Don't bite the hand that feeds you

Credit: Keystone Press

I really don’t like the word “sellout.” Definition, via the Urban Dictionary: “When an artist conforms to the way record labels, managers, etc see them to make money through commercial success and generally not the original fan base.” I respect an artist that can put their money where their mouth is. What I don’t agree with is when said artist cashes their fat paycheck and then criticizes the “conformist” studio that hired them in the first place.

According to The Huffington Post, Shia LaBeouf is disappointed in the Transformers sequel, directed by Michael Bay.

“Michael [Bay] went so big that it became too big, and I think you lost the anchor of the movie. You lost a bit of the relationships. Unless you have those relationships, then the movie doesn’t matter. Then it’s just a bunch of robots fighting each other.”

I agree with this statement. Sequels do tend to sour over time. But while some would applaud such unbridled honesty from an actor, my view is that it wasn’t his place. Professionalism is about networking and building relationships. Save your opinions for home, but don’t tell a newspaper that your former employer didn’t do a very good job on his sequel.

After criticizing Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which LaBeouf worked on with Steven Spielberg, the director gave him a piece of advice:

"He told me there's a time to be a human being and have an opinion, and there's a time to sell cars… It brought me freedom, but it also killed my spirits because this was a dude I looked up to like a sensei.” (The Hollywood Reporter)

The capitalist in me is going to side with Spielberg on this one. I’m sure the Occupy Wall Street protesters are going to start lining up outside my door right now, but the fact of the matter is movies cost A LOT OF MONEY. Even the artsy independent movies need to break even. I understand that LaBeouf is an “indie actor” now, but don’t sit on your mountaintop of cash and talk down to the big studios that put you in your position. He is getting little films like Lawless funded based on his star power… Which was built on movies like Transformers and Indiana Jones.

Films are an art form, yes, but they are also a product to be bought and sold. If you can’t jive with this marketplace mentality, try selling your homemade movies at a garage sale. I’m sure no one would take away your artistic integrity there.

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