An Open Letter to Shia LaBeouf

Shia LaBeouf in August 2012

Dear Shia,

To quote a mediocre man who claimed to be a great man: “What’s causin’ all this?”

You’ve given us some spectacular displays of selfishness, narcissism, frustration and bullying since you were outed as a plagiarist. That’s not name calling, that’s the technical term. Just because you’re a plagiarist who profited, financial or otherwise, off of the work of another artist, doesn’t make you an asshole. It doesn’t make you a bully. It doesn’t even make you an out and out narcissist. You’ve invited those insults through your own actions. You’re either trying to show you don’t care, which means you care, or you don’t care which seems to imply you’re a bit sociopathic. Either way it begs another question…

What’s wrong?

These aren’t the actions of someone well adjusted. Skywriting and inviting mockery of the artist you plagiarized and still, according to his lawyer’s cease-and-desist letter you posted virally, haven’t taken any steps to make appropriate amends toward, aren’t acts to generate positive publicity. They put you in a negative light. Which you seem to relish like a professional wrestling villain. However, even a professional wrestling villain is a villain as part of a form of entertainment. You’re not in professional wrestling. It’s not your job to generate heat. It’s not your job to do anything besides make art, promote the art, and be paid for the art. You are a creative artist who is paid for his work. You are compensated. You violated the sanctity of another person’s work and then lied about it, claiming it to be your own. And enjoyed the credit. You never, as far as anyone can tell, meant to get busted. Therefore, what you did wasn’t “sharing” and it wasn’t a statement about the obsessive overrated need for originality by the artistic community or a sect of the mainstream audience. You didn’t offer credit. You didn’t think to. You f*cked up, knowingly, got caught, and now are waving your transgresses in the public’s face. As if you’re an outlaw. As if you’re a rebel. You’re not Dennis Hopper. You’re not James Dean. You’re Shia. Which leads me to the next quandary…

What do you want to be known for?

Up until now you were known, on screen, for playing a version of the same character in almost every project you’ve participated in, which you’ve probably been paid for. You’ve shown limited range as an actor. You’ve been outspoken about the ills of the profession you’re currently engaged in. You’ve reportedly gotten into knife fights. You reportedly turned $20,000 into $489,000 preparing for a role by trading oil securities, a practice that doesn’t invite a non-profit and “friend of the common person” projection onto your image. You’ve had a personal life. You’ve had a public life. You’ve tried to get involved with causes. You’ve been caught plagiarizing on your first endeavor to evolve as an artist. You’ve been berated for this act. You’ve flouted the berating. You’ve not offered any sincere recompense to the artist whom you’ve ripped off. Those are facts that are, for the most part, hardly arguable.

You’re a celebrity. Maybe you shouldn’t be or don’t want to be but unfortunately for us, the people who’ve purposefully or inadvertently been kept abreast of both your personal and professional lives, you have to deal with that. If only that wasn’t the case… Now you have choices. If you hate the lifestyle then leave it. You’ll be a minor footnote in the annals of cultural relevance, if at all, at this point. You haven’t been around enough and made enough of a contribution or committed an act of destruction, to yourself or anyone else, to be considered anyone significant generations from now. You can retire. Or you can continue to put up your middle finger to the world, provoking, bullying, attempting to intimidate, and trying to use the philosophical rationalizations of a college freshman to justify your anger. Or you can make amends and offer to make right the wrong you’ve committed.

One thing’s for certain: get off my f*cking computer screen! I don’t want to deal with you. I hate having to acknowledge you in any context outside of your work.

You’re an actor. You’re a creative. Not an original, so far. You have been granted a position of some influence by the public and instead of using it to become a statesman you’re settling for creating the image of a too rich-too successful-too soon punk with anger issues and severe narcissistic inclinations. The sad part is you might be proud of that. The sadder part is somehow, somewhere, I’m going to read a headline about the next chapter of this drawn out melodrama you’re improvising. Stop the drama and get back to work, or just go away. Please, for the sake of people who don’t give a sh*t and the peace of mind of those who mildly do.


The Dude

[Lead image via]

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