Dear Mr. LaBeouf,
Shia? Do you mind if I call you Shia? My name is Jena and I’m writing this open letter with a heavy heart. I want to start this off by saying this is not to bash you, shame you, go all preachy on you, tell you what you’re doing is wrong, or any other such nonsense that is, quite frankly, none of my fucking business.
I just saw you in the news, and, once again, not in a good light. I’m not writing to you today to tell you how to live your life or to tell you what choices to make. I’m writing to you today to let you know that you still have fans out here. We are little but faceless nothings to you, I’m sure, but in this very weird way, thanks in part to the monster that is social media, there are complete strangers in the world who actually care what happens to you. Saying as we’ve never met, never talked, and likely never will, I really do get how utterly strange that sentiment may be, but you really do have people who care about you and look up to you.
I’m not going to sit here and rehash what you already know. I will just tell you this: As an author myself, when the plagiarism accusations came out, I was disappointed, but I also understand that everyone makes mistakes. Everyone. The downside to being good at your particular profession is your life ends up being under a microscope, so your mistakes aren’t so easily silenced.
I watched as you explained how it came about (and frankly, I don’t understand why you got the shit end of the stick in that situation, but everyone still worships Taylor Swift when she ripped off another artist’s lyrics word-for-word but whatever….) and you made you apologies. That shit storm seemed to have passed, quickly replaced in the media by the by the curiosity over #IAMSORRY. When I heard about #IAMSORRY, I wished, so hard, that I lived on the other coast so I could have attended. I would have loved to come to the gallery and sit with you, but I can honestly say I don’t know what I would have said. Or if I would have said anything at all. Maybe I would have handed this letter to you, hand-written on tattered pages, instead of posting it on the internet where you may or may not see it. As cool as moment would have been for a fangirl like me, it never happened, so we’ll never know.
The thing about being a celebrity is, as muddy as the waters may get when you’re in the public eye, there are fans out there who still admire you. There are fans who appreciate you as an artist. I may not understand all of your art projects (The whole Just Do It thing baffles me, dude), but I certainly understand that you’re an artist. I’ve yet to see all of your movies, but I will say you crushed it in Eagle Eye (one of my favorite movies to this day), and I hated that you were replaced in the Transformers franchise (Do you hear me, Michael Bay???).
I’m writing today because I want you to know that there are those of us out here with our crossables crossed in hopes that your career will survive whatever this is that you’re doing. Whether you’ve turned your life into one big art project, or you just plain and simply need to lay off the hooch for a while, we’re really hoping to see you come out on the other side with your career and life intact. We haven’t forgotten about you, so don’t forget about us. Not everyone is as unforgiving as the media in this country. Not everyone gives in to the outrage culture that the internet age (and blatant ignorance) breeds. The movie nerd in me so badly wants to be able to look at your Wikipedia page when I’m old and wrinkly and think “GAWD DAYUM, he had a great fucking career!”
Playing the devil’s advocate without all the facts, maybe the media is misunderstanding the point. Maybe we just don’t get it (explaining it to us would go a long way to remedy that shit, just sayin’). If your end game is to escape the limelight, then by all means, sir, you’re doing a stellar job. You certainly wouldn’t be the first who wanted to get out, but it would be nice to see you make it out without the aid of a body bag, and that’s what you have your fans fearing at the moment.
If it’s an alcohol and/or a drug thing, rein that shit in, friend. That road leads to nothing but bad juju and it will end your career, if not your life. If it’s an art thing, INVOLVE YOUR AUDIENCE. Rather than just letting us all think you’ve gone bat shit crazy, how much more fun would it be to have your audience in on your secret? Give us a mission statement. Tell us what you’re trying to say. We, your fans, don’t want to think you’ve gone off the rails. We want to think you’re this brilliant artist with a master plan, but forcing your audience to wait for “the big reveal” will cause the majority of them to walk away. They wont believe you, or believe in you, anymore. They’ll view you as just another Hollywood shit head who lost his way. We don’t want to think that of you. And we are an A.D.D. generation. We look for the instant gratification of having the answers right at our fingertips. I’m not saying you have to spoon feed your audience the answers, but you’re not dangling the answers just out of reach. You have the answers locked in a vault and you fed the key to an active volcano. This is not a society where you can be coy with your art forever. Leave people in the dark long enough and you will alienate your audience. You’ll start to make them feel stupid, and there is no quicker way to lose an audience.
Rather than boggle the minds of the masses, eventually driving them away, wouldn’t you rather be open, and, in turn, inspire people with your art????
Then again, I could be completely wrong about you. I hope not, but the chance is there. You just may plain and simply not give a shit and the whole art thing is just the line you’re running to stop people from thinking you’re nothing more than a train wreck.
So, which is it, Shia?