More and more it’s starting to look like Shia Labeouf is indeed screwing with us, or else he has a serious psychological issue wherein he’s incapable of communicating in written form without quoting someone else without attribution. On the heels of his plagiarized short film starring Jim Gaffigan and subsequent apology lifted from Yahoo Answers, comic writer Josh Farkas and Buzzfeed have since noticed that chunks of Labeouf’s self-published comic book “Let’s F*ckin Party” from 2012 were inspired by some liberal borrowing from Charles Bukowski. As commenter Dick Reckard noted, “Good artists copy, great artists copy and paste.”
LaBeouf is the creator of several niche comic books, which share themes, stories, and even direct language with writers that he never credited. In his book Let’s F*cking Party, LaBeouf borrows heavily from Bukowski. Where LaBeouf writes, “Poets bore me, they are shits. Snails. Snippets of dust in a cheap wind,” he is taking the quote directly from Bukowski’s poem “More Argument,” which can be read here. [Buzzfeed]
I might wonder if LaBeouf somehow planted the Buzzfeed story to see if we’d all pick up on it, in order to make some kind of point (that we’d call him on being a plagiarist? I don’t know). BUT, I excerpted that exact passage from a scan of Labeouf’s comic book more than a year ago, so I’m pretty sure it’s there. And I don’t own the Bukowski book, but that seems legit too.
The Farkas piece goes on to document numerous instances of Shia Labeouf plagiarizing from a number of other sources, including David Mamet and French writer Benoit Duteurte (inventor of the Benoit Ball? I don’t know, I’m a Philistine).
One comic he created was called “Stale N Mate”. You can read the comic online here, alongside a series of (hilariously) glowing highlights. What I’d noticed by now is that Shia loves his stealing and is comically bad at hiding it. A quick Google search of the copy turned up that he’d stolen the story from a book by Benoît Duteurtre called “The Little Girl and the Cigarette”. Since it was originally published in French it was the perfect candidate for Shia’s creative *ahem* repurposing.
Farkas includes a video from Labeouf promoting one of his comic books at a comic convention in Chicago, where he says, among other things, “I made this all by myself.” (Sidenote: Who says that? He sounds like a toddler during potty training.)
So far, it all seems part of some pattern of pathological plagiarizing. But here’s the part that makes me wonder if he’s screwing with us, or trying to: In his latest Twitter apology, he’s plagiarized some other famous apologies.
“I have let my family down, and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart,” comes from Tiger Woods, while “I was wrong, terribly wrong. I owe it to future generations to explain why,” was adapted from the preface of a Vietnam book by former defense secretary Robert McNamara.
At this point, you figure it has to be deliberate, right? And if so, does that mean that this was all part of some long con that goes all the way back to 2012? I don’t know what the point would be (other than to prove that people will call you on it when you plagiarize stuff?), but I’d still have to respect his dedication. The only other option is that he’s an incredibly prolific plagiarist with a rate of recidivism the likes of which we’ve never seen. I guess I’m impressed either way, it just depends on whether it’s with his long-term planning, or with his utter insanity. Quoting Charles Bukowski? Okay, that’s basic college freshman stuff. Ripping off Tiger Woods’ publicist? Time to break out the straitjacket.