By Kenzie Bryant. Photos: Getty Images.
Jaden Smith, son of Will and boxed-water enthusiast, has been in Shia Labeouf’s corner since at least 2014, when he tweeted that he needed to speak to LaBeouf to tell him, “I’m Here If You Need A Fellow Insane Person To Talk To. But I’m Seriously Here Not Like One Of Those I’m Here For You’s That Everybody Says.” But he’s ramped up his LaBeouf support ever since the actor/performance artist opened the hewillnotdivide.us project, which has now moved twice.
As of Wednesday, the concept resides at an undisclosed location, and the livestream is trained on a white flag with black lettering that reads, “He will not divide us,” in all caps. The participatory element (more on that in a second) has been removed, but it hasn’t lost the support of Smith, perhaps its greatest advocate. It’s unclear if the two are confidants or collaborators (Smith isn’t listed the official Web site), or if they even know each other, but the performance artist in training spent several hours on Inauguration Day dutifully repeating the mantra into the camera on the first day it launched.
Now he’s acting like LaBeouf’s No. 1 P.R. guy, spreading the good news to his 6.17 million Twitter followers (compared to LaBeouf’s 538,000). Smith’s pinned tweet has 1,000-plus likes and 4,1000 retweets at the time of publish. His Twitter banner shows LaBeouf in front of an earlier iteration of the project.
The installation as it was originally conceived invited anyone to repeat the words “He will not divide us” on a livestream mounted outside of the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York. It was meant to run for four years beginning on January 20, the day that Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president, but the project swiftly became the target of online trolls, who took their rabble-rousing efforts outside of the virtual world. Men appeared at the site of the exhibit wearing Nazi insignia and saying things like “Hitler did nothing wrong.” Fights were not uncommon, and LaBeouf himself was arrested for an altercation that was captured on the livestream. The museum called on local law enforcement to keep the peace at all hours, and eventually, it shut the whole thing down.
LaBeouf and his collaborators were not deterred and moved the exhibit to a theater in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Five days later, though, that too was guillotined after gunshots were heard in the area, according to the actor.
Vanity Fair has reached out to Smith to see if he is working with LaBeouf in any official capacity.
This story originally appeared on Vanity Fair.
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