Shia LaBeouf set himself up yet again as a pop culture punch line this week with his invitation to fans to binge-watch his 27-movie life's work with him at a Manhattan theater, as others, via a live stream, watch him watch himself. And when he occasionally dozes off while viewing his own films, well, the jokes write themselves.
It's hard to tell whether LaBeouf’s antics in recent years—including running 144 laps around Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum—are the product of bizarre attempts at performance art or of a self-destructive streak.
But his movie marathon marks a stroke of cinematic genius. It's a great idea – for a whole slew of other actors, if not him.
Imagine sitting in a theater with Sidney Poitier as "In the Heat of the Night" unspools. Or weeping with the rest of the crowd during "Sophie's Choice" with Meryl Streep in the front row. Or rolling in the aisles with Mel Brooks through "Blazing Saddles." Or hanging on tight with Harrison Ford through the first three Indiana Jones flicks (but not “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” — sorry, Shia!).
It would be a fitting way to honor not only the artist, but the fans.
Perhaps LaBeouf, even in his own clumsy, self-aggrandizing way, intuits this deep connection between movie stars and the rest of us. Perhaps other, more successful and grounded actors will borrow his idea (in shorter chunks, hopefully, and sans the live stream). Perhaps the 29-year-old “Transformers” star will reinvent his career after his #ALLMYMOVIES project and make some great flicks well worth sitting through — with or without him.
That all seems unlikely. But who knows: Anything, as even Shia LaBeouf recognizes, can happen in the movies.
Jere Hester is Director of News Products and Projects at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.