Howardcantour.com
December 16, 2013 1:10 PM   Subscribe

Howardcantour.com is a short film about an online film critic, directed by Shia LaBeouf and starring Jim Gaffigan. [via]
posted by brundlefly (104 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Huh. It seems to be an adaptation of this Daniel Clowes strip. Strange that it's not credited.
posted by brundlefly at 1:32 PM on December 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


The end credits don't mention Clowes at all, and the Shia LaBeouf quote from the article ("As I tried to empathize with the sort of man who might earn a living taking potshots at me and the people I’ve worked with, a small script developed") sounds to me like he's implying he wrote it himself. Looks like shameless plagiarism.
posted by theodolite at 1:43 PM on December 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


How bizarre to stick so close to the comic, if so. Clowes isn't exactly low profile.
posted by brundlefly at 1:53 PM on December 16, 2013


Looks like shameless plagiarism.

This is really unfortunate. There's also a corollary online publication written by John Buffalo Mailer and there's no credit there, either. One of the reviewers over at Badass Digest seems to think this may have been a potshot by LaBeouf against film critic Damon Houx, and there is a strong resemblance between Houx and Jim Gaffigan, but that's no reason to not give credit where it's due.
posted by onwords at 2:03 PM on December 16, 2013


So... actual cannibalization?

(Huh. And the writer of that song is Rob Cantor. Elephants all the way down!)
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:15 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow. He must have authorization or ... something. There's something going on here. Otherwise it's straight up copyright infringement. So, I'm going to think horses not zebras and assume he cleared it.
posted by The Bellman at 2:18 PM on December 16, 2013


What's so weird about this is that LaBeouf is an indie cartoonist himself. And I just noticed there's an interview linked in that thread, where he says:
Then, a friend of mine named Ed Brubaker called me. Ed Brubaker said, “I’d like to make a short film,” and I had happened to be shooting a short film called Howard Cantour, which I did after working with Manson. Brubaker said, why don’t you try your hand at this? I had storyboarded my short films, I write my own short films, he said, “Why don’t you just embellish on your storyboard idea, and try this.
posted by theodolite at 2:23 PM on December 16, 2013


If this isn't some sort of foul up with the credits, I can't wrap my mind around what LaBeouf could have been thinking.

(As far as this post, I wouldn't argue against adding a note regarding the issues, or even deletion. I've never encountered something like this, so I'm not sure what SOP is.)
posted by brundlefly at 2:33 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Even odder is that LaBoeuf is specifically identified as a huge fan of Daniel Clowes by his (LaBoeuf's) girlfriend in this article from the Chicago Tribune, which is also about his appearance at Chicago Comic-Con's Artists' Alley.

I mean, it feels like it can't be deliberate, because it would be so immediately found out, and also what does LaBoeuf have to gain from it? But on the other hand, this isn't a fan film made by a couple of 19-year olds. It has an editor, and production staff.

It seems, actually, like the only explanation that fits the facts and makes some sort of sense would be that Clowes gave permission but for whatever reason asked for the names to be changed and his name not to appear in the credits. Which asks as many questions as it answers...
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:00 PM on December 16, 2013


Yeah, I'm really interested in how this plays out. I have spent quite a lot of time in my life assuring people that copyright violations and people stealing your stories really doesn't happen a lot in Hollywood, so seeing this really surprised me.

Apparently Shial LaBeouf is a big Daniel Clownes fan so it's difficult to believe he did this to intentionally snub Clownes.

If it's not a mistake in the credits, I think we may be seeing a case of unbelievable ignorance here, where LaBeouf totally misunderstands how copyright works.
posted by bswinburn at 3:01 PM on December 16, 2013


"The first I ever heard of the film was this morning when someone sent me a link. I’ve never spoken to or met Mr. LeBeouf."

Wow.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:13 PM on December 16, 2013 [17 favorites]


WHAT.
posted by brundlefly at 3:17 PM on December 16, 2013


And, in the time it takes for Buzzfeed's lawyers to cross the room and make a phone call, the title of that Buzzfeed post has an "allegedly" hurriedly inserted into it.

