It has been a slow, painful spiral for Hollywood star, Shia LaBeouf since last December. He was once the star of a profitable movie franchise, as he played the lead protagonist in the Transformer film series. After the third film, it was announced that LaBeouf would not be in any future films for the franchise, instead replaced by actor Mark Wahlberg. LaBeouf, undeterred, took his talents to directing, which began the shame spiral that he now finds himself in. And while it is being treated lightly in the news outlets, Shia LaBeouf’s spiral should be watched closely or it could very well turn tragic.
The spiral began last May, when LaBeouf debuted a film in the Cannes Film Festival. The film, titled Howard Cantour, is about a disgruntled film critic and the inner workings of his mind. The film, which stars comedians Jim Gaffigan and Thomas Lennon, received high acclaim at the festival. However, when the film was posted on the Internet in last December, it was found out that many of the characters and dialogue from the film had seemingly been lifted directly from a graphic novel, Justin M. Damiano by Daniel Clowes. LaBeouf, who is a noted admirer of Clowes’ work, apologized to the author and his fans through Twitter for plagiarizing the novel. He claimed that the work served as his inspiration for the film and that he should have credited Clowes in the film.
But once again, LaBeouf was accused of plagiarizing. This time, it was his apology that was plagiarized. In his apology, he states “When you make a mistake you should apologise. But more importantly — most important of all — you’ve got to learn from your mistakes.” It appears that LaBeouf didn’t learn from his, as that statement was plagiarized from a 2012 apology from UK’s Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg. The apology Shia LaBeouf tweeted even came with the British spelling of the word “apologize”.
LaBeouf has since continuously attempted to make amends for plagiarizing both instances, from hiring a skywriter to write “I’m sorry Daniel Clowes” above the Los Angeles skyline to his latest stunt, an art exhibit titled #IAMSORRY which involves him sitting in a room with a brown paper bag on his head and sobbing at the audience. These confusing actions serve as evidence as to why Shia LaBeouf’s spiral and fall from grace should be watched closely.
Celebrities are chased and hounded any time they come out in public and sometimes within the privacy of their own home. Though they may seem carefree to the public eye, they are put under an enormous amount of stress due to every action they make being amplified by the media. LaBeouf’s behavior is erratic and unpredictable. While he has given no indication he is suicidal, others in the limelight have displayed similar erratic behavior before attempting, and sometimes achieving, this ultimate step.
The public is a fickle being, and while it may not ever forget LaBeouf’s plagiarizing actions, given enough time, it will become less of an issue. However, he needs to step out of the limelight for that to happen, not continuously throw himself back into view. Until that happens, Shia LaBeouf’s spiral from film star to public joke should be watched closely. The last thing Hollywood needs is another actor taken before their time.
By Jonathan Gardner