Halloween: “Shia LaBeouf”

Screenshot of one of the interpretive dancers lead by Stacy Tookey from the “Shia LaBeouf” music video. All rights go to Rob Cantor.

Hey! Hallie here!

I know it isn’t Halloween yet, but none of us can REALLY say we aren’t already halfway into Halloween. Once Fall hits it’s all anyone can talk about. As for this early Halloween post, I felt it was only fitting to follow up a post praising an incredibly heartfelt performance from Shia LaBeouf with a post praising a song about killing hermit/cannibal Shia LaBeouf. You know. Wholesome content. Before I get into all the nuances in a music video where dancers wear disturbing Shia LaBeouf heads that took eighty hours to assemble, I want to talk about the unmistakable talent that went into this song. Rob Cantor is truly a genius and he created a timeless classic. I won’t be taking any criticisms at this time.

Background:

It only took Rob Cantor hearing a friend of his ominously whisper “Shia LaBeouf” likely too many times for him to decide it would make a good comedic horror song. After a year of releasing the song, Cantor decided to extend it and shoot an entire music video for it only about a week before Halloween. You thought this post was labeled ‘Halloween’ only because of how frightening Shia LaBeouf is? You thought wrong. Among those who worked on this extended song and its artistically sophisticated music video were the Argus Quartet, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, and the West Los Angeles Children’s Choir. Those poor kids. The symphonic arrangement was done by Greg Nicolett, who had the idea for the string quartet used in the song. As for the dancing, Stacy Tookey choreographed the piece and began rehearsals only three days before the music video was shot. The aerialists had only two days of rehearsal. And all of them were directed by Cantor’s friend Scott Ulfhelder. I’m realizing now that if you’ve never seen this video it sounds like I’m joking. I’m not. Nor am I joking about the fact that Shia LaBeouf agreed to cameo in the video only two days after he was sent an email. Apparently he was a fan of the song when the original 2013 version was released. I’m not sure if that makes me more uncomfortable or amused. Probably both. Onto the video!

The MV:

This video starts out with Rob Cantor center stage in the dark, setting the scene for us viewers. And if you weren’t tipped off by the fact that the song is called “Shia LaBeouf”, thankfully various other people whisper Shia LaBeouf’s name ominously until you get the picture. You, the viewer, are the main character who is lost in the woods after your car and phone conveniently go down at the same time. Rob Cantor informs you that there’s no one around in this forest, but Rob Cantor can’t be trusted. And neither can Shia LaBeouf, who stalks you from thirty feet away for maybe two seconds before deciding it isn’t worth his time. At which point he sprints at you on all fours. We’re not even a minute into this song and it’s already going to give me nightmares. At this point the string quartet picks up and you could almost lose yourself in how pretty it sounds if not for the fact that Rob Cantor is explaining how much blood Shia LaBeouf is covered in. Finally the lights come up and we get some dancers! It’s definitely a contemporary/ballet style. My favorite part is when the two dancers act out Shia LaBeouf stabbing you with a knife. Beautiful. Meanwhile the choir in the back sing about Shia LaBeouf living in the woods and killing for sport with straight faces. Give them all Oscars. They finish up with describing Shia LaBeouf’s cannibalism meanwhile one of the dancers mimes biting the other one’s leg. I’m suddenly reminded of all the times someone tried to convince the general public that cannibalism is too stigmatized. The dancers make me want to disagree.

In comes the Children’s Choir! You can’t have a creepy song without at least one kid! At this point the audience has escaped from Shia LaBeouf. It’s not clear how but be grateful! You got out unscathed! Some of the dancers mimic creeping through the woods while Rob Cantor describes your dire situation. You see a cottage in the distance, which might be helpful, but then you manage to do more harm to yourself than Shia does in the entire song. You get your leg caught in a bear trap. Good job. While you gnaw off your leg, one of the kids in the Children’s Choir gets up to repeat the word “quiet” a bunch of times. His wide, unblinking eyes really sell it. A true star. You somehow manage to hobble to the cottage but, unsurprisingly, it’s Shia LaBeouf’s cottage. He has to live somewhere, right? For some reason Shia LaBeouf has decided you aren’t worth it anymore because he’s completely vulnerable. He’s sharpening an axe, sure, but he doesn’t even hear you come in. It’s just the perfect sort of situation to start strangling him. And then, my favorite performers arrive. The shirtless dancers with the Shia LaBeouf heads! The way the dancers move these giant heads is so mesmerizing it’s easy to miss the fact that you’re in a deadly fight with Shia LaBeouf. But don’t worry! One of the guys in the choir sings “stab him in his kidneys” with such feeling that you can’t help but come back to the story. So you stabbed Shia LaBeouf and you’re safe. But wait! Shia surprise! He’s alive. The aerialists come down for an epic final showdown where the choir reveals you can do Jiu Jitsu! I swear I couldn’t do it before I listened to this song but evidently I can now! So you bodyslam Shia LaBeouf with your amazing Jiu Jitsu skills and finally manage to cut his head off with an axe. To accentuate your victory, glitter comes down from the ceiling and the words “Shia LaBeouf” flash across the stage.

So where’s the Shia LaBeouf cameo? It’s left for last. So I’ll leave it for last here too. All the performers have done their bit. The string quartet has played beautifully. The dancers and aerialists have amazed with their skills. The various choirs have sold the urgency of the situation. Even Rob Cantor has given it his all. And in the back of the theater Shia LaBeouf rises from his seat and begins violently clapping. They’ve pleased him. For now. I swear, one of these days I’m going to prank my friends with a D&D one-shot that is just this song exactly. I’m evil like that. I’ll be back to write more Halloween things in a month, but for those of you who are already in the spirit, this is what I offer you. A long post about a meme song that came out seven years ago. Enjoy.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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