News broke this past winter of Shia LaBeouf (pronounced la-BUFF) plagiarizing work by Daniel Clowes and Benoît Duteurtre. In his apology tweets/statements (which were also plagiarized), LaBeouf stated that “Copying isn’t particularly creative work. Being inspired by someone else’s idea to produce something new and different IS creative work.”
Our intention with Frequencies was not to feature the straightforward essays or interviews that you can find in absolutely every other venue. For instance, in Volume Two, Emily Pullen crafted an interview with the long-deceased T.S. Eliot out of questions culled from one poem, with responses from a second.
Taking inspiration from LaBeouf’s mission statements and his recent performance art/antics, we decided to interview “the” “celebrity” “of” “the” “moment” in Volume Four by copying LaBeouf’s responses from previous interviews into a new and different super-interview. We used responses that LaBeouf had provided in interviews with venues such as Details and Stumped Magazine, or on Twitter, and drafted the following satirical interview. To be even more explicit: LaBeouf’s responses were said by the actor, but not to us, and were made in response to altogether different questions.
We’ve agreed to preface our satirical interview with the following, lest ye be confused:
“Shia LaBeouf did not participate in the interview published herein; the questions and answers are fictional.”
Shia LaBeouf made me feel like James Lipton—had Lipton only seen a low fraction of the films that his subject had acted in and was entirely indifferent to those—for the nearly fifteen minutes we conducted our interview at Bob’s Bar (tagline: “The Cultural Hub of the Midwest”) on a pleasant mid-March afternoon. The beer was cold and the sun shone through the front window onto the initial handful of stools that lined the bar. Shia wore gray and was still missing a tooth. He looked like a distant relative I’d do anything to avoid.
I had never interviewed a celebrity, let alone “the” “celebrity” “of-the-moment.” There was a sense that I was witnessing history, while also missing history entirely. Interviewing Shia LaBeouf was like sleeping through an episode of a television show that I really wanted to watch.
In the last four scant months, LaBeouf has dropped anchor in our pool of Eccentric Artists. True, that pool gets pissed in a lot, whether by launching a sketchy rap career or dating Madonna. The point is, this pool makes waves: it is a wave pool.
If you could describe your actions in one word, what would that word be?
SHIA: Hashtag, original.
Isn’t that two words? Okay then, what about two words?
SHIA: Hashtag, start creating.
Your short film Howard Cantour.com plagiarized Daniel Clowes, as did the storyboard you posted to your website for Daniel Boring. Why are you picking on Clowes, and if you could say ‘sorry,’ would you say ‘sorry’?
SHIA: I would like to be George Clooney diplomatic. But I mean, I don’t give a fuck. At this point I have enough money to live 25 lifetimes. You couldn’t spend the money I’ve accrued now. I have no interest in the materialistic bullshit money can buy. [Other actors are] talking about Ferraris and shit, like it’s a cool car. If [someone] pulled up in a Ferrari right now, my idea wouldn’t be, ‘What a cool fucking guy!’ It would be, ‘Look at this clown.’ I think the fact that I despise that stuff keeps me safe. I hang on to my dirt. I like my dirt. The hardest thing for me is dealing with all this idle time. That’s when I get into trouble.
You’ve gotten into trouble with the law in the past, when you were involved in an altercation in Sherman Oaks, arrested for smoking, and for attacking your neighbor with a knife. What’s more fun, punching or getting punched?
SHIA: Dude, I was 185 and ripped. I’m a fucking human being who pays his taxes. And I don’t respond in a really sweetheart way. You fight out of fucking survival. Everybody’s got stories. I don’t want to not have stories.
At your #IAMSORRY show at a tiny gallery in Los Angeles, you had your famous “I Am Not Famous Anymore” bag over your head. Andrew Romano of The Daily Beast reported that you were simultaneously laughing and crying.
SHIA: I am trying to impress myself. I have yet to do it.
I thought that was pretty impressive: simultaneously laughing and crying. Not everyone can do that. It’s like rubbing your tummy and patting your head. Though the #IAMSORRY piece might appear a bit thin on paper, have you ever considered publishing a show book?
SHIA: I’d feel disgusted with myself. It takes a certain mentality to be able to pay a hooker and stay hard, if you know what I mean. People write books about important shit.
Jaden Smith recently reached out to you in case you “need a fellow insane person to talk to.” Most people view your recent actions as performance art. How does that make you feel that he just thinks you’re nuts?
SHIA: He’s a lunatic. He told me the craziest story at Sundance, about how he used to be a glassblower. He was glassblowing, he said, in his boxers in his garage, and one of the bubbles popped. The glass got on his dick, and it wouldn’t get off, because it’s like molten lava when it comes off the bubble. He said he went to the hospital and at the hospital they said, “Look, we can’t remove the glass because doing so will puncture a vein and then we’ll have to sever your penis.” So his wife called him “glass dick.”
I don’t think he has a wife. Jaden Smith is, like, 13.* [*Editor’s Note: Jaden Smith is 15 years old.] Do you feel as though he’s belittling mental illness?
SHIA: Not like you. No, definitely not. He’s a legendary actor.
That might be a tad hyperbolic. We’ve danced around it a bit, but let’s talk about Twitter. It appears to be your new weapon of choice.
SHIA: I don’t tweet or do any of that.
Seriously? Every day for a month straight you were tweeting “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE.” Your shenanigans where you claim to want to avoid fame are making you more famous; you’re the great celebrity ouroboros. Do you see yourself doing this for the rest of your life?
SHIA: Never wanted to do anything else ever in my life.