Shia LaBeouf’s attempted comeback is pure ‘Bojack Horseman’

Shia Labouef’s attempted comeback is pure Bojack Horseman | Soho House

This week, Hannah Flint examines Hollywood’s pernicious little habit of letting abusive men back in the fold

Saturday 3 September 2022   By Hanna Flint

Current Hollywood events this week have got me thinking about a season-five episode of Bojack Horseman. For those unfamiliar, the opening sequences centres on a movie star called Vance Waggoner whose bad behaviour takes inspiration from the likes of Mel Gibson and basically every other abusive, bigoted guy working in Tinseltown. Yet for each of his public infractions, Vance manages to claw his way back into the business by offering an apology and getting a fellow male actor to support his supposed atonement: ‘The apology tour can be a hassle,’ a producer says as she tries to persuade him to join her movie. He’s also been given the lifetime achievement award at the We Forgive You Awards to really nail the satirical sentiment. 

This sharp yet depressing accuracy has cemented the animated series as one of the greatest of all time. It’s always relevant: right now, we are witnessing yet another real-life actor attempting his very own, super similar redemption story. That actor is Shia LaBeouf. 

In 2020, FKA twigs filed a civil suit against him citing allegations of sexual battery, assault and infliction of emotional distress during their relationship. Another of his ex-partners also accused him of abuse, the granular detail of which was relayed to The New York Times. Yet now, with the help of his pal and Fury co-star Jon Bernthal, LaBeouf is laying the groundwork for his comeback. He’s had a lot of practice. 

For several years, La Beouf has proven to be a volatile individual on and off set. He was kicked out of the play Orphans for butting heads with his co-star and took his method acting so far on Fury he cut his own face several times with a knife. Since 2007, he’s tallied up several arrests, from not leaving a Walgreens to causing a ruckus at a Broadway production of Cabaret and being charged with criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and harassment. He’s been caught plagiarising in several books and films he’s penned, and yet each time he’s been invited onto talk shows to chuckle at his questionable behaviour or reduce his drunken outbursts as ‘boys will be boys’ antics. He’s thrown Notes App-type apologies on social media – in some cases he plagiarised those too – and the industry just accepts it giving him second, third, and fourth chances with new roles and artistic opportunities. The latest reportedly being a role in Francis Ford Coppola’s big-budget Megalopolis.

In spite of #MeToo, in spite of Time’s Up, Hollywood proves time and time again that men behaving badly will always have other men ready to fight their corner, give them a platform or a job with barely a thought to the message it's sending out. Just look at Emile Hirsch who, after serving a measly 15 days in jail for violently choking a female producer at Sundance Film Festival, landed a role in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Don’t worry, guys, it’s OK to throttle a woman and then return to a profession afforded to few. 

Jon Bernthal tweeted on Tuesday: ‘The question of when, and for whom, redemption is possible is important.’ It is an important question but maybe it's not for the friends of alleged abusers to answer it. Maybe friends of alleged abusers could be a support system in private instead of using the harrowing awareness of domestic violence against women to promote their podcast. 

A career in Hollywood is not a right, it’s a privilege and atonement should not automatically come with a script and a six to seven-figure pay cheque. Accountability matters and it would be great if we didn’t have to keep watching the same male stars fast-tracking their way to forgiveness. They rarely ever earn it.  

Til death shall she part… with the throne

At 96, the Queen is still hanging onto her crown for dear life. According to Buckingham Palace, the Monarch will break with royal tradition by appointing the next prime minister from her home in Balmoral rather than in London.

This means either Rishi Sunak (sigh) or Lizz Truss (SIGH)) will travel with Boris Johnson to Scotland on 6 September to receive the royal seal of approval because the Queen has been dealing with mobility issues.

You’d think at this point, after 70 years, Liz might finally retire and let her son Prince Charles take over, but I guess the 71-year-old heir-apparent can’t convince his mum to part ways with her rule. She can barely walk, has pulled back from public duty, but still she won’t let her eldest take the reins despite him being an OAP too. 

Queen Lizzy really said, ‘not over my dead body.’

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