Movie reviews are some of the easiest things to write, and I should know. All you have to do is articulate an opinion. Yet it’s amazing how often this turns out to be too difficult a task for some people, and stories of film critics stealing their reviews – reviews! not even reportage! – are more common than you’d think. The latest offender, Liane MacDougall, who writes under the name Lianne Spiderbaby, for Famous Monsters of Filmland, Fangoria, FEARnet, and Video Watchdog, and who even has a book deal with St. Martin’s Press (!!!), has the additional distinction of being the woman spotted hanging on Tarantino’s yacht back in January. (I heard he actually stole it from an obscure Japanese yacht owner from the seventies). He’s also writing the foreword for her book, Grindhouse Girls: Cinema’s Hardest Working Women, which she says was how they initially met.
Mike White of Impossibly Funky discovered Spiderbaby’s plagiarism with the help of a tipster, and diagrammed some of the sites she’d been stealing from.
The July 9, 2013 piece, “‘Suspiria’ with Barbara Magnolfi,” pieced together sections of original writing along with chunks from Critical-Film.com (1), HighDefDigest.com (2), and EmpireOnline.com (3). Here’s a visual example of the introduction to Lianne’s interview (which is not plagiarized):
Without a doubt, Suspiria is Dario Argento’s best film (some of you may not feel the same, but I stand behind my choice), and one of the most atmospheric and artistic films ever made in the horror genre. It is the first in Argento’s “The Three Mothers” trilogy, which also includes Inferno and The Mother Of Tears. [Argento was at the top of his proverbial game when directing both Suspiria and Inferno as they defy everything you’ve come to expect from horror films. Not only are they brimming with suspense and incredibly stylized violence, they are absolutely beautifully filmed.] (1)
Suspiria defines the horror film as [a work of visual art. Scenes are lit with bright reds, greens, and blues making them look more like moving paintings than film. It’s a masterpiece of visual filmmaking. Suspiria also includes one of the most memorable soundtracks of all time. Goblin, who would score numerous other films for Argento, provide a haunting score and one that uses strange human vocals, the sounds of whispers and gasps to compliment the music. It’s an artistic choice that lends itself well to the film.] (1) In fact, it’s hard to imagine [Suspiria without Goblin’s soundtrack] (1). The 1977 Giallo classic is [an experiment with lighting, mise-en-scène and sound. Rightly considered the pièce de résistance of Dario Argento’s filmmaking career, the movie is sparse and plain as it follows a young American dancer named Suzy (Jessica Harper) through the stressful demands of a prestigious ballet academy.](3) Over the course of the film, Suzy slowly discovers that the ballet studio is run by a nasty coven of witches.
But it’s the beginning sequence that sets Suspiria apart from all the rest – it starts out late in the [night during a raging storm. A young woman runs screaming from the exclusive Frieberg ballet school. We see her hurtling, screaming through the woods, illuminated by lightning. After she arrives at a friend’s apartment she peers through a window into the tumult, only for an arm to smash through one window pane and, in a loving, extended shot, suffocate her against the other. While her friend drums hysterically against the locked door the gloved hand repeatedly stabs the girl. In the next shot the stabbing continues, this time in full close up as the fiend winds a rope around the shrieking victims legs.](2) Then, [we cut to the friend running into the lobby of the apartment building for help. As she looks up towards a stained glass ceiling, the victim’s head crashes through it in a hail of glass shards followed by her body. We cut to the blood-drenched corpse, suspended by the rope dripping blood onto the floor. Finally Argento pans the camera to reveal his next horror: the falling glass has impaled the friend to the ground, crucifix-like, the largest sliver having split her face in half. ] (2) This is horror beauty at it’s finest!
He goes on to cite a few more examples, and the commenters on his post discovered a bunch more. In the fallout, Spiderbaby first asked White to remove his post, which he didn’t, then went on to apologize on Twitter, and then deleted her Twitter account.
Hi – my name is Lianne.
I’m asking that you please stop writing about me online and let me address the issue. I’m writing an apology for my blog now that I will make available for everyone. I’m undergoing some issues right now and I’m receiving emailed death threats (and have been for the last month) which is why I haven’t commented at all on any of this.
I need for these threats to discontinue because it’s a separate issue – so can you please remove your blog posts about me so I can do this on my own, apologize to those involved, and then move on with me life without threats. I’m undergoing some issues right now and I’m receiving emailed death threats (and have been for the last month) which is why I haven’t commented at all on any of this.
I need for these threats to discontinue because it’s a separate issue – so can you please remove your blog posts about me so I can do this on my own, apologize to those involved, and then move on with me life without threats. [sic]
So far, there’s been no comment from St. Martin’s Press. And I don’t think we need to add insult to injury by pointing out that Spiderbaby seems to have even plagiarized a paragraph from herself in her email. She was flustered, I can sympathize.
But once again, I’m baffled not only by someone thinking she can get away with lifting passages of other peoples’ work verbatim (like really? you couldn’t even paraphrase?), but by how milquetoast the passages were that she chose to plagiarize. You really couldn’t think up your own unevocative Pete Hammondisms like “at the top of his proverbial game,” “brimming with suspense,” and “a masterpiece of visual filmmaking?” That’s just boilerplate jacket copy to begin with. It’s incredible to me that even people tasked with having opinions for a living can be so terrified of having an opinion. 10 years from now, people are going to be cribbing from Lights Camera Jackson (“It was soooo confusing!”) and I won’t care, because I will have long since drank myself to death.