Will Shia LaBeouf ever be able to show his face at another movie junket again? Or was that the whole point to begin with, as the actor has retired from all public life today. He posted these Tweets on his personal page, sending his love to those that have supported him in this time of controversy and more skywriting with a message to artists everywhere in the world.
In light of the recent attacks against my artistic integrity, I am retiring from all public life.— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) January 10, 2014
My love goes out to those who have supported me.— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) January 10, 2014
Why has the self-proclaimed 'shit gypsy' gone to such drastic and dramatic measures?
The actor made his directorial debut with the short film HowardCantour.com, which was about an online film journalist and the business behind attending movie junkets. It's a well-made look into this pop cultural construct and lifestyle that few people know too much about. It's also well written, and that became a hot button issue last month, when it was discovered that Shia had plagiarized iconic artist Daniel Clowes' 2007 comic Justin M. Damiano, nearly word for word, in creating the screenplay for this work of fiction.
The short stars Jim Gaffigan as online film critic Howard Cantour, and follows a day through the press circuit, with Thomas Lennon and Portia Doubleday co-starring as Howard's colleagues, and Dito Montiel portraying the filmmaker Howard once idolized. While a vast majority of the dialogue is lifted directly from Daniel Clowes' comic, the character names have been changed.
Debuting at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, it wasn't until 18 months later that controversy arose around the project. Daniel Clowes did not know his work had been used, and wasn't pleased about it. This led the actor to apologizing in all sorts of bizarre and odd ways, most of which were plagiarized quotes. Shia LaBeouf would later point out that the plagiarized apologies were meant to be sarcastic jokes. He then became upset when people refused to find this funny, claiming 'we' didn't get the joke.
Some have speculated that this is a performance art piece perpetrated by the actor to get attention for his short film, much in the same way that Joaquin Phoenix did with his pseudo documentary I'm Still Here. To keep the story going, he later sent out storyboards for his latest project called Daniel Boring, which clearly plagiarizes Daniel Clowes' comic David Boring. The storyboards were set on top of photos of Patton Oswalt and Seth Rogen, who'd both publicly spoken out against Shia LaBeouf and his blatant theft of copy written material.
This then became a legal matter, with Daniel Clowes representatives sending a cease and desist letter, calling the actor 'out of control'. His skywriting was written off as a prank, and dismissed as 'foolishness'.
It is not yet apparent what Shia LaBeouf's public retirement consists of. He has not disabled his Twitter account at this time. And he appears to still be acting. Those who have followed the actor over the years know that he has come under vast scrutiny for his performances in the Transformers franchise and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. HowardCantour.com greatly emphasizes the unease between a movie critic and a creative entity when forced to sit in a room together, pretending they like each other for ten or fifteen minutes.
In the actor's defense, Shia LaBeouf has done that side of his job from a very young age, and he has always been funny, friendly and outgoing to those he comes in contact with. He's one of the few who remember journalists' names. So it would be easy to see how the actor could become disenfranchised with the whole operation, having become friends with these people over a great many years, only to see horrible stuff written later about him in the press. Say what you will about his tactics, it's hard to sit in a room with someone who is going to later go write bad things about you.
HowardCantour.com actually has important things to say about creativity, and the way the junket scene is run. Its too bad that Shia LaBeouf couldn't find his own voice to express his feelings. And his public retirement looks like a tantrum right now more than it does anything else. When will comedian Jim Gaffigan speak out about his role in the movie, if at all?