Alexia Halsey ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
When most of the public refers to Shia LaBeouf, they are thinking of the actor who starred in movies such as Transformers and Holes – but many internet-dwellers think something very different.
In 2012 Rob Cantor created a song titled SHIA LABEOUF and posted the audio online without any video or any description. When asked in an interview with the Washington Post on May 2nd, 2012, Cantor replied, “nothing but the sheer silliness of imagining Shia LaBeouf, face and clothes smeared with half-dried blood, terrorizing victims in a dark wood.” He then added, “It was more his name, when whispered really intensely, just made me giggle.” Cantor’s original YouTube post received fewer than 200 thousand views, but the song prompted many others to create animated videos or picture slide shows to accompany the song, and even a few parody videos and remixes. The most popular one, an animated video by a YouTuber called “namefriend,” ended up with almost two million views.
The song gained a particularly large amount of traction on blogging sites like Tumblr and Reddit. The audio post on Tumblr received over 80 thousand reblogs within its first 48 hours and received comments from many bloggers. For a while it was a major part of the internet community, reaching the status of a legendary meme. They quoted it under other posts and created original content including gifs and text posts that directly referenced the song. The song even has its own “Know Your Meme” page.
Then, as most viral trends do, the song saw the end of its popularity and quietly faded away.
Now, however, Cantor has returned to his internet hit with a live performance video, and this video is no small production. “Shia LaBeouf” Live – Rob Cantor was uploaded on the October 21st and is more than just a work of comedy; it is a work of art.
The video stars Cantor, who starts on a dark stage, seemingly alone, reciting his violent tale. As the song builds it is revealed that Cantor is not alone on stage but is instead accompanied by many respectable artists. The Argus Quartet plays under him, along with the original drummer, pianist, and bassist, giving the song a more dangerous tone than the previous version. Cantor is also joined by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles and the West Los Angeles Children’s Choir, who add a fuller and more dramatic sound to the choruses and create an added intensity. As if that wasn’t enough, there is also a team of interpretive dancers that act out the song (four of which are sporting large Shia LaBeouf masks) and make the video more visually appealing. In the grand finale, two aerial dancers and a Kung-Fu duo join Cantor on stage as well.
On top of the lavish performance, Cantor also added another verse on to the end of the song involving the decapitation of the superstar. This made the song nearly forty seconds longer than it had been in its original recording, but it took nothing away from its creative and mildly horrific greatness.
It’s not everyday you see the revival of an old internet joke go so well. Often, they crash and burn, gaining little traction at all, but Cantor’s masterpiece has already reached over three million views. The performance even received a standing ovation from the actual cannibal himself, as Shia Labeouf made a cameo appearance as the only audience member present for the spectacle ala Citizen Kane. The new video really brings a sense of art to Cantor’s song, even though the joke is still the same. The humor, the violence, the suspense – it’s all still present, just told in a new and far more elaborate form.