Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac launched its hallucinatory sexcapade at the Berlin Film Festival with a red carpet appearance from a big, wrinkly sack, which dangled there like a potent metaphor for all that is yet waiting to be born in this barren artistic age. Those without a mind for modernist theory may well have dismissed this exposed bag as little more than a wacky stunt. But while this incorrigible nut sack may have seemed unbalanced, those who could handle it recognized that it was swollen with meaningful commentary. That’s because this bag was emblazoned with the screed “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE,” which transformed this ordinary bag into a powerful demonstration-bag. “Jesus, look at that incredible d-bag,” the awestruck in attendance were surely heard to say.
As you may have guessed, that incredible d-bag was Shia LaBeouf, the Google-suggested answer to art’s most pressing questions, who has continued to shock the world with the sort of performance pieces that you can no longer simply avoid by dating a girl with a different major, or saying, “Eh, maybe we should go to another coffee shop…” For months now, LaBeouf has sought to cleanse the womb of creation with his mix of vinegar bitterness and watery baptism, uncomfortably inserting himself into our artistic void to address its freshness problem. And because no one laughed at Lars von Trier’s little Nazi joke a few years ago, LaBeouf continues to be the wiki-sourced mouthpiece for the film he’s been forced to promote, despite wanting to spend all his time putting his face in his sack.
Before borrowing liberally from The Unknown Comic and Thomas Pynchon, LaBeouf had appeared unmasked at an earlier press conference where he was asked about appearing in a movie with so many sex scenes—hardly a question befitting a movie called Nymphomaniac. “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much,” LaBeouf replied, before quickly exiting the stage to a platform more worthy of his talents, such as Twitter. As with all of LaBeouf’s words, these were also written by someone else: French footballer Eric Cantona, who issued that precise statement before storming out of his own press conference in the ’90s, following a conviction for assault against a fan.
LaBeouf—who followed his most recent bar fight by taking a “lunge” at three guys who tried taking his photo Saturday, at Berlin’s Ritz-Carlton—obviously feels a kinship with Cantona, another pugilistic, quasi-philosopher who was seemingly determined to spurn all his fans individually. In this case, LaBeouf is the trawler, dredging forgotten treasures from the ocean of time, tossing out bits of bait that keep the media gulls circling. Tauntingly he lured them closer, placing his fragrant mind-sardines in a single paper bag. This bag would hold the totality of Shia LaBeouf, and the gulls would peck at it ever fruitlessly.
Shia LaBeouf is a total bag.