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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

On Twitter, Shia LaBeouf Kinda-Sorta Apologizes for Plagiarizing from a Dan Clowes Comic

Posted by on Tue, Dec 17, 2013 at 12:10 AM

Earlier today, the news broke that a short film directed and allegedly written by Shia LaBeouf bore a striking resemblance to a comic by Dan Clowes. As in, whole passages of dialogue and shots from the film appeared to be taken directly from the comic, with basically the only major change being the names of the characters. Tonight, LaBeouf's official Twitter account published a mealy-mouthed apology:

It sounds kind of like LaBeouf is claiming that he's producing something "new and different." Having read the strip in question and seen the film, I can attest that there's not really much of anything new and different in his film. He changed a mention of bagels to cookies, but superficial shit like that is all that was changed.

This seems like a stretch, too. The film had a long, very official-looking credits scroll, and Clowes was never mentioned in those credits. LaBeouf never mentions Clowes anywhere in interviews he did for the movie. He never contacted Clowes to ask permission to adapt his comic. He never tried to pay Clowes for the adaptation.

Copying the vast majority of a comic book directly to film doesn't count as being "inspired" by it.

He knew that it would make a relevant and poignant short, but he didn't care enough to explain where the short came from? And he apologizes to "all who assumed" he wrote it? This is about as passive as an apology can get. He actively misled people by not including mention of Clowes anywhere in the work. Of course someone is going to assume that a film credited as "a film by Shia LaBeouf" is going to be directed and written by LaBeouf. That's a safe assumption to make. The fact that there's no mention of the source material indicates that LaBeouf had some hand in leading the viewer to make that assumption.

This seems true. It's at least obvious that LaBeouf thinks highly of Dan Clowes. Just not highly enough to credit or pay him for his work. About an hour after that barrage of tweets was published, LaBeouf published this one:

At least we agree on something.


Comments (17) RSS

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I think I may have heard the name Shia LaBeouf before. Is he someone important? Does Daniel Clowes lose anything if this person copies him?
Posted by yuiop on December 17, 2013 at 1:33 AM · Report this
stinkbug 2
"[Howardcantour] is very personal... the impetus for the film came from this experience [press junkets] and it's my criticism of critics." - Shia last year in this interview clip:…

Posted by stinkbug on December 17, 2013 at 2:33 AM · Report this
"I'm sorry I got caught."
Posted by Luckier on December 17, 2013 at 3:16 AM · Report this
Puty 4
So dumb and weird. How does this happen? What's wrong with that guy's brain?
Posted by Puty on December 17, 2013 at 6:35 AM · Report this
BostonFontSnob 5
"In my excitement and naiveté as an amateur filmmaker, I got lost in the creative process and neglected to follow proper accreditation"

Shia, Shia, this isn't about accreditation. You didn't even secure permission to adapt another artist's work. Even if you had included "Based on a Story By Dan Clowes" credit, YOU DID NOT HAVE HIS PERMISSION. For Pete's sake, why didn't you even reach out to the guy? Is this how you think things work? Did you think Bay and Spielberg made that Transformers movie without first securing permission from Hasbro?
Posted by BostonFontSnob on December 17, 2013 at 7:25 AM · Report this
I would like to point out here that apparently the first part of his apology was plagiarized from a Yahoo Answers commenter named "Lili" (… )

At this point we've reached Rand Paulian, or Mark Driscollian levels of plagiarism. Possibly even worse. I mean plagiarizing an apology for plagiarizing is almost meta.
Posted by AedanCRoberts on December 17, 2013 at 8:01 AM · Report this
@1 I wasn't sure who he was, so had to look him up. His picture is in the dictionary as an illustration to the word, "dickhead."

(Well, pretty much, anyway. See his wikipedia entry.)
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on December 17, 2013 at 8:18 AM · Report this
fucker has more money than God -- that "apology" should be connected with large wads o' cash for the plagiarized cartoonist.

Cartoonists, by and large, are not rewarded with large wads o' class for their creativity, so such it up hack actor and pay for your theft.
Posted by judybrowni on December 17, 2013 at 9:35 AM · Report this
. . . are we sure this shia person didn't also plagarize their name (labeouf) from charles portis?
Posted by jonathan evison on December 17, 2013 at 10:17 AM · Report this
Posted by DJG on December 17, 2013 at 10:31 AM · Report this
I imagine that stand-up comics have especially strong opinions about plagiarism. Jim Gaffigan must be livid.
Posted by crater on December 17, 2013 at 10:33 AM · Report this
The first "Copying isn't particularly creative..." quote appears to be plagarized from Yahoo Answers (Lili's answer here:… )
Posted by astearns on December 17, 2013 at 10:34 AM · Report this
All we need to know:…

Actual Cannibal Shia Labeouf!
Posted by the other one on December 17, 2013 at 11:04 AM · Report this
it was hard to try to not get interested in this enough to watch the film. but after reading the comic and then trying to watch the film it was just like, felt gross watching the actors and all the people involved in it because they all were duped by that guy into thinking he made something. YUCK.
Posted by michael bell on December 17, 2013 at 12:49 PM · Report this
PLAGIARISM? Not exactly. I do not see the harm in what Shia LaBeouf did, short of him not including Clowes in the credits as "inspired by". In fact, considering the explosion of fan made fiction featured on YouTube, of which this ostensibly is, where lies the harm there in?

This is a SHORT film by an AMATEUR filmmaker. If this were a feature headed to Sundance in hopes of a big sale and studio distribution, different story entirely. But it's not. This is a story about a YouTube video.

SHORT films are not profitable. It's not like he was exploiting and stealing Clowes' story to make millions of dollars. SHORT films do not get purchased by distributors. Audiences do not buy tickets to see SHORT films. Most he's looking at is a couple thousand dollars from YouTube partnering, and I'm sure LaBeouf would have donated that money to charity if for nothing other than a tax write-off. He is Rockefeller rich from those robot movies.

And he very much is an AMATEUR filmmaker in as much as he has never been paid to write or direct a movie, ever. He made this short on his dime and from his deep pockets, which is why you see an extensive credit roll at the end. He had some money to hire a DP and a some sound guys.

Of course it is not ideal that he took major "inspiration" from Dan Clowes without giving him credit. That was a shitty thing to do. He should have even thrown him a few bucks because he can afford it. But again, Shia LaBeouf wasn't doing this for profit. It was just a SHORT film he wanted to throw on YouTube and considering the massive onslaught of PLAGIARISM that is prominently featured on YouTube, this is far, so damn far from egregious. In fact, considering the explosion of fan made fiction featured on YouTube, of which this ostensibly is, where is the real harm? In a sense, if LaBeouf had given Clowes credit, he would have been doing him a major favor by the making of this short which would and has garnered interest in Clowes work. Interest that would otherwise most certainly not exist.

To quote indie filmmaker legend and icon Jim Jarmusch:

"Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your should. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don't bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said "it's not where you take things from - its where you take them to."

Enough said. Internet, please remove yourself from Mr. LaBeouf's nuts. Thanks.
Posted by Smoothevity on December 17, 2013 at 1:43 PM · Report this
BostonFontSnob 16
@15 Hey guy, you know how this is different from fan films? Those people that make fan films for Wonder Woman or Star Wars or whatever, they usually don't imply to the viewer that they came up with the idea for Wonder Woman or Star Wars.

Sorry, this is plagiarism not "inspiration", case closed.
Posted by BostonFontSnob on December 18, 2013 at 7:23 AM · Report this
larrybob 17
Smoothevity, the short showed at Cannes. Not exactly Sundance, I know.
Posted by larrybob on December 18, 2013 at 11:17 AM · Report this

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