“Oh, that’s cute,” an MTA worker said, noticing for the first time an ad installed near the southwest stairs at the Bedford L stop on Wednesday morning.
The ad, a four feet by five feet black and white collage, features the heads of Shia LaBeouf, Picasso and God (as imagined by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel fresco “The Creation of Adam”) pasted on to women’s bodies, alongside LaBeouf’s Twitter handle and the hashtag #TheCureForCelebrity.
The worker muttered under his breath as he peeled the poster from its frame, then pried its frame from the tile wall, revealing an ad for the Red Bull Music Festival beneath it. He confirmed the ad was installed illegally.
LaBeouf is an actor whose short film HowardCantour.com premiered at the Cannes Film Festival before it was revealed to be a blatant plagiarization of Daniel Clowes’ 2007 graphic novel Justin M. Damiano. LaBeouf later issued an apology for plagiarizing… that was pulled word-for-word from Yahoo! Answers.
It has pretty much been all downhill from there: LaBeouf has hired a plane to write “I AM SORRY DANIEL CLOWES” in the sky over Los Angeles, showed up to a film premiere wearing a paper bag that read “I Am Not Famous Anymore” over his head, and set up shop at a gallery in Los Angeles where one by one anyone could come in and tell LaBeouf whatever they wanted.
Until now, most of these stunts have been contained to Los Angeles, and maybe that’s why the MTA worker removing the ad had never heard of LaBeouf. “I don’t know who that is, but if I catch him, he’s gonna get this” — he held up a big, beefy fist, jokingly — “to his teeth, because he’s covering something that someone else paid for.”
Update, 5:25 p.m.: A representative for LaBeouf denies that he had anything to do with the guerilla advertising campaign. Artist Luke Turner who, along with Nastja Säde Rönkkö, collaborated with LaBeouf for his gallery show in Los Angeles, tells the Voice, “Neither myself, Shia or Nastja are responsible for this poster in any way whatsoever.” Turner says he has no idea who might have plastered a poster bearing LaBeouf’s likeness and Twitter handle to the subway wall.
Update, April 28: YouTube user Artful Dodger has claimed responsibility for the LaBeouf poster, as well as others featuring Lady Gaga, Kanye West, and Justin Bieber.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 23, 2014