Celebrity meltdowns are always adored by the media. There’s something very intoxicating (as morally awful as it may be) in watching a person in the world’s spotlight crack under the pressure and let their crazy show. But with Shia LaBeouf it has been almost impossible to know if he’s just excessively dedicated to his performance art, or gone Full Metal Jacket.
A lot of what he has achieved in the last few years (attending the Nymphomaniac premiere with a paper bag on his head, receiving criticism surrounding the paedophilic implications some read into his dance for Sia’s Elastic Heart, and his bizarre #IAMSORRY piece) has been met with general befuddlement. While Shia has always made his artistic intention clear, no one seems to be quite sure of what the message of this movement is. The price of fame? How the media has distorted our image of humanity? How we can become desensitised to other people’s experiences?
Whatever his motivation, Shia LaBeouf’s latest installation brought him to the UK – Liverpool, in fact, where he and his fellow artists received calls from members of the general public. #TOUCHMYSOUL allowed his fans to contact LaBeouf directly, and gave them a more direct connection to the man they have only viewed in films.
While LaBeouf’s artistic actions have been credited towards the desire for creative control – and creativity has been associated with craziness for… pretty much always – when we consider the actor’s multiple counts of trouble with the police (usually due to violence), it becomes hard not to question the sanity of these installations.
Yes, he is succeeding in drawing the world’s eyes onto his art. But is it really for the right reasons? If this work – that has often been degrading and, at times, dangerous – is the result of a meltdown due to the constrictions of fame, then is it really right for us to closely watch and judge? Or is it simply one actor noticing the bizarre attitude surrounding the Hollywood mentality and how quickly actors can fall from favour?