Shia LaBeouf: Celebrities Are “Enslaved”
Shia LaBeouf says he’s “enslaved” as a celebrity. In an interview with Variety, the controversial and outspoken actor, who has been on screen since he was a child, explained his proclamation last year that he intended to retire from public life.
“I turned to performance art, as I couldn’t find another container/platform/discipline for individual expression, self-presentation,” explains LaBeouf. “I couldn’t contact the audience. Performance art tightens the space of relations and allows me to work in real time, as opposed to only synthetic time. It liberated me from the old constraints of genre and taxonomic systems (drama, thriller, comedy, mystery). It liberates me and allows me to work in broad complexities.”
Asked why being in the spotlight makes it difficult to be an artist, the actor says, “The craft of acting for film is terribly exclusive and comes with the baggage of celebrity, which robs you of your individuality and separates you.” And he had plenty more to say on the matter:
The performance work is democratized and far more inclusive. 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.
LaBeouf adds that, having been a child star, it’s “been a long time since I’ve known another way.” What do you think about what he has to say on the nature of celebrity?