Monday, August 20, 2012

What If Shia LaBeouf Were a Woman?

Would a woman named Shia LaBeouf get away with the things a guy called Shia says and does?

Famous women may often get a free pass for cheating (would Jodie Foster publicly defend Adam Hann-Byrd, who played her son in Little Man Tate, for hooking up with someone who wasn't his girlfriend, the way she recently stood up for Kristen Stewart, her Panic Room daughter who just broke Robert Pattinson's heart?), but that might be where their lucky breaks end.

Famous men not only get paid better (generally speaking), but they have far more freedom to get wasted in public, trash hotel rooms, fist fight, kiss, and tell. Take Shia LaBeouf, who is quickly becoming as well known for his big mouth and off-screen antics as his acting. His most recent shockers: That he regularly showed up drunk on the set of his upcoming film Lawless (out August 31), and that his sex scenes in Lars von Trier's next film, The Nymphomaniac (starring Charlotte Gainsbourg -- so amazing in von Trier's last film, Melancholia -- as the title character), will be the real deal.

Of his Lawless-ness, he said...

"My drinking on this movie was as undestructive as I could possibly make it, if that makes sense.

"I did it for the movie. I didn't drink off set for no reason. I did it because, when I showed up on set the next day, my fucking eyes looked like this and my face... had that drunk bloat that I needed, that I couldn't have if that wasn't going on. Moonshine is different than liquor. Moonshine is closer to heroin."

Imagine if the roles and genders had been reversed, and his Lawless costar Mia Wasikowska -- who, according to a boastful LeBeouf, tried to quit the film to get the hell out of his drunken orbit -- had been the one getting hammered? Or if, say, Jennifer Lawrence were to give an interview talking about how she showed up on the set of The Hunger Games drunk, and had sex with Bradley Cooper while they were filming Silver Linings Playbook. What would become of her career? She'd make the cover of Us Weekly (cover line: "Jennifer's Meltdown!") and be an unemployed actress faster than you can say, "Lindsay Lohan!"

When LaBeouf does it, we laugh with him, at him and move on. Boys will be boys! It's the same old song with that too-familiar refrain: Men are party animals when they get a little out of control, studs when they have too much sex. So what that LaBeouf has been arrested multiple times for drunken unruliness and other assorted bad behavior and has admitted to being the other man in at least two Hollywood love triangles? Bad boys are sexy. Doesn't every woman -- and gay guy -- want one?

But who wants to be called a "bad girl" off-screen? Women are labeled drunken sluts or some pejorative equivalent when they get out of hand and act like guys. I must admit, I'm not above my own gender-specific reactions. While I read the reports of LaBeouf's antics and looked at the accompanying photos, I kept thinking how much hotter he looks with a layer of scruff. Jennifer Lawrence could never pull that off.

That said, when Lindsay Lohan started going out and going a little off the rails (before she started regularly endangering the lives of others by trying to drive while she was at it), I actually started to like her more. I already appreciated her acting talent onscreen (yes, talent -- she rocked in Freaky Friday, Mean Girls and Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen), but she'd become more interesting off-screen, too.

The same thing has suddenly happened to Amanda Bynes who went from being kind of pathetic when she announced her retirement from acting in 2010 to being finally interesting after her involvement in a string of recent auto misadventures: a DUI, a hit and run, getting ticketed for gabbing on her cell phone while driving, tweeting U.S. President Barack Obama and asking him to fire the arresting police officer in the DUI incident. Drinking and driving is never cool, especially when you have enough money to never have to drive, but Jennifer Lawrence's slightly dull image could use a minor scandal -- if not a role in which she gets to play an all-out bitch on heels -- right about now. (I still love her as an actress.)

If you're rich, young and beautiful, you should be going out, having fun and making mistakes. Lohan, and now Bynes, though, like many a Hollywood starlet before them (Tara Reid and Britney Spears come immediately to mind), took the Hollywood rebel routine a little bit too far. A woman out of control always risks being photographed looking like a hot mess (which is exactly how Kisa, the woman whom Bynes hit in her most recent L.A. driving mishap earlier this month, described her).

The fairer sex never wears that look well. One man's scruff is a woman's fashion nightmare. If you're going to be bad, at least try to look hot -- hold the "mess" -- while you're at it.

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