Everyone has an opinion on the recent events of Shia LaBeouf's life — the plagiarized movie, the plagiarized apology for the plagiarized movie, the bag on the head — and more often than not that opinion comes in the form of an unanswered question, "What the hell is going on?" I don't think that's the wrong response, it simply shows confusion and that's appropriate for this situation, but it also shows that most people aren't putting a ton of thought into this. Someone who is reading this a little deeper is James Franco who wrote an article about Shia LaBeouf's recent antics. The article titled, "Why Actors Act Out" was published in The New York Times on Feb. 20.
Franco's point of view is one of empathy and he says he can understand why LaBeouf might be acting out. He draws from his own experience working on General Hospital while simultaneously filming Oscar-nominated films saying,
At times I have felt the need to dissociate myself from my work and public image ... My decision was in part an effort to jar expectations of what a film actor does and to undermine the tacit — or not so tacit — hierarchy of entertainment.
The actor also points to Marlon Brando for support and says that it makes sense that actors feel the urge to separate themselves from their public personas in order to gain a sense of control. This can lead to a cyclical effect. Franco says,
Our rebellion against the hand that feeds us can instigate a frenzy of commentary that sets in motion a feedback loop: acting out, followed by negative publicity, followed by acting out in response to that publicity, followed by more publicity, and so on.
Franco's essay is smart, well supported, and sensible, but in the end it doesn't give a big answer that says definitively, "This is why Shia LaBeouf is this way." Franco hopes that LaBeouf's actions are performance art against a system that has attempted to control him, but he doesn't know. Not that he should. This is an opinion piece and he's simply bringing forth his point of view as a fellow actor the same way all of us have as fellow human beings by saying, he's crazy, he's psychotic, he's ruining his career. Franco's doubts are important to the essay because while it's likely some people would expect to read it and say, "Oh, James Franco. He thinks he has all the answers," the essay is really just a longer, more thoughtful, more hopeful version of the same question we all started with. "What the hell is going on?"