Shia LaBeouf has been accused of plagiarism by comic artist Daniel Clowes, creator of Ghost World. LaBeouf’s short film HowardCantour.com, starring Jim Gaffigan, bears more than a few similarities to Clowes’ graphic novel, Justin M. Damiano, Buzzfeed reported last night. In honor of this I will now mostly copy Buzzfeed’s work and present it here so we can get the traffic too, an irony I’m sure they won’t mind.
Nowhere in the promotion for or credits of the film does LaBeouf mention the Clowes comic; Eric Reynolds, longtime editor of Clowes’ comics and associate publisher at Fantagraphics, called the film “shameless theft!”
“The first I ever heard of the film was this morning when someone sent me a link. I’ve never spoken to or met Mr. LaBeouf,” Clowes told BuzzFeed. “I’ve never even seen one of his films that I can recall — and I was shocked, to say the least, when I saw that he took the script and even many of the visuals from a very personal story I did six or seven years ago and passed it off as his own work. I actually can’t imagine what was going through his mind.”
Since being called out for the lifting, LaBeouf has been in damage control mode, albeit hapless, ineffective damage control. First he said he wasn’t copying, but rather inspired by Clowes. “Copying isn’t particularly creative work. Being inspired by someone else’s idea to produce something new and different IS creative work,” he wrote.
Then, woops, looks like he copied the wording of his apology from a Yahoo! Answers page. This wasn’t the Beef’s first brush with plagiarism, as you may remember. Where is Yahoo! Answers commenter Lily in all this? Has anyone asked if it’s okay to reuse her work?
At any rate, plagiarism is bad, I think we can all agree on that. The only thing worse than that is still being “inspired” by Daniel Clowes at like 30. Nonetheless, nothing of consequence will happen to LaBeouf, or Buzzfeed, or me, or anyone, because there are no rules anymore.