Shia has a bad rep and maybe he deserves it but for one reason or another I have a soft spot for the fellow. Sure, he stole Dan Clowe’s work and then stole the apology for stealing Dan Clowe’s work and then to say sorry for stealing both those things, he stole his art exhibit idea from Marina Abramovic to say sorry for stealing the apology to say sorry for stealing Dan Clowe’s work. But the unforgivable and unpardonable sin was agreeing to be in a Michael Bay film.
But all jokes aside, I find myself very envious of his position to be able to create the art exhibit but before we go into that, I have a pondering about Shia’s intentions.
First of all, doesn’t the plagiarism he committed seem a bit too obvious? Doesn’t three stolen ideas right in a row seem to be too purposeful? The speculations and even confession from Shia himself have been explanations of either ignorance of the legality of intellectual property or straight malicious disconcern the theft. Where were his advisors? Where were his friends? Just one person to pull him aside and explain he might get into a little bit of trouble if he used someone else’s work. In my estimation, it seems to be common knowledge that if you take an idea from someone and use it for your own work, you can get in trouble. For someone that has worked most of his life in an intellectually ripe profession, it’s kind of hard to believe that he had no clue that what he was doing was wrong. On top of that, how could he think he could convince anyone of being ignorant of intellectual property rights, especially three times in a row. So, if I had to put money on it, I would say these were all staged with or without the stolen artists consent.
There are several reasons to speculate as to why he purposefully stole the ideas in the first place. Maybe he wanted to send a message about the fact that there really are no new ideas anymore but rip offs, remakes, re-imaginings and reworks. Maybe he wanted to send a message about how ridiculous our obsession is with demanding perfection from people that are in the lime light. Who knows what these public demonstrations were for, but his unique position in the art exhibit is where I find myself envious.
So a little bit on his #IAMSORRY art exhibit. It was held in Los Angeles ending Sunday, Feb 16th. People waited hours in line with the promise that they would be led to a room alone with Shia. They had no idea what to expect but hey, he’s famous. Apparently, he doesn’t think so, at least not any more. When led into the room, the participant finds him wearing a paper bag over his head that states “I am not famous anymore.” To make things uncomfortable, he doesn’t say a word and will just stare at you. To make things even more uncomfortable, people have reported that he cries. Some have taken the bag off, some left it on, and others have even gotten permission to with a slight nod from Shia to take it off but all have reported it is indeed him sitting across the table from them.
Before entering the room, the participant in the art exhibit is asked to select an object from a table just outside. These objects ranged from a ukelele, an Indiana Jones whip,, to a Transformers toy. Nobody knows why these objects are laid out and asked to be chosen. Nobody is given a reason why they must choose these objects but I would like to think I have an idea. These objects represent criticism for Shia. People criticized him for being in Indiana Jones. Some people said he was horrible in Transformers, etc. etc. Now he’s heard these criticisms and they more than likely hurt. Imagine if your job as carpenter is broadcast on the news to millions of people of the so-called shoddy work and poor choice in wood. It’s got to be pretty rough. These objects are all physical representations of people’s hate for Shia. They take the object into the room, symbolically bringing their grievance to the man they have “problems” with and Shia gives them time. People have said that they held his hand and gave him support. Others said they just took pictures with him, some sat in awkward silence. One man even brought a camera in with him and basically mocked him. See the video here.
If I could blatantly suppose, my guess is that Shia wanted to put on a demonstration to bring awareness to the gap between the celebrity and the normal person. There are a lot of people, too many people, that are obsessed with the lives of celebrities. They aren’t satisfied with seeing them on the silver screen pretending to be someone else. They want to know about their personal lives, who they love, who they have affairs with, how fat are they, how in shape are they, what they ate for breakfast, how they eat their Reeses Peanut Butter cup. Essentially I view it as acceptable mass stalking and it’s very, very weird. Imagine if we were collectively obsessed for good or bad with a construction worker. We hang out on the construction site, we watch them do their thing and we applaud their hard work. Then as they get in their Dodge truck and head back to their families for pot roast, we follow them home. Reporters report on the dryness of the pot roast, on the construction worker son’s grades, and the little bit of pot belly starting to form because he had one too many bagels the last few weeks. It’s called stalking but apparently if a mass of people do it, it’s not only okay, it’s profitable!
Ok, that was a bit of a tangent. So here is where I find myself envious of Shia. I am all about social experiments. I’m interested in people’s reactions and trying to learn the thought process behind those reactions. I have many stories of several social experiments I’ve conducted over my years on this Earth, but that would be a blog post for another time. So how cool of a social experiment would it be to see the variety of reactions from people when they are one on one with a crying celebrity? Many of these people had so-called “issues” with Transformers or Indiana Jones or any number of works he’s been involved with. So how do they react when that person is no longer some untouchable image on the screen but made real and in the flesh just a few feet from themselves. It’s incredibly interesting. Now, I’m not saying this is what Shia’s goal was when he put on this art exhibit but I’m sure he certainly learned a thing or two and found it incredibly interesting and engaging. I would have loved to see for myself first hand the different ways people treated him, as a real person, real feelings, real thoughts, dreams, hopes, pains, desires, the whole gamut of being an actual human instead of just a symbol of the broken Hollywood machine.
What are your thoughts?