Nothing sticks in my craw quite in the manner of artists betraying their fellow artists. It's not easy out there to make something creative and new that has value and merit. Celebrities in positions of power should be HELPING those artists they respect share their work with the world -- they shouldn't be stealing that work and calling it their own.
Apparently Shia LaBeouf never got that memo. Last year, LaBeouf released his first short film, HowardCantour.com, to much critical acclaim. Yesterday, he put it online for everyone's consideration. He didn't realize that in doing so he'd reveal that he'd lifted the plot, characters, and even dialogue and speeches from a work by popular cartoonist Daniel Clowes.
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It's completely outrageous and completely inexcusable. Clowes is very well known -- and not just in the comic book universe. His book Ghost World was adapted into a film starring Steve Buscemi and Scarlett Johansson. He also penned the screenplay for Art School Confidential. As a respected artist, it wasn't long before Clowes' co-workers, agents, and fans cried foul.
This morning, LaBeouf put his website on lockdown and issued a terse apology. He claimed to be deeply sorry for not properly crediting Clowes, faulting the rigors of the creative process for this oversight. That's not an apology. That's an excuse. Movies don't happen in magical clouds of light -- they take a lot of work. He had ample opportunity to approach Clowes and/or the proper channels about rights. He never did. He also gave interviews about the film where he talked about coming up with the idea! All this adds up to one thing: Proving that this was no accidental lifting.
A real apology would be saying you stole the work, not that you derived inspiration from it. A real apology would include private overtures to Clowes, along with offering financial compensation for your theft. Imagine if Shia had stolen an unknown artist's story, someone who didn't have an advocate? In a way Clowes was lucky -- he had people ready to go to bat for him. Other artists aren't so fortunate.
How do you think Shia should be punished? Spanking is not an option.
Image via Splash