A live stream of Shia LaBeouf chanting was disrupted by Nazi-themed dancing. Then things got weird.
By Avi Selk
On the day of President Trump’s inauguration, two poorly understood forces of the Internet collided in a sort of bizarre death lock — a struggle that has manifested in the real world as Nazi-costumed dances in New York, a meticulously planned theft in rural Tennessee and last month, a raid on a British rooftop.
These forces are called 4chan and Shia LaBeouf.
LaBeouf is a Hollywood star who recently restyled himself as a highly meme-able performance artist — limiting his public utterances to a string of repeat tweets, for example, or showing up to a film festival with a paper bag on his head.
4chan is the magmatic underworld of the Internet: an anonymous forum whose millions of users gave the world the delights of Rickrolling, the misogyny of Gamergate and the corruption of Pepe the Frog.
Lately, 4chan’s vast energies have been spent disrupting a single webcam. LaBeouf’s art group installed the camera outside a museum in New York on Jan. 20, inviting the public to join the star in chanting: “He will not divide us … he will not divide us.”
“He Will Not Divide Us” was supposed to last the duration of Trump’s first term.
Almost instantly, 4chan users turned the live feed into hell’s own reality show.
Dubbed “Season 1” on 4chan and associated forums, the New York live stream was forced to relocate after self-professed neo-Nazis and other disrupters kept making cameos — provoking LaBeouf until he was arrested and accused of assaulting a troll.
Since then, the struggle has shifted to Seasons 2 through 4 — in which trolls pursued the webcam across the United States, until the artists were forced to replace the public chanting with a live feed of a guarded flag, which forum users have twice found and tried to steal, most recently on a rooftop in Britain.