Shia LaBeouf & His Paper Bag Need to Cool It With This "Performance Art" Thing
Oh boy. Shia LaBeouf is at it again. The former Disney channel star, as part of his apparent campaign to shake that moniker once and for all, walked out of a Berlin press conference for Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac , after unintelligibly answering only one question. When asked about the sex scenes in the film, LaBeouf replied, "When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea" — quoting the final line of the self-reflexive French film Looking for Eric — before performing a hasty mic-drop-and-out. This, after walking down the red carpet with a paper bag over his head inscribed with his new favorite phrase, "I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE," one he's been tweeting daily for the past month.
Lest his actions seem merely attention-grabbing — because by proclaiming "I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE," he's actually becoming more famous, har har — LaBeouf has also posted his very own "Meta-Modernist Manifesto," complete with a logo, which outlines his new artistic philosophy (or lack thereof) in a Google Translate jumble of silver dollar words. See, for example, this gem of a sentence: "All things are caught within the irrevocable slide towards a state of maximum entropic dissemblance." Mmhmm. As revolutionary as he may want this all to be, LaBeouf's schtick can't help but seem a little tired.
From Joaquin Phoenix and his rap career to James Franco and his, well, everything, famous folk these days can't seem to get enough of using hyper-intellectualism to excuse silly behavior apparently born of their own boredom — AKA, "performance art," emphasis on the scare quotes. It's become the "my dog ate my homework" of celebrity mid-life crises. (Or, rather, the "my dog made my homework one with himself in a negation of Lacanian mirroring, and as Slavoj Žižek once said…") Plus, not for nothing, labeling press stunts as "performance art" has the potential to devalue a medium that, when used right, can be genuinely interesting. (And no, I'm not talking about Marina Abramovic dancing with Jay-Z.)
Yes, celebrity is ridiculous. Yes, press junkets must be infuriating — and sure, that reporter's question about sex scenes in a film called, ahem, Nymphomaniac likely didn't merit much more than prepackaged gibberish. Still, LaBeouf seems to have arrived late to a party that was already pretty dull in the first place, if not mildly infuriating. And really, when it comes to fomer-child-star implosions, I would much rather watch Macaulay Culkin's pizza-themed Velvet Underground cover band than relive the head-up-assery of a sophomore year philosophy seminar.
So in short, Mr. LaBeouf, if you're going to wear a bag on your head, by all means, enjoy — but please don't pretend it's in the name of "entropic dissemblance," otherwise my eyes just might roll out of my skull. Or at the very least, consider poaching a soundbyte or two from The Chief in Spice World next time.
Image: Getty Images