SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Actor Shia LaBeouf, donning a bag over his head in public, continues to decry what fleeting celebrity he once had and insists that he is no longer famous. Yet, LaBeouf has embarked on a very public apology tour, which has culminated in a Los Angeles art installation titled “#IAmSorry.” In the exhibition, the no-longer-famous actor sits at a table, bagged visage and all, with implements that include whiskey, pliers, candy, a ukulele, film artifacts such as a “Transformers” toy and a bullwhip (á la Indiana Jones)*, and a copy of Daniel Clowes’ book “The Death Ray.” The latter is the most revealing because LaBeouf recently confessed, although with a feigned sense of ignorance, that he utterly plagiarized another of Clowes’ stories. Now, LaBeouf is again being attacked as a flagrant plagiarist for a new project he claims to have authored, which depicts the story of an ancient Hebrew rabbi who claims a divine birthright, is persecuted as a result, dies during a crucifixion and returns to Earth in the spiritual form of a messiah.
When allegations surfaced that LaBeouf had plagiarized Clowes’ “Justin M. Damiano” for his independent film “HowardCantour.com,” the actor initially said he’d been so immersed in the creative process he neglected to cite the proper accreditation for Clowes. But LaBeouf then posted storyboard samples for a short film project called Daniel Boring -- lifting not only another of Clowes’ works but also the title. The actor later apologized, copying verbatim the text from an old Yahoo Answers entry that referenced a quote by Picasso: “Good artists copy but great artists steal.”
“Copying isn’t particularly creative work. Being inspired by someone else’s idea to produce something new and different IS creative work,” LaBeouf wrote in his apology, or rather pasted directly from the Yahoo Answer.
Prior to getting caught, LaBeouf took full creative credit for “HowardCantour.com,” including the ripped off plot and word-for-word dialog, claiming he had developed the script organically.
Critics now say he’s at it again, citing a leaked trailer for LaBeouf’s next indie film project “The Book,” still in production. The first part of the film, called “The Old Book,” presents a phantasmagoric imagining of the planet’s creation by a giant humanoid alien over the course of about a week. But the being, Yaughway, becomes dissatisfied with his first attempts at creating life forms, which are semi-immortal and engage in all manner of incest, rape, drunkenness and murder. So he drowns them in massive flood, impregnates a poor carpenter’s wife and disappears forever.
The second part of the film chronicles the exploits of Yaughway’s illegitimate son, Jessie, who grows up to sacrifice his own life in an attempt to save his people from a demon that will steal them away to a massive furnace for following the morally corrupt leaders of the prevailing world governments. These politicians see Jessie’s actions as a threat to their comfortable lives, so they have him killed in a brutal public execution. After he dies, Jessie returns in a new ghost-like form. He calls himself Chris at this point, and tells everyone willing to follow his communist-leaning rules that they can party in Yaughway’s outer-space paradise after they die.
Critics who saw the leaked dailies immediately excoriated LaBeouf for plagiarizing the King James Bible.
“He used entire sections of dialog and even had the gall to incorporate footage from other famous Biblical epics, including ‘The Ten Commandments,’ ‘The Passion of the Christ,’ ‘King of Kings’ and, for some reason, ‘A Veggie Tales Movie,’” blasted Tremaine Weldowhether, professor of media studies at San Narciso College.
“I mean, LaBeouf’s ‘The Old Book’ starts out with an off-screen narrator reciting the opening verses of Genesis, practically verbatim,” he added.
The movie’s opening lines are conspicuously stolen from the KJB version of the Book of Genesis: “In the beginning Yaughway created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of Yaughway moved upon the face of the waters. And Yaughway said, ‘Let there be light’: and there was light.”
LaBeouf, when first confronted about the new accusations on Tuesday, told reporters he had developed the story himself from a “variety of source material across different cultures,” and tales he was told by family members and neighbors “every Sunday, when we dressed up and went to the local meeting house to discuss philosophy and sing.”
Late Wednesday afternoon, LaBeouf recanted his statements again, saying he had been so consumed with the creative process that he forgot to credit the Christian Bible and Hebrew Torah, which he confessed were “huge inspirations and influences in my life.”
Then, in perhaps his most bizarre apology yet, LaBeouf posted multiple tweets that together read:
We are deeply sorry for the hurt suffered by the individuals affected.
We regret not acting faster to sort things out.
I realize that simply apologising is not enough.
Our business was founded on the idea that a free and open press should be a positive force in society. We need to live up to this.
In the coming days, as we take further concrete steps to resolve these issues and make amends for the damage they have caused, you will hear more from us.
Moments later, he published three additional tweets:
Four precious lives have been lost. I offer my deepest condolences. Customers bought our cars because they thought they were the safest. But now we have given them cause for grave concern. I can’t begin to express my remorse.
“This is [expletive deleted] ridiculous,” cried Professor Weldowhether, barely able to contain his anger or curb the use of profanity. “Shia LaBeouf just copied and pasted the apology letters of News of the World from 2011 and Toyota from 2009. He didn’t even bother to erase Rupert Murdoch’s name.”
To demonstrate how sorry he is now, LaBeouf announced a second LA art installation called “#IAmSorryRedux,” in which he appears lashed to a Volkswagen Jetta, in a position reminiscent of crucifixion, while guests are allowed to throw rotten vegetables at him. He will also don a new bag over his head, bearing the inscription “More than meets an eye for an eye.”
Attorneys representing performance artist Chris Burden, who famously had himself nailed to a Volkswagen Beetle for the 1974 piece “Trans-Fixed,” said they will be sending LaBeouf cease and desist orders for plagiarizing their client’s work.
“The fact stands that Shia LaBeouf is a serial liar,” Professor Weldowhether opined. “That’s what he’s going to be famous for now, so even the bag over his head stunt is a [expletive deleted] fabrication. He also lied when he boasted about performing his own, very real sex scenes for Lars von Trier’s ‘Nymphomaniac.’ Von Trier admitted that he had no choice but to use body doubles -- his first picks for female leads dropped out entirely after learning of LaBeouf's involvement. Even with a bag over his head, I can’t imagine the likes of Uma Thurman sleeping with Shia LaBeouf...and she probably had sex with Quentin Tarantino. So that’s saying something.”
*Editorial Note: the bullwhip was removed from the #IAmSorry installation after several attendees attempted to flay, throttle and otherwise beat Shia LaBeouf to death.
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