"Do it. Just. Do. It."
These are the motivational words actor Shia LaBeouf screamed very, very loudly in front of a green screen. Though the source video was released a month ago, in the past few days, this video bubbled up to internet ubiquity and became the source of mashups, gossip, and worries about LaBeouf's mental health.
Shia LaBeouf is either completely insane of the greatest actor of our generation. And after watching that speech, I'm totally cool w/either.— Garrett Sechelski (@SkiBronJames) June 3, 2015
But the real story of the video is more than a viral freakout. It won't just inspire you to get pumped up — it may teach you about the state of modern art.
What's this insane Shia LaBeouf motivational speech?
Most people know Shia LaBeouf from the Transformers movies, even though he's moved on to other projects. That makes this video particularly jarring.
The Shia LaBeouf screaming video, seen above, shows him enthusiastically yelling a clichéd motivational speech at the camera, ornamented with extreme gestures.
Here's the full text:
Do it. Just do it. Don't let your dreams be dreams. Yesterday, you said tomorrow. So just do it. Make your dreams come true. Just do it. Some people dream of success, while you're gonna wake up and work hard at it. Nothing is impossible. You should get to the point where anyone else would quit, and you're not gonna stop there. No, what are you waiting for? Do it! Just do it! Yes you can. Just do it.
If you're tired of starting over, stop giving up.
What creativity has the video unleashed, providing unparalleled artistic opportunities?
The video has gone viral because the green screen makes it easy to add new backgrounds. Since the video also has a Creative Commons license, it's completely permissible to take it and make something new. That's led to some interesting edits, including:
- A Star Wars riff
- An appearance in the Batman vs. Superman trailer
- A speech in Toy Story
- Even James Franco responded with a parody.
Where did the original video come from?
The whole thing's an art project.
The motivational speech is actually an excerpt from a 31-minute one featuring LaBeouf performing several short monologues (it shows up at 8:58).
Each student wrote a section of LaBeouf's monologues and then manipulated it.
Who wrote the speech? And why?
Joshua Parker wrote the section called "Just Do It." He is a 2015 fine arts BA from Central Saint Martins, according to his website, and you can see his final submission for the project here, which put LaBeouf over a sporty background. (Parker's project is also discussed in the CSM Degree Show live stream.)
Parker did not respond to our request for comment, but it's clear that LaBeouf's motivational speech exists on a continuum with Parker's other work. Parker's website states that he "explores the effects that ‘health mania’ is having on contemporary life. Particular emphasis is laid upon themes of commodification, simulation and the cyclical nature of consumerism within the health, beauty and fitness industry."
So LaBeouf's speech is probably intended as an exploration, or even a parody, of fitness culture. That's borne out by Parker's Instagram, which includes samples of his work like this:
Parker's monologue seems to be a pastiche of lame motivational speeches that prize enthusiasm over thought. And LaBeouf gave a performance that sold it perfectly.
So what's the big takeaway from Shia LaBeouf's big motivational video? It might be that celebrity artists — and newly minted art graduates — can do in a few days what it took Pablo Picasso a lifetime to accomplish. Yes, this motivational speech has possibly become the most popular art piece of 2015.
But if that's a step too far, there is still one thing you can draw from this motivational masterpiece.
Just. Do. It.