Nic Pizzolatto Responds To Claims That He Plagiarized Others When Writing ‘True Detective’

Earlier this week, Mike Davis at The Lovecraft eZine opened a big, old can of worms when he published an interview with Jon Padgett, who is the founder of Thomas Ligotti Online. Basically, Davis was already suspicious that True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto had borrowed heavily from Ligotti in the philosophical ramblings of Rust Cohle in the first season of the hugely successful HBO series. Padgett, on the other hand, was hugely suspicious and had done extensive work and gathered “ample evidence” to prove his theory that Pizzolatto “appropriated a significant amount of intellectual content and language” from Ligotti’s The Conspiracy Against the Human Race in developing dialogue for Cohle’s character.

That’s a pretty hefty claim, especially so close to the Emmys, at which Pizzolatto, Matthew McConaughey and the series in general are expected to clean up. Naturally, Pizzolatto and HBO aren’t taking such an accusation lightly, and they’ve issued separate but similar (presumably not plagiarized) denials.

From Pizzolatto:

Nothing in the television show ‘True Detective’ was plagiarized. The philosophical thoughts expressed by Rust Cohle do not represent any thought or idea unique to any one author; rather these are the philosophical tenets of a pessimistic, anti-natalist philosophy with an historic tradition including Arthur Schopenauer, Friedrich Nietzche, E.M. Cioran, and various other philosophers, all of whom express these ideas. As an autodidact pessimist, Cohle speaks toward that philosophy with erudition and in his own words. The ideas within this philosophy are certainly not exclusive to any writer. (Via Indiewire)

I’m no expert on plagiarism, but I know that using a lot of big words like that means that he’s super-serious. As for HBO:

‘True Detective’ is a work of exceptional originality and the story, plot, characters and dialogue are that of Nic Pizzolatto. Philosophical concepts are free for anyone to use, including writers of fiction, and there have been many such examples in the past. Exploring and engaging with ideas and themes that philosophers and novelists have wrestled with over time is one of the show’s many strengths — we stand by the show, its writing and Nic Pizzolatto entirely.

That’s certainly a strong vote of confidence from HBO, as any validity to these intriguingly questionable samples and the overall accusation could be humiliating for everyone involved. As fans of the first season of True Detective, we all hope that they’re not true, but it’s definitely not a good sign that Pizzolatto’s statement of denial was lifted from Yahoo! Answers.

Okay, I might have made this last part up.