Following several blatant acts of plagiarism and a performance art period designed to fool people into believing the plagiarism was part of some grand meta-commentary and not just base theft, Shia LaBeouf has finally been exposed to the worst punishment of all: An op-ed in the New York Times by James Franco.
Comparing LaBeouf to Marlon Brando, Joaquin Phoenix and James Franco himself, Franco writes:
“Any artist, regardless of his field, can experience distance between his true self and his public persona. But because film actors typically experience fame in greater measure, our personas can feel at the mercy of forces far beyond our control. Our rebellion against the hand that feeds us can instigate a frenzy of commentary that sets in motion a feedback loop: acting out, followed by negative publicity, followed by acting out in response to that publicity, followed by more publicity, and so on.”
He concedes that the game is “addictive,” and in the midst of defending LaBeouf, he allows for the possibility that this could end up as a cautionary tale:
“I just hope that he is careful not to use up all the good will he has gained as an actor in order to show us that he is an artist.”
Some might recoil at the idea that Franco is defending LaBeouf, but it’s actually a very thoughtful treatise on the pressures of fame, and worth a read.