This article first appeared in VICE Canada.
In the latest act of the universe proving to us that we are nothing but side characters living within a poorly written movie, 4Chan just pulled off one of the most impressive, and pointless, internet heists of all time.
A preface here, I realize the broken experiment run amok that is 4Chan is chock full of keyboard-hunching virgins who have morphed into despicable monsters. The pol section of 4Chan (the section that conducted the heist) is a corner of the internet collectively stoking racism and harassing women online as sport. It is where the id of the internet went to die—it is an ocean of piss.
That said, sometimes bad people do impressive things—we can, at times, appreciate the work while despising the people (cough, cough, Woody Allen cough, cough).
The plot, like a goddamn Oceans-[insert number here] flick, involves CIA level research of flight and star patterns, Shia Labeouf, a man in the field driving a car honking non-stop, and a Trump hat hanging on a flagpole. However, much like the Ocean movies, there is a backstory that must be explained in order for you to fully enjoy the insanity of the heist.
The folks of 4Chan have, for some time now, been systematically fucking with Shia Labeouf for his "He Will Not Divide Us" art/protest project. The project first started with Labeouf setting up a webcam in New York. It was supposed to be a permanent live feed for the duration of Trumps presidency, one where people could look into the camera and chant the saying—this obviously did not end well.
The trolls started targeting people who went to the protest and, when figuring out their identity, fucking with them for days. The grown up Louis Stevens would regularly appear in his livestream and shit would get pretty heated, several times the actor screamed in the face of Trump supporters. This all culminated in Labeouf being arrested and charged with assault and harassment.
The non-stop bullshit surrounding his art project seemingly got to some people and it was shut down by the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, where it was located. Shia, not to be deterred, then moved the exhibit to El Rey Theater in Albuquerque in mid-February, but the fuckery continued. The live stream was spray painted and it was eventually shut down when gunshots were reported in the area.
Still though, Shia, ever the trooper, carried on. This time the HWNDU project featured a livestream of a flag waving in the air. The stream contained only the sky and the flag as not to give away its location to the trolls. 'Yes,' Labeouf must have thought, 'there is no way they're shutting this one down. I, Big-Daddy Shia, did it.'
Big-Daddy Shia would be proven wrong once again—instead of vanquishing the trolls, he started the most intense game of capture the flag ever.
The trolls using only the live stream of the flag, started, I shit you not, studying the flight patterns and contrails of the airplanes passing overhead. They mapped out what they saw and took their findings to flight radars to try and pinpoint a general area. Using the knowledge gleaned from the flight patterns they found that the location was near Greeneville, Tennessee.
The obsessed basement dwellers turned to studying the star patterns and their movements and with that, plus a tweet that Labeouf sent out in a Tennessee diner, the trolls were able to narrow the area even further—to a small patch of land between a house and a river.
This is when their man on the ground came into play. The channers were able to enlist a local troll to drive around the area and repeatedly honk his horn. I would like you, my fair reader, to imagine a man driving around a small Tennessee town in, what I assume to be, a 1994 Toyota Tercel just blaring the horn repeatedly while rocking a, again I assume, soundtrack from a Metal Gear Solid game, all in an attempt to fuck with Shia Lebeouf—this is a thing that actually happened this week.
But then, the trolly magic happened, in the dead of night the horn was picked up on the live stream and the troll posted his location to 4Chan. In probably the sweetest moment of his lil' life, the channer made his way to claim his prize. Down went Shia's white flag of defiance, up went a red Trump hat, and the most pointlessly convoluted game of capture the flag of all time came to an end.
It seems that the troll who successfully stole the flag now has it proudly hung, fittingly, in his basement. The latest iteration of He Will Not Divide Us Lasted a little over 37 hours.
Look Shia, bro, HWNDU was admirable in its intention but maybe it's time to get back to acting because, from the looks of it, these trolls have got your number.
Editor's note: Due to a copyright claim, we've changed the top image of this story.
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