Like most 20somethings, I grew up with Shia LaBeouf. When I saw online that Shia would be watching all of his movies for three days straight at the Angelika Film Center in Manhattan and that people could come in for free and watch along with him, I knew I had to go see “#AllMyMovies.” I was excited! It would be fun! Maybe I could crack the meaning of #AllMyMovies! Ah, how naive and foolish I was back then (yesterday).
My friend and I stroll up to the theater. We weren’t that surprised to see that the line extended outside, and we took our spots less than a block away from the theater entrance. I asked my friend Charlotte, what she thought of Shia and her response was solid. “I think he’s a little crazy, but he knows how to play the game. He’s aware of how this will promote his brand, and I mean also, yeah, he’s a little fucking crazy.”
It has taken us an hour to walk up the block and this is somehow exciting to me. The couple behind me start talking about how they came because they want to have sex on the seat next to Shia. “That would be legendary,” the guy muses. “Nope, that would just be a crime,” I want to say back.
The live stream of Shia watching his movies is playing in the lobby, so I get to watch Shia being watched on camera while I wait to watch him in person being watched by a camera. Or something. “Is that the meaning of the art piece? Am I maybe…a genius?!” I think excitedly.
I’ve made it into the lobby! There are benches here! My victory is hollow though, as Charlotte is forced to leave to go to work. I apologize profusely for acting like this would be a two hour excursion. “I’ll probably be in in 2 hours, sorry” I tell her. Again, I was made cocky by this early success. I would be humbled soon enough.
The group of 5 behind me unanimously decides to leave. “This is not worth waiting to see Shia LaBeouf. I can just watch this stupid thing on my computer.” Which is…fair.
I talk to the lucky boy who got to advance a little thanks to the group’s departure. His name is Zach and he’s 23. Zach and I bond over the fact that we are definitely in the minority here, as the rest of the crowd is mostly eighteen-year-olds. Which makes sense, because most people over the age of 21 are going to have actual things to do instead of sit around for hours in a movie lobby during the afternoon on a Wednesday.
He has a pretty insightful answer about why Shia could be doing this. “I see this as a performance piece, so I’m interested in this artistic expression. I think it’s really interesting that he chose to do a venue this small– it feels very deliberate. I think the point is to make a statement about how he can make people do something as mundane as wait in line for hours for a movie. The crowd is the crucial part of the performance piece.” I feel like Zach may have hit on something here, but before I can ask him to expand, a teenager named Jeremy interrupts. “I just came to see Transformers. I love that movie. I can quote the whole thing.” I am silent. I refuse to speak to someone who’s willing to wait three hours in line just so he can watch Transformers in the theater again.
A group ahead of me is watching the live stream on their iPad. I watch them watch Shia watching Shia. I ask if it feels pointless to keep waiting to go in when they can see Shia just perfectly right here. “It’s about being able to be physically there,” one of them sniffs, which I can translate to “It’s about being able to Snapchat it so I can brag to all my friends.”
My friend Emily shows up to keep me company and brings me a much needed portable iPhone charger, like an angel of technology. She introduces me to the iPhone game TenTen. TenTen will become the Wilson to my Tom Hanks over the next few hours. A source of sanity.
I can’t believe I’ve been in line for four hours. I know I can leave, but wouldn’t that be a waste of four hours?! WOULDN’T IT?!
Zach and Jeremy have both left. Jeremy must’ve found out he could watch Transformers online, bless his soul. I have been forsaken.
Basically everyone is sitting down in line. I lay down, staring at the ceiling, which is painted blue with wispy white clouds. This is my sky now, I think. This is my home. I will never get to leave here.
Emily left. “Fine. GO FOR IT. I DON’T NEED YOU,” I think. “I don’t need anyone but TenTen!”
The line moves maybe a foot for the first time in ages, and people start cheering. Suddenly, I forget my feelings of animosity. This is a communal experience! We’re all in this together, and it’s kind of beautiful. Of course I’m thrilled for the people who made it in!
I leave line to go to the bathroom. There’s a line here, too! I almost cry. Am I in a nightmare? Is this hell?
The people in front of me are playing Fuck, Marry, Kill. They’re all strangers who have bonded in line. Maybe they’re forming a lifelong friendship, I muse. Maybe the line is a good thing. How lovely. They start doing an impression of Christopher Walken having sex. It is…not good. I hate them. I hate the line.
I recognize no one around me. Time is meaningless now.
Two people in front of me make to leave. Their friends beg them not to go. “You have to stay! We’ve been here for eight hours, you can’t give up!” UH NO, they definitely can. This is survival of the fucking fittest, okay? One’s failure means a step closer to my success. Literally, it’s only one step closer.
GUESS WHO’S HEADING INTO THE THEATER, BITCHES?! ME! IT ONLY TOOK LIKE 9 HOURS, BUT SHIA HERE I COME!
So you can guess how I felt once I walked into the theater– triumphant, ecstatic, hands in the air, Eye of the Tiger playing in my head. I went into the theater, prepared for the experience of a fucking lifetime. What I was greeted with was a mostly quiet, very average movie theater. It was easy to spot Shia– he was the one with a tripod camera facing him, after all, and my heart skipped a beat. Shia LaBeouf, the celebrity! The star of the classic film, Holes! But as I squeeze into my seat (the theater is totally packed– I was told earlier by an employee it could only fit 50, hence the torturous line) and prepare to watch the movie (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, which also stars pre-fame Channing Tatum), I realize that I just sat in line for 9 hours. The last thing I want to do is sit for another two.
I can’t even see Shia from my spot. I would actually be better off being at home. Yeah, there is a certain thrill in being in the same theater as Shia, but I can’t even see his reactions to his teenage acting. And also, it’s Shia LaBeouf. This is not Jennifer Lawrence, or Brad Pitt, or whatever. It suddenly dawns on me. I actually just waited nine hours to catch a glimpse of Shia LaBeouf, the guy from Even Stevens. Fuck.
I feel obligated to stay for another thirty minutes (the film wasn’t bad!), but then I headed out. So what was the point of the performance art piece? To show how crazy celebrity worship is? To promote his brand? To put Transformers back on the big screen for the diehard fan (Sorry, Jeremy, that’s definitely a singular)? All of the above? I can’t say I actually figured out the answer, but I definitely figured out that nine hours is maybe a little too long to wait for anything at all.