Aren’t actors the most pathological of all the liars? Shia LaBeouf is certainly used to saying other people’s words and using them as his own, and has been doing so for most of his life. His life is literally a lie. Lying and forging are a part of his DNA. Owning other’s words are what he gets paid to do. Are others complicit in his forgery? The producers and other actors? Should they bee set free for not researching the material? I’m not forgiving or justifying, just trying to understand instead of judge and point. That type of communication is fascist and only leads to assumptions and generalizations. And yes I am self-righteous, and admit it just to cut my own critics off at the pass. I do have critics I hope, or this is all for nothing.
The Hollywood machine, and many creatives outside of that realm, may disguise their plagiarized inspiration better than Shia, but isn’t this an argument based on a semantic technicality? Credit! Isn’t the entertainment industry an industry of rehashed, remodeled stories, and re-imagined franchises with sequels and parodies to guarantee interest and profit? Wasn’t Coming To America the coolest film ever made from a stolen, uncredited story? We know this. It’s not news. Parodies have the law to justify them, though many find them offensive for the same reasons people find plagiarizing offensive: Unoriginality. Is originality the pinnacle of creativity? So much originality goes by the wayside when money is involved.
The style of film making that made that TV show Homicide so popular and all of the jump cutting and floating camera techniques music videos started incorporating that were so popular in the 90s, were taken from Stan Brakhage, a filmmaker you’ve never heard of because they copped his style without regard. Also, techniques can’t be copyrighted like words. He never got compensation or props, he just forged ahead pioneering because he had films to make. Think about the success of Beck and Tarantino, et.al. Emulation? Inspiration? Sampling? Homage? or something sneakier? Take away all of Kanye’s and Jay-Z’s samples and you are left with grunting a groaning in fancy cars. Gus Van Sant tried to shot-for-shot remake Psycho, and to many creative’s contempt because why would he fuck with perfection? Why disrespect Hitchcock and cinema with a diluted watered down version starring Vince Vaughn? Even though it was “above board” and homage, it didn’t make it right…did it? But everyone knew the source material. There was no sneakiness. So awareness is the key? You want full disclosure. We can’t handle the truth. “If only I would have known you were coming home late, I wouldn’t have made dinner for the both of us.” If you call and say you’ll be late, your wife will still be mad. It doesn’t matter.
He should have known better? To “know better” isn’t enough. If it were, we wouldn’t go to war, or yell fuck you to someone we love. If simply knowing better was the cure for not fucking up we would all be better people but we are not. Hypocrisy is a puddle too big not to step in. Especially for those in the extra-bright spotlight. To do better is a whole other level of action. We all know we should recycle, but do we always recycle? Isn’t it bad to know you should, but not, but just this once because there is only a trash can near by and a homeless person will probably fish it out. We ALL know better.
As a creative who lives in fear of the constant possibility of unconscious plagiarism, always processing, reading, hearing other people’s jokes and reading other people’s tweets, not a tweet or idea goes by that I don’t try to police myself and what is being recorded as “my own idea.” Accidental plagiarism is to plagiarism as manslaughter is to murder. Except no one dies in the former part of the analogy. So many war crimes being committed. So many lies being told to us by our own government, and this is what we have PASSION about?
The contempt an innocuous mistake like this brings out in people is more of a problem than the problem itself. His problem is his own. This contempt is ours, collectively, to wallow in. To grow our hatred in these moments that will be taken care of by entertainment lawyers. This is where justice must be served?
Instead, let us try and re-frame what happened and its implications. How bout we think of the good that came from Shia’s fuck-up? Now, millions of people know about Dan Clowes that didn’t, even more so than would have known about him if he had been given credit in the first place. I’m willing to bet his Klout score goes up and he sells more of what he has for sale because a famous actor tried to steal his work. Irony at its finest.