Transformers actor Shia LaBeouf has come under a lot of fire over the past month, following the discovery that his short film HowardCantour.com appeared to be heavily based on Daniel Clowes' comic book Justin M. Damiano, to the point that LaBeouf's film had actually lifted dialogue directly from the comic. LaBeouf did not credit Clowes for providing the source material and the comic book writer has stated that LaBeouf never got in touch with him to talk about it.
As if the accusations of plagiarism weren't controversial enough, things got even more bizarre when LaBeouf posted an apology on Twitter that seemed to have been copy and pasted from a post on Yahoo Answers. In other words, the apology for the plagiarism had also been plagiarized. LaBeouf then took things to a new and even stranger level by hiring a sky-writer to spell out "I am sorry Daniel Clowes" in the clouds over Los Angeles.
This week, however, LaBeouf has apparently undergone another change of heart and has lashed out once again at Clowes by posting on Twitter, "Storyboard for my next short "Daniel Boring" its like Fassbinder meets half-baked Nabokov on Gilligan's Island." The storyboard is clearly based on Clowes' graphic novel "David Boring," and LaBeouf's appropriation of it seems to be a form of backlash against the criticism of HowardCantour.com. The storyboard is laid over pictures of Seth Rogen and Patton Oswalt, both of whom spoke out against him for ripping off Clowes' work.
Sure enough, Clowes' laywers were none too amused. LaBeouf went on to post a letter of warning sent to his own lawyer by Clowes' legal representative, who describes LaBeouf as "seriously out of control" and insists that he "stop his improper and outlandish conduct directed at Mr. Clowes and his works." The sky-written apology was dismissed as "foolishness."
While publishing the storyboard for "Daniel Boring" may seem like an unambiguous attack on Clowes, LaBeouf didn't respond well to the reprimand. Describing the recent controversy over HowardCantour.com as "attacks against my artistic integrity," LaBeouf announced that he is henceforth retiring from public life entirely. He has not yet deleted his Twitter account.
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In light of the recent attacks against my artistic integrity, I am retiring from all public life.
— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) January 10, 2014
LaBeouf then followed the tweet up with two additional ones: "My love goes out to those who have supported me," and finally "#stopcreating." The last one could be interpreted as a threat to retreat from the film industry altogether - or at least from writing and directing - but it's very doubtful that either proclamation of retirement is going to stick on a permanent basis. Mostly it just looks like LaBeouf is throwing a bit of a tantrum.
If nothing else, though, LaBeouf's antics (which, as far as we know, are not part of a Joaquin Phoenix-style faux meltdown) have certainly provided some entertainment for the quiet month of January. For the more traditional kind of film entertainment, LaBeouf can also be seen in David Ayer's upcoming World War II drama Fury, which is out this fall.
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