Every single part of this situation could be expressed in doge macros, couldn't it?

Such controversy.
So confusion.
Wow.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:18 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aaaaand the video is password protected now.
posted by brundlefly at 3:25 PM on December 16, 2013


And, in the time it takes for Buzzfeed's lawyers to cross the room and make a phone call, the title of that Buzzfeed post has an "allegedly" hurriedly inserted into it.

But the URL doesn't still fall to that edit. Wonder if you could sue over a web address?

I didn't get a chance to watch the movie before it was password protected, but this is so weirdly unbelievable that I can't wrap my head around it. As was said above, Daniel Clowes may not be a household name but he's also not some nobody who wouldn't obviously have a crossover of audience with the people to whom they are presenting this film.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:34 PM on December 16, 2013


(for those who didn't know (like me) Clowes wrote the Ghost World, the comic the movie is based on)
posted by Evilspork at 3:36 PM on December 16, 2013


What's so weird about this is that LaBeouf is an indie cartoonist himself. And I just noticed there's an interview linked in that thread, where he says:

A terrible "indie" "cartoonist".

The best bit of that business was the Twitter feud he had with Matt Wilson of Comics Alliance.
posted by Artw at 3:37 PM on December 16, 2013


Shia LaBeouf’s Self-Published Comics May Be a Secret Code from Space
posted by Artw at 3:42 PM on December 16, 2013


Matt Wilson describes his feud with Shia LaBeouf in War Rocket Ajax 109 from the 1:40 moment onwards.
posted by Artw at 4:03 PM on December 16, 2013


Note: The above is reprinted with permission of the rights holder.

First time for everything, Buzzfeed.
posted by dhammond at 4:35 PM on December 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Dude. I was about to share this with my sister. She's a HUGE Shia LeBeouf AND Jim Gaffigan fan. Thanks, MetaFilter, for not causing me to pass on plagiarism!
posted by chainsofreedom at 4:50 PM on December 16, 2013


Since latecomers to this post can't, at this point, see the film for themselves, can someone who has give the rest of us a rough idea of the degree of plagiarism? Was it verbatim? Thinly veiled? The reactions I see at top give me the impression that it wasn't very heavily disguised.
Thanks.
posted by $0up at 5:01 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


$0up: Entire paragraphs of the comic were used as dialog in the film. Entire scenes basically used the comic as a storyboard for camera and character placement.

As I said above, I often find myself arguing to potential clients that the movie they think stole their story did not. I tell them, "You need dialog matching. And not generic dialog, but very specific phrasing. Ideas are not copyrightable, you need actual expression of ideas copied."

I have, honestly, never had anyone bring me a case I found of copying convincing. I turn away people who are absolutely certain their novel was used to create a film. I tell them, "I don't think you have a case. I'll sue if you want me to, but you'll have to pay me hourly."

But if I had seen this, I would tell the potential client, "We have a slam dunk. I'll do it on commission."
posted by bswinburn at 5:15 PM on December 16, 2013 [15 favorites]


Yeah, this is no oversensitive worrying about a case of parallel development or something in the same ideaspace - this is a straight up rip-off.

Maybe Shia has that rich people's disease that stops them from telling right from wrong - "Affluenza" or "Cocaine" or something.
posted by Artw at 5:20 PM on December 16, 2013 [15 favorites]


Maybe Shia has that rich people's disease

I had one encounter in a work environment, but if my experience was accurate and representative, I'd say yes. It's not so much the wealth as the fame though, I think.
posted by cell divide at 5:22 PM on December 16, 2013


I feel sorry for the other people involved in this.
posted by brundlefly at 5:46 PM on December 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


I wonder if they were in on it being an "adaptation".
posted by Artw at 6:21 PM on December 16, 2013


On Twitter, Shia LaBeouf Kinda-Sorta Apologizes for Plagiarizing from a Dan Clowes Comic
posted by Going To Maine at 4:17 AM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


