‘True Detective’ Creator Nic Pizzolatto Has Been Accused Of Plagiarism

Senior Pop Culture Editor
08.06.14 36 Comments

Life is meaningless and nothing matters, but that still doesn’t mean you can’t get mad if you think someone plagiarized your work. In this case, that someone is Jon Padgett, who believes that True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto “appropriated a significant amount of intellectual content and language from The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, a nonfiction book by Thomas Ligotti.” Pizzolatto has admitted in the past that he was inspired by Ligotti’s work and that, like a folk artist, he borrows phrases from external sources. But Padgett, the founder of Thomas Ligotti Online, claims that he has “ample evidence” that Pizzolatto’s theft is “unmistakably evident.” For example:

COHLE: We became too self-aware. Nature created an aspect of nature separate from itself. We are creatures that should not exist by natural law.

“We know that nature has veered into the supernatural by fabricating a creature that cannot and should not exist by natural law, and yet does.” (CATHR, p.111)

COHLE: And other times I thought I was seeing straight into the true heart of things.

“…horrible ‘inner Truth’ of things.” (CATHR on Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”, p. 108)

COHLE: So my daughter, she spared me from the sin of being a father.

“…non-coital existence…the surest path to redemption for the sin of being congregants of this world.”(CATHR, p. 34)

There are similarities, sure, though calling that outright plagiarism is a bit of a stretch. But it’s definitely not an homage, either, at least according to Padgett.

But what makes Nic Pizzolatto’s Ligotti quotes and paraphrases overt plagiarism? Isn’t this just a case of Pizzolatto being influenced by Ligotti – or at the very worst, writing a kind of homage to his work?

Absolutely not. “Homage” suggests that Pizzolatto was honoring Ligotti or showing him respect of some sort. Lifting Ligotti’s work without permission or attribution may have or may not have been a consciously malicious decision, but in any case it was neither honorable nor reverential. A legitimate instance of homage might be Brian De Palma’s film Blow Out, which is based in large part on Michelangelo Antonio’s Blow Up, or other films of De Palma’s that allude to the works of Alfred Hitchcock, none of which employ dialogue from the source material to which they pay homage. And anyone looking objectively at the depth and breadth of Pizzolatto’s plagiarism will know that this is not a case of mere influence. If a horror writer were influenced by Thomas Ligotti, for instance, they might write a story in which life is revealed to be a nightmare, a frequent Ligotti theme. They might even be influenced by his style of writing. How they got there would be a different story. Practitioners of plagiarism in mass media—such as Jayson Blair, who submitted stories to the New York Times that were taken from other writers—are almost always revealed to be what they are. Whether these instances are gross or merely conspicuous, as with True Detective, makes no difference.

Eh, I’m still not convinced. Do you have any more evidence.

There’s all the proof I need.

Via Lovecraft eZine

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