by Michael Welch `17
From Disney Channel star, to movie actor, to his current vocation as a controversial artist, Shia LaBeouf’s journey in the entertainment industry has been all but conventional. Recently, LaBeouf has taken on the persona of friendly but strange drifter, both entertaining and surprising all who still observe him. In his latest installation, LaBeouf has started a four-year long protest of President Donald Trump, all livestreamed to his fans.
The new president is familiar with protests over his election victory, but LaBeouf’s protest stands out as unique. A four-year long protest seems impossible considering how often a passionate movement can fizzle out over time. However, with LaBeouf leading the charge, there is no telling how long the demonstration may last.
Unsurprisingly, the livestreamed protest has not been short on controversy. LaBeouf has dealt with white supremacists and general opposition, the most toxic but well-handled of these interactions occured when a passerby said “fourteen” into the camera that was livestreaming the protest.
The word “14” is a secret message to other white supremacists, referencing the phrase, “we must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children,” as the phrase contains “14” words.
LaBeouf obviously acted against the white supremacist by getting directly in the uninvited guest’s face shouting “he will not divide us!” The two shouted at each other for a few minutes before the white supremacist finally left and the protest could continue peacefully.
LaBeouf had another altercation which led to his being arrested. Supposedly, a young man approached LaBeouf for a picture but said, “Hitler did nothing wrong,” when he got close.
LaBeouf’s mother is Jewish and he considers himself Jewish as well, so LaBeouf immediately took offense and took action. The two began shoving each other until eventually things escalated to the point where LaBeouf was taken in by police. He was out of jail and back at the protest by the next morning, however.
The four-year anti-Trump protest is being called another one of LaBeouf’s “art installations” which are known for being unique and unusual. His former fame helps elevate these installations and he has an impressive history of weirdness to boast.
The musical “Shia LaBeouf” reached over forty-four million views on YouTube and features a plot where someone is being chased through the wilderness by a murderous LaBeouf. In early 2014, LaBeouf starred in an art installation where he played a motionless statue that could not react no matter what awful things strangers said or did to him. LaBeouf was almost sexually assaulted during the installation and had to stop his performance, but there would be plenty of art in his name to come.
LaBeouf’s latest undertaking is but the latest stage in the his dramatic evolution, leaving many wondering not only what the protest will amount to, but about the artist behind it as well.