The first tweet of Labeouf's apology read:
Copying isn't particularly creative work. Being inspired by someone else's idea to produce something new and different IS creative work.
Well... Take a look at Lili's answer on this four year old Yahoo Answers page...
posted by KHAAAN! at 4:56 AM on December 17, 2013 [18 favorites]


I wonder if this incident will put a damper on some of those cute shorts the stars throw together for fun in their spare time. Like, is Gaffigan pissed about this?
posted by surplus at 5:07 AM on December 17, 2013


Plagiarizing your apology letter for plagiarizing your screenplay is such a power move.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:13 AM on December 17, 2013 [19 favorites]


He was just sweapt away by creativity! He plain forgot to credit Clowes after changing the name and claiming he wrote the thing!
posted by Artw at 6:38 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


It is just so weird to me that you would rip off Clowes of all people, and expect to get away with it. That would be like me copying Tarantino and being surprised when I'm called on it!
posted by Think_Long at 7:12 AM on December 17, 2013


Remember folks, in Hol..
oh fuck it.
This is just wrong.
Worse than "Mutt Jones" and those "Transformers" movies combined levels of wrong.
posted by Mezentian at 7:18 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Very very weird. How could he think he was getting away with this? Just speaks to a level of self-regard only possible from a celebrity. My wife the teacher pointed out that he never really attended school, and that the concept of plagiarism is something that needs to be taught. Still this isn't even sneaky...it's just... bizarre.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:30 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


This whole story -- especially once it reaches "possibly plagiarizing Yahoo Answers level" -- feels like a Christmas present from somebody who apparently thought I hate Shia LaBeouf a lot.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:52 AM on December 17, 2013 [12 favorites]


Anyone have a copy of this since it's locked?
posted by Napierzaza at 9:03 AM on December 17, 2013


The film is available on Buzzfeed.
posted by jabes at 9:08 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know, I have heard of young filmmakers who have plagiarized without really understanding the nature of their error -- they thought that if they changed or modified the text, they were creating a derivative work that they needn't credit to the original source. Or they were just so naive or inexperienced that they didn't really understand the process of making a piece of art based on someone else's work, and didn't know what sort of permission should be requested, or even that you ought to request permission.

Shia LaBeouf's mother is a visual artist. He himself has been in the professional entertainment industry since he was 14. He has a manager, and agent, and a lawyer. This wasn't naivety or too-much enthusiasm. I don't know what motivated him, but he would have known that you can't simply take another artist's work, make your own version, be deliberately vague enough so that people might think you were the author, and than just wash your hands of it by locking down the video and saying you fucked up.

I mean, for Christ's sakes, you've got the money. Get an agreement with the creator of the original cartoon and pay him before you start shooting. Afraid Dan Clowes might be out of your price range? Do another Transformers movie. Or don't do the film.

But this? This isn't just fucking up. This is the sort of behavior that, in other professions which actually have standards and ethics, costs you your career.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:46 AM on December 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


(Some of this is from my prior comment that got lost in the HD failure last night - and on preview I see I'm repeating some points from Bunny Ultramod but they are worth repeating though Bunny puts them more eloquently than I).

Fantagraphics was out in front of this early and not pulling any punches. BoingBoing's perennial Clowes cheerleader Mark Frauenfelder reported an email from Fantagraphics' director of publicity & promotions Jacquelene Cohen in which she states "Every-word from the 4 page comic created by Clowes in 2006 is used in the script".

There is also this choice quote from Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds from a Wired article on the plagiarism which is particularly astute in light of the most weaselly part of LaBeouf's "series of tweets" excuse for an apology, where he says "I apologize to all who assumed I wrote it" (classic "I'm sorry for your mistake" backhanded anti-apology BS):

“The more I think about this,” he continued, “the more I’m fairly convinced that LaBeouf at least subconsciously knew what he was doing. He never completely claims ownership of the script, as near as I can tell; the credits conspicuously do NOT credit a screenwriter or source material, stating simply, ‘A Film by Shia LaBeouf.’ When you look at that, coupled with the quote he gave “Short Film of the Week” about how details in his own life informed the script, it’s clear he’s trying to claim authorship without ever stating outright, ‘I wrote this!’ Which makes it even more egregiously shameless, in my mind.”

