Shia LaBeouf is creating quite a stir in his attempts to redefine originality. In a display of brashness rarely seen by the acting elite, he has sought to boldly push the limits of artistic expression into whole new territories of laziness and deceit. Not only has LaBeouf spent the last year promoting a movie he had completely plagiarized as his own work, he has relied on this same trick by plagiarizing as he apologizes for plagiarism.
The movie in question is a short filmed titled, HowardCantour.com. It was debuted at Cannes last year and was credited as “A Film By Shia LaBeouf.” It was relatively well received at the film festival and it initially seemed as if LaBeouf had successfully pulled off his first attempt at donning the hat of director.
At least, that was the impression until the short was put online. Once the film was featured on the website Short of the Week, people starting drawing comparisons between the plot of the film and the plot of a comic made in 2007 by Daniel Clowes called, Justin M. Damiano. Initially reported by BuzzFeed, the similarities began in the plot but quickly spread into word by word duplication of dialogue and even direct use of imagery.
It turns out, this is a comic that LaBeouf has gone on record as saying he is a huge fan of. It also turns out that despite his claims of novice as a director, he has been actively directing since 2004.
LaBeouf’s response to this seemingly shameless skimming of another man’s work and his deceptive packaging of this movie as his own early work, was to apologize via Twitter. However, when Shia LaBeouf apologizes for plagiarism, he makes sure to do it by ripping off another person in the process.
This time, his content came from an old Yahoo! Answers post. The quote in question comes from the third response to a question asked four years ago about this very same topic. What is the difference between stealing another person’s work and copying them out of inspiration and artistry? LaBeouf, and the user Lili, seem to think the answer is essentially, “Copying isn’t particularly creative work. Being inspired by someone else’s idea to produce something new and different IS creative work.”
It is wholly ironic that in an effort to apologize for stealing someone else’s art, LaBeouf would steal another person’s expression while simultaneously insisting that there is a modicum of claim to originality left in the work he has “created.”
Some have noted that these incidents of theft are not sole instances for LaBeouf, and it would indeed appear that a pattern is emerging that shows that LaBeouf takes no issue with blatantly stealing his words from others. He has taken content from several sources and passed them off as his own, both in interviews and on Twitter.
Most commonly discussed in concert with this latest scandal is the use of an Esquire article during a public dispute with Alec Baldwin after the two of them tried to work together on a Broadway production and failed. In an email that LaBeouf released for all to see, he once again rips off an author by discussing what it is to be a man as if his father had taught him and not the man who had used the exact same words to create his own original creative expression.
The list goes on. In the interview that LaBeouf gave to Short of the Week pertaining to his completely unoriginal “work” of art, several statements were made about the process of making the film that can be found, verbatim, in an article on Vulture’s website. Another portion of this interview can also be found on a website called First Light Online, in which they/he discuss the importance of short films as art.
It seems as if Shia LaBeouf, while clearly well-read, is not really learning his lesson and though he apologizes for plagiarism, he continues to perpetuate the problem by pilfering a wide range of sources. The more thoughtful and expressive a person’s writing is, the more likely it seems that LaBeouf will claim it as his own. For those who are interested in comparing the abundance of quotes from LaBeouf and the original sources he took them from, several links are provided in the sources that can be perused.
By Vanessa Blanchard
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