Shia LaBeouf is still the worst guy in your cultural studies MA program: "The star is a byproduct of the machine age, a relic of modernist ideals"

LaBeouf sounds off on Al Pacino and the enslavement of celebrity culture

By Anna Silman
Published April 17, 2015 2:45PM (EDT)
Shia LaBeouf        (AP/Thibault Camus)
Shia LaBeouf (AP/Thibault Camus)

Last night at Tribeca, Shia LaBeouf conducted a Q&A surrounding his new project, "LoveTrue," directed by Alma Har'el, on which he served as financier and EP. But as usual, LaBeouf’s eccentric offscreen persona overshadowed the film itself, with the headline-grabbing “performance artist” sharing his views on art, performance and celebrity (per Deadline, he did it all while sporting a “ Davy Crockett-coonskin cap hairstyle,” naturally).

LaBeouf’s hot rant for the evening centered on the difference between “representational" and “presentational” performance, as he compared his previous work with Har’el — on the music video for Sigur Rós' "Fjögur Piano” — with his recent Sia video “Elastic Heart." He also managed to diss Al Pacino in the process, because why not:

"I think the Sia [video] is much more about aesthetics — it's performance gymnastics; the big crying scene is like dance moves: 'Here, you're gonna cry.' ... And it's cool, but it's like Scarface, like Al Pacino acting — nothing against him, but there's a big difference between something that's presentational and something that's representational. I think even Pacino would agree that his work is representational, whereas someone like Joaquin Phoenix is presentational. ... [With Har'el,] we had far less structure when we went to work, and it was just really heavy and really honest. We didn't know what was going to happen. They're great for different reasons.”

LaBeouf explained that he recently got out of rehab nine months ago, and likened Har'el's method of directing to the "operatic therapy" that went on there. As he put it, according to THR: "For me, it’s like method acting… The only way you can actually have something like that go on is when everyone agrees that that’s what the reality is. You rarely get that on a large film set because you got people looking at you like, 'You're just a f—ing actor.' "

Speaking of being a f--ing actor, LaBeouf then some time to throw a few potshots at the “Transformers" franchise:

“Bumblebee [a "Transformers" character] never sounds real, it's just a f—ing name. The name alone you can never make real, no matter how much you put into it, because on the other side, you have a director who doesn't believe it either. So when you work with certain directors who give over and do something that's presentational and you both believe it, then there is no f—ing around, and you really are in this alternate universe."

Yesterday, in an interview with Variety, LaBeouf defended his MA thesis spoke out further on the commodification of celebrity culture:

“As a celebrity/star I am not an individual — I am a spectacular representation of a living human being, the opposite of an individual. The enemy of the individual, in myself as well as in others. The celebrity/star is the object of identification, with the shallow seeming life that has to compensate for the fragmented productive specializations which are actually lived. The requirements to being a star/celebrity are namely, you must become an enslaved body. Just flesh — a commodity, and renounce all autonomous qualities in order to identify with the general law of obedience to the course of things. The star is a byproduct of the machine age, a relic of modernist ideals. It’s outmoded."

I hope you guys are taking notes, because this will be on the final.

Anna Silman

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Al Pacino Movies Performance Art Shia Labeouf Transformers Tribeca Truelove