There are a whole lot of other egregious elements to his "apology" in my mind:

As KHAAAN! notes, it's pretty hard to deny that LaBeouf stole part of his "apology" from an Ask Yahoo! answer: the phrases "copying isn't particularly creative work" and "Being inspired by someone else's idea to produce something new and different IS creative work" are both exact quotes of that answer (does he not know the internet works for everyone else too?!). Hmm, I wonder how he came across that answer? Well I'll just point out (and I arrived at this independently, I don't know if anyone else noticed yet) that this Yahoo question thread is the third response if you were to, say Google "Picasso great artists steal". Just... chew on the implications of that. (it's possible I suppose that comment got a bump in the search ratings from getting linked around due to this story of course...)

And it's profoundly irritating that he behaves as if his only real error was in not giving Clowes attribution - given his multimillion dollar fortune made from the ultra-copyright-protective film industry, there's not much excuse for LaBeouf pretending he doesn't know that his first obligation before he ever embarked on creating so much as a storyboard frame for this project was to have secured Clowes' permission to use the work.

And of course the whole thing is backpedaling from the reality, calling the comic "inspiration", citing his "excitement" as the motivating force rather than, you know, his desire to take unearned credit.

As Bunny Ultramod notes above Shia LaBeouf isn't a child, he is a 27-year-old, thirteen-year veteran of the film industry and not the goofy, indie industry but the hardcore, rabid-lobbying-for-more-stringent-copyright-protection, mainstream Hollywood blockbuster film industry. Which has a long history of screwing writers so I guess he's got some consistency there, but yeah: this - both the plagiarism and his careful affirming of his authorship of the short without directly claiming it - was fucking deliberate. What he was thinking is mystifying (it seems possible he is so deeply narcissistic that he assumed his work would simply overshadow the Clowes connection, or that he simply didn't think it mattered). He would have been much better off if he had just skipped all of his apology except for the part where he said "I fucked up".

Final note I don't think anyone else has noted - LaBeouf's past apology plagiarism problems. I honestly think he may have a mental disorder.
posted by nanojath at 10:00 AM on December 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


I honestly think he may have a mental disorder.

I don't think he has a mental disorder, unless you call massive entitlement a mental disorder. I think being raised in the film industry and being famous from a young age has warped his idea of what's acceptable and allowed him to believe that rules don't really apply to him.
posted by insufficient data at 10:21 AM on December 17, 2013


unless you call massive entitlement a mental disorder. I think being raised in the film industry and being famous from a young age has warped his idea of what's acceptable and allowed him to believe that rules don't really apply to him.


I was going to make a joke here about affluenza. But then I remembered that had been done earlier in the thread. Which, I suppose, would have been funny in and of itself.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:24 AM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't think he has a mental disorder, unless you call massive entitlement a mental disorder.

I suppose you're right. It sure would be interesting if you could somehow be treated to an honest, unexpurgated statement of what really went through his mind throughout this.

I was going to make a joke here about affluenza. But then I remembered that had been done earlier in the thread. Which, I suppose, would have been funny in and of itself.

In my excitement and naiveté as an amateur commenter, I got lost in the creative process and neglected to follow proper accreditation. I'm embarrassed that I failed to credit @ArtW for his original "Affluenza" or "Cocaine" or something comment, which served as my inspiration. I was truly moved by his comment & I knew that it would make a poignant & relevant joke. I apologize to all who assumed I wrote it. I deeply regret the manner in which these events have unfolded and want @ArtW to know that I have a great respect for his work.

