A lot can happen over the course of 24 hours, but I’m pretty sure Shia LaBeouf’s earned a new world record for hitting the speed of stupid.
Cannes Film Festival 2012 – Shia LaBeouf unveils a short film (his directorial debut) called Howard Cantour.com, starring Jim Gaffigan as a disenchanted film critic. It gets pretty decent reviews.
Monday, December 16, 2013 – LaBeouf uploads the short film to Vimeo.com and all hell breaks loose because not only does the film’s concept smell familiar, it IS familiar…turns out it borrows heavily from a comic called “Justin M. Damiano” released in 2007 written by none other than Daniel Clowes (who created Ghost World and Art School Confidential, which were also made into films).
Clowes’ publisher, Fantagraphics, was not amused.
“Shia LaBeouf’s new short film, HowardCantour.com, is a complete rip off of Daniel Clowes’s comic “Justin M. Damiano.” Every-word from the 4 page comic created by Clowes in 2006 is used in the script for LaBeouf’s directional debut. Clowes never authorized the use of his comic for HowardCantour.com. He had no knowledge that he had been plagiarized until today when the film was posted on Vimeo.”
As a fan of LaBeouf’s from his days on Disney Channel’s “Even Stevens,” I wanted to believe that it was just a coincidence that Howard Cantour.com and Clowes’ comic had the same feel; then I saw the short and was disappointed and angry at the same time. THEN when I checked out the film’s IMDb page and noted the absence of a writer’s credit for ANYone (and anyone with an IMDb page of their own will tell you that they fight tooth and nail for EVERY credit, even if their scene or words are cut from the final product), I was flat out pissed.
And I wasn’t the only one, either. Clowes himself told Buzzfeed, “I actually can’t imagine what was going through his mind,” while Clowes fans (and I’m guessing a TON of Shia haters) took LaBoeuf to task on Twitter once he jumped on to apologize, including the likes of James Urbaniak and Wil Wheaton.
However, it’s comedian/actor/comic book lover Patton Oswalt who once again wins the internet. Not only did he rip LaBeouf a new a-hole in several tweets, he put a period on the whole thing:
BUT WAIT! THAT’S NOT ALL!
NOW it turns out LaBeouf has plagiarized part of his apologetic statement…let’s review.
The first part of his apology tweet reads:
That’s all well and good, buuuuuut THEN savvy internet kids noticed that this, too, smelled familiar.
You gotta be sh***ing me, kid. You lifted from some random person answering a question in reference to “Why did Picasso say ‘good artists copy but great artists steal’?” in a Yahoo Answers thread?!
C’mon, Shia: you had a YEAR to come forward…hell, you could AND SHOULD have said it during the junkets at Cannes before and after your screening and chose not to. Did you think no one would notice? As a huge fan of Clowes yourself, are you THAT silly to believe that no one would recognize his pacing and words – no matter how much you messed with it – or at times, just simply copy/pasted?
I’m not one of the ones who want to have you drawn and quartered, but I am wondering why your own team didn’t back you up and why you didn’t just reach out to Clowes directly? You’ve collaborated with Marilyn Manson, for f***’s sake; I’m sure you and Clowes could’ve worked something out.
I also feel for actors Jim Gaffigan, Thomas Lennon and others who put their time into a film that is now tainted.
Howard Cantour.com was pulled from Vimeo, but Buzzfeed (for some weird reason) has decided to publish a ripped version of it. If you’re looking to do a side-by-side comparison and you can’t find a legal way to see it, head over there and watch it.
I’ll leave LaBeouf with a bit of advice with lyrics courtesy of The Smiths and their song, “Cemetry Gates.”
“You say : “‘Ere thrice the sun done salutation to the dawn”
And you claim these words as your own
But I’ve read well, and I’ve heard them said
A hundred times (maybe less, maybe more)
If you must write prose/poems
The words you use should be your own
Don’t plagiarise or take “on loan”
‘Cause there’s always someone, somewhere
With a big nose, who knows
And who trips you up and laughs
When you fall
Who’ll trip you up and laugh
When you fall…”
Where do you go from here, young man? I guess we’ll find out, right?
P.S. – Thanks to “Roseanne” for the brilliant “speed of stupid” line I heard once in an episode when the power was shut off in The Conner household.
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