What Do You Think Of Shia LaBeouf's Plagiarism Stunt?
Hey, do you remember that hilarious little kid with corkscrew curls and expressive nostrils from Disney’s Even Stevens? Shia LaBeouf was cute, funny, and grew up to be a decent actor with a career very few Disney stars ever achieve. Well, imagine he’s in your creative writing class, and you all have a story due. He struts on in with a comic book, some ruminations on the meaning of art, and a video project. “Hey Prof!” he declares. “Look what I came up with all by myself!”
The problem? He’s blatantly copying the stories of other students without so much as a referential nod. The real kicker is when he stands up in the front of the class to present “his” projects with snarky, regurgitated, pseudo-intellectual blather to justify is artistic laziness. (Blather that just happens to be poorly spelled and barely coherent, but it’s not cool to be a Grammar Nazi, so you’ll excuse us for pointing that out.)
Now stop imagining, and realize that Shia LaBeouf did, in real life, commit this kind of plagiarism. Instead of a student, he is a rich actor who fancies himself some kind of art philosopher. Instead of a classroom, the entire internet bears witness to this little stunt. Instead of another student falling victim to homework thievery, it is artist and screenwriter Dan Clowes watching his own story passed off as Shia’s. Furthermore, despite some awkward attempts at amends, LaBeouf also remains arguably unapologetic.
It all started when our adorable actor/art philosopher decided to make a short film, and released the trailer.
The video has since been taken down, but there is enough larceny preserved in that article itself to know that LaBeouf didn’t even try to do his own work, nor give credit where credit is due, much less as obtain permission or pay to use someone else’s material.
And Lo! The Twitter Nerd World erupted with all the wrath of a million underpaid artists.
The sheer magnitude of LaBeouf’s ego doesn’t really hit home, however, until we consider his interview with Richard Johnston for Bleeding Cool regarding this particular confrontation. With his disjointed, inflated rhetoric, LaBeouf asserts that nothing is truly original, resulting in a free pass to infringe upon the property of other artists. (His logic is a little fuzzy, but we're fairly certain that's the gist.) In not so many words, he believes the laws put in place to protect those of us who make a living off our ideas, be they written word or visual art, are principally oppressive. Alongside some truly original phrases destined to appear on an ironic T-shirt near you, he states, "Ideas flow freely between people despite the law."
To be fair, Shia did issue a few apologies to Dan Clowes, even if those very apologies were mostly plagiarisms of other people’s thoughts. Case in point. In a final effort to clear himself of guilt, he apologized to Clowes in skywriting. That’s right, SKYWRITING. Because nothing says, “I’m sorry,” like an extravagant demonstration of wealth to the tune of a few thousand big ones. Even if he got someone to do it for free, we’re not convinced the fact that he’s a big hot movie star had nothing to do with it.
Hey, maybe this whole thing was just yet another social media experiment brought to us by a former Disney star coming of age. If this was the goal, then it was a success, and you can go ahead and consider us (and most of the artistic community) sufficiently scandalized. Shia, you just intellectually twerked all over us.
What do you think of Shia's plagiarism scandal?