The Shia LaBeouf story that hit yesterday was almost too good to be true. Labeouf posted a short film, “Howard Cantour.com” that he’d directed (which had played at a number of film festivals according to the credits), which, while well done, was basically one long petty diss against film critics. In an ironic twist, some actual film critics realized he’d plagiarized the whole thing, more or less word for word and shot for shot, from a 2007 comic strip by Dan Clowes, called “Justin M. Damiano.” Normally with plagiarism there are some shades of grey, but Shia had the decency to not even try to paraphrase the original work. It was such an epic f*ck up that it was almost poetic.
I was hoping Shia Labeouf’s apology would shed some light on the subject, because the idea that he thought he’d just get away with plagiarism this blatant and obvious in the age of the internet seems so insanely dumb and arrogant that there had to be something else going on… didn’t there? Here’s the long awaited apology:
Ahh, the old “sorry I forgot to credit the writer” defense. His apology might hold more water if Howard Cantour.com’s credits didn’t go so far as to credit the caterer without mentioning the the comic writer who basically wrote and storyboarded the whole thing. And all the stuff about “in my excitement and naivete as an amateur filmmaker” feels like it was co-written by his publicist. The apology has actually had the perfect opposite effect, where it gives the impression that Shia Labeouf really did think he could get away with blatant, ironic, public plagiarism. Hey, at least he didn’t plagiarize this apology from a shitty Esquire article like that other time. Progress?
This actually transcends dumb and arrogant and enters the realm of the pathological, where you wonder if he’s even capable of understanding the concept of stealing, or if he’s some kind of kleptomaniac/Carlos Mencia type. Anyway, as long as we’re stealing things we like, I’m just going to steal Patton Oswalt‘s response: