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A misunderstood genius

This article is more than 12 months old

You won't see me, a former Belieber-in-denial, standing up for Canadian pop star Justin Bieber's recent behaviour.

But yes, I think US actor Shia LaBeouf is just misunderstood.

The plagiarising, apology-stealing, tweeting, retiring, paper bag-wearing, and performance art-ing - and the widespread ragging all this has inspired - is more than okay in my eyes.

I think it's absolute genius.

I've been reminded several times this week that I may be the only person who feels this way.

I don't think it's just because of a special kind of kinship between fellow Geminis.

I present my reasons for being a Shia LaBeouf apologist:


The 27-year-old has been on a downward spiral since 2008's terrible Indiana Jones reboot.

For publicly stating what everyone else felt - that the movie was terrible - LaBeouf was called a "****ing idiot" by my second favourite hot old actor in the world, original Indy Harrison Ford.

Imagine the pressure of being an amazingly talented, adorkable guy in a sea of blue-eyed hunks in Hollywood.

In your early 20s, you're burdened with the responsibility of carrying a huge franchise - Transformers - and trying to restart two more - Indy and Wall Street.

They bomb, critically and/or commercially, and all you probably want to do is wash the filth of bad blockbuster films off. So you start writing and directing your own short films, and that's when your problems really start.

You are accused of copying wholesale the graphic novella of author Daniel Clowes for your short film HowardCantour.com, perhaps an act done under pressure to come up with art that people could respect.

A fellow misunderstood artist, US singer-songwriter John Mayer - I'm a fan of his, too - has said as much in his defence of LaBeouf on Twitter: "Re: Shia. Being young and very talented/successful is like dropping in to the top of Mount Everest via helicopter.

"The dumb people disintegrate, and the smart people investigate. That investigation is never comfortable. Or all that pretty."


Speaking of art...

This appears under "Last Resort" in "The Celebrity's Guide To Public Relations Nightmares" (See: Joaquin Phoenix, Lady Gaga).

He has repeatedly tweeted I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE. He appeared on the red carpet at the Berlinale Film Festival last weekend for his latest film, Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac, with a paper bag with the same words.

He walked out of the press conference for the movie, mysteriously quoting French soccer star Eric Cantona's final words before exiting his own press conference in 1995, after he had been convicted of assault.

After all of this was splashed in the tabloids, he decided he would just install himself as an exhibit in an art gallery in Los Angeles earlier this week for people to stare at.

Um, that's, like, so meta.

The installation is titled #IAMSORRY, and the whole thing mirrors his cryptic "sorry-not-sorry-but-maybe-I-am-maybe-I'm-not" tweeting since the plagiarism incident.

It's confusing, but also fun to watch him play mind games with a press so intent on painting him as yet another young star having a breakdown, which I don't think he is.

Videos have popped up online of news outlets trying to provoke him to say something as he sits in his cube of isolation.

One particularly persistent heckler is met with tears rolling down LaBeouf's face. What is this if not a statement on how the press - yes, us included - treat our celebrities?

As for the continual cribbing from other people's public apologies for his own statements - could that be a statement on how there's nothing new in this world, you know, like all those blockbuster movies?

Then there's that gross story about him apparently sending a picture of his little Shia to von Trier to snag the role in Nymphomaniac. Could that be a statement on the absolutely unnecessary excesses in Hollywood?

So yes, I do believe there's "more than meets the eye" to the actor, beneath all the recent so-called "bizarre" behaviour.

Here's to less tabloid beef with LaBeouf in the future.