Just over a year ago, I was grabbed by news of Shia LaBeouf’s sky-written apology for his cinematic plagiarism of a story by graphic novelist Daniel Clowes. I began keeping an eye on his profile, noting public reaction to his subsequent acts of artistic appropriation, and the bizarre media downplay of LaBeouf’s claims that he was raped during his #IAMSORRY performance piece. More recently came the rumours about his method acting techniques for the film ‘Fury’; he joined the US National Guard, experimented with self-harm and underwent a Christian baptism. And now, in January 2015, he’s at the epicentre of a hysterical media shit-storm over Sia’s beautiful and moving Elastic Heart music video. I guess I don’t need to tell you any more about that, you’ve already seen it – 36 million You Tube hits in seven days. Hungry for more Shia, I delve into the pages of Winter’s Dazed and Confused. What delicious tidbits will Aimee Cliff reveal in her interview with this passionate and flawed controversy junkie?
Too many to digest. You’ll have to read it for the specifics, but it seems to me the main value in the article is not the contrived implication that LaBeouf’s twisted and tortured soul is down to his relationship with his father, rather the insight provided into the vulnerability of the journalist’s position at his hands.
Initially, Labeouf contacts Cliff via email after noticing her Twitter profile. He gains direct private access into her time and space, seeming to command an instant response at any hour. She tells of her excitement and personal interest in him and how, over a few weeks, they construct an intimate cyber-relationship where the giving of intimate information is a two-way exchange. When they finally meet he dictates that they do not actually speak to one another as part of his ‘meta-modern’ communication experiment.
The celebrity exclusive is a career-definer, a prize to be won, and when it’s handed over so freely, questions are raised about motivations. Labeouf’s acting career is not flagging, his relentless apologies and self-punishment seem to have restored his integrity in the eyes of his public (although Elastic Heart is pushing a lot of buttons); he could have slipped onto the pages of Dazed with far less effort – we all want to know more about him. He talks about crafting life games, and I guess this game has been ‘the controlling of a virtual stranger for the personal pleasure derived in doing so’. Add an appreciative readership for heightened sensations. I wonder if, in hindsight, Aimee Cliff enjoys having been played as the pawn. I wonder if the two of them will maintain a lasting friendship post-publication of the interview. I wonder if Shia LaBeouf is into D/s relationships.
Words and image by Rachel James