Shia LaBeouf plagiarized a writer’s work. But it gets worse.
And as a writer, I’m pissed.
Actor Shia LaBeouf plagiarized a writer’s work, then mockingly “apologized” by plagiarizing apologies. Then tried to explain himself by plagiarizing other people’s thoughts on plagiarism. Then tried to pass the whole thing off as performance art.
Here’s a short version of the Shia LaBeouf’s plagiarism timeline:
Shia LaBeouf read a 2007 graphic novella written and drawn by artist Daniel Clowes (@danielclowes – http://www.danielclowes.com ) and was so inspired by it that he created a short film called “HowardCantour.com.”
And by “inspired” by it, I mean he stole Clowes’ work, sometimes word for word, without permission.
When the dots connected and people got angry, Shia LaBeouf apologized on Twitter ( @thecampaignbook ).
There were a few problems with Shia’s apologies:
- He apologized for not crediting Clowes, but it wasn’t crediting that Clowes was owed. It was permission to create a film based on Clowes work at all, and probably monetary compensation.
- Shia LaBeouf’s apologies were also plagiarized, something he’d done before. (read more on past offenses)
Shia then hired a skywriter to write “I’m sorry Daniel Clowes” in a sky Clowes would never see, tweeted it and got a bunch of press.
Then Shia was interviewed by Rich Johnston, founder of BleedingCool.com. Their chat really underlines the depths of Shia’s douche-baggery. If you’re a writer and dislike the idea of a brat stealing your shit, I beg you not to click that link. (For a taste, at one point Shia the Shit actually says: “Should God sue me if I paint a river?” Seriously. I’m not kidding. I can’t make that up. Though, I would before I stole it.)
There are all sorts of little details to this story that would make any writer want to punt kittens. You can Google “Shia LaBeouf plagiarism” and read all about it at 100 different places. And all sorts mind-bending ironies would begin to appear if I spent too much time bitching about Shia’s plagiarism addiction. For instance, I’m not the first person to ever use the phrase “punt kittens” and I just gave Shia more press – now who’s the douche-bag? Right?!
There’s even a camp who thinks Shia is a destructive and glamorous old Hollywood bad boy.
I’m not in that camp. But I hope Jason from Friday the 13th is in that camp.
And there are compelling scholarly arguments that “It’s Not Plagiarism. In the Digital Age, It’s ‘Repurposing.'”
But even if Shia LaBeouf’s thievery is “repurposing” or “performance art” or just a desperate publicity stunt by an actor whose promising artistic career has devolved into playing with robots for money, this story still makes me angry.
Why? Because it is hard to make a living writing. The Internet is stuffed with stories and articles and tweets writers have bled to create, only to give those creations away for free, in the hopes someone will read them and pay them for future work. Writers and artists are working jobs they hate, jobs that devour a little bit of their soul every day, because they weren’t born of the idle rich or lucky enough earn bags of money, try as they might. And writers and artists who do make nice livings still don’t deserve to have their babies stolen and given to other families to live under other names.
Don’t steal word for word and pretend you’ve done something original or provocative.
So, finally I arrive at the fun part: The Shia Poetry Slam!
To work out my anger issues, I thought it would be fun for all the writers to tell Shia LaBeouf to fuck off in original and creative ways. I mean, if writers can’t verbally defend themselves, who can?
Hey Shia – hope your writing career is as short as Megan Fox’s thumbs.*
Hey Shia, I remember when I went through that self-important literary phase in high school. It’s hard. Hang in there. It gets easier.
Hey Shia, how about plagiarizing a new name that doesn’t sound like a 1960’s Julia Child’s beef dish?
Or, if you’d like tell him to piss off with an old favorite, just be sure to credit:
Hey Shia, “Suck a dick!” — Captain Dickson, 21 Jump Street (2012)
Send me your original Shia Slams by tweet @kidfreeliving or in the comments below and I’ll gather them all here so the next time Shia LaBeouf needs to insult a self-absorbed dick, he can just steal a few from here.
*A quick original apology to Megan Fox – sorry to drag you into this, it was just too easy and I’m sure you’re over the thumb jokes by now since you’re pretty much physically perfect.