Just Do It?

26big1-superjumboShia LaBeouf, in red hat, at his “He Will Not Divide Us” installation outside the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens last month. Credit: Justin Lane/European Pressphoto Agency

Celebrities. There is almost this unreachable, god-like status that many people apply to those who are famous. But what they fail to realize, is that these celebrities are people too.

Upon reading this New York Times article, I along with a few other class members interpreted the editor’s message as a plea to celebrities to use the awesome power and influence they wield to actually make change instead of constantly preaching abstract ideals. As far as this goes, I could not agree more. The photo above corresponds with the bulk of the article in depicting a perfect example of what not to do as a celebrity. While Shia Labeouf has admittedly gone downhill lately after his various stunts and arrests, he still has tremendous influence over his loyal fans through means such as social media and, god forbid, memes.

While standing up for what you believe in is usually a good thing, there are just so many things wrong with this picture. First of all, the message is too vague. “He”…who is ‘he’? “Us”…who is ‘us’? These vague pronouns could easily be misinterpreted and misused by the wrong groups due to their lack of specificity, a topic discussed in an earlier post of mine. Secondly, what exactly is this trying to accomplish? The goals are fuzzy and, by the looks of it (even though the project makers deny it), it seems as though the purpose of the exhibit is to incite controversy. I mean, why else would they have it on the same day as the inauguration with a celebrity to popularize it who has been known to be staunchly opposed of President Trump. Last but not least, they undermined their own legitimacy when they resorted to violence. The article mentions this briefly, but I wish to expose the true nature in full detail. Shia LaBeouf, who preaches ‘unity’ and swears to hate ‘dividing’ acts, constantly screamed (literally) his message in people’s faces, with no regard for personal space. Even when those with opposing viewpoints would come to peacefully discuss the matter, LaBeouf and his supporters lashed out, often violently. LaBeouf was arrested after ripping off a man’s scarf and cutting his face. No matter what your status is as a celebrity or no matter how righteous you may think your cause to be, I absolutely despise it when people resort to violence to get their message across.

I understand it that these are the same people who are first to scream “Fascist!” Why is it then, that they are using the exact same tactics as the black shirts did in the poor streets of Europe back then? Violence is never the answer.


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