I fucked up.
posted by nanojath at 10:44 AM on December 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


This sort of reminds me of... I think it may have been Steve Albini, or a studio tech at Albini's studio, talking about when Robert Plant and Jimmy Page recorded Walking into Clarksdale. They were, he reminisced, very nice people, but nobody had said "no" to them since some time in the 1970s, and they had come over time to believe that this was how the world worked - that every suggestion they made was a great idea, and that nothing they asked for ever put anyone out.

They had become, by simple acculturation, hugely entitled, in part because everybody willingly treated them like gods all the time, for fear of losing their patronage.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:46 AM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I like to imagine some sort of thing where he asks Jim Gaffigan to be in his movie, and Gaffigan is very enthusiastic, and then moments before Shia explains to him that he wants to make a Daniel Clowes fan-film, Gaffigan stops him and says* "As long as it isn't some kind of fan-film. I hate those."

Shia swallows nervously.

"There's only one thing I hate more than fan-films, and that's Dan Clowes." Gaffigan turns back to Shia and clasps a hand on his shoulder. "But enough about that, what's this brilliant idea you had for a movie?"

"Oh, I left it in the other room. I'll just go get it," Shia LaBeouf says to Gaffigan and skitters away. Once out of Gaffigan's sight, he grabs a pen and his copy of The Book of Other People and starts scribbling over anywhere it says "Justin M. Damiano" or "Dan Clowes."

He returns to Gaffigan and proffers the hastily-adjusted comic. "Yeah, these are ... storyboards?"

"Ah! Excellent!" Gaffigan declares boisterously and grabs the comic in his meaty fist. He reads it, his face inscrutable. He flips pages in silence, while Shia watches and fiddles.

Gaffigan reaches the end and closes the comic. He sets it on the table and looks towards the nervous Shia. Gaffigan prods the comic with a finger. "I see what you've done."

Shia grips the arms of his chair.

Gaffigan leans towards him and suddenly breaks into a broad grin. "You've made art!" He laughs boisterously. "This is brilliant stuff! When do we begin?"

"Well, it's a rough draft, I should take a couple more weeks to change some -"

"No!" shouts Gaffigan, as he slams a hand on the table. "Don't change a single word! I'll make some calls, we can start shooting this afternoon. Within weeks you'll have a finished film and the entire world will see what you have written."

Shia chuckles, his grin like death and his eyes wide as an owls.


*In this version of reality, Gaffigan talks like a cross between Gimli son of Gloin and John Goodman's character in Barton Fink.
posted by RobotHero at 10:47 AM on December 17, 2013 [18 favorites]


It seems odd to me that this project made it to completion. It had some rather high profile people working on it - don't such people have people do their due diligence for anything they're involved in? That opening line is rather distinctive and is also the opening line of the comic. Though perhaps such due diligence is uncommon in Hollywood. You know how teachers have those online databases they can run essays through to see if they've been plagiarized? Shouldn't they have something similar in Hollywood? (I guess in this case it's a comic, so the text may not be so easy to search...) I'm curious if the readers at the various agencies and studios do run scripts through some kind of search just to be sure.
posted by bluefly at 10:48 AM on December 17, 2013


He himself has been in the professional entertainment industry since he was 14.

That's... Not a good sign, TBH.
posted by Artw at 11:04 AM on December 17, 2013


In the real world, if I were Jim Gaffigan, I would be furious.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:06 AM on December 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I suppose you're right. It sure would be interesting if you could somehow be treated to an honest, unexpurgated statement of what really went through his mind throughout this.

I want this all the time for so many people. Just... what were you thinking? No, really, literally, what were you thinking, I am deeply interested to know the thought process that led to you thinking this was a good idea.
posted by insufficient data at 11:16 AM on December 17, 2013


So it was zebras after all. Huh. 20 years in IP law and I still get the occasional surprise.
posted by The Bellman at 12:19 PM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Does BuzzFeed do actual journalism like this on a regular basis? Sure it's a celebrity story, but they seem to be the only ones who actually contacted Clowes to see what was going on. Given the mysterious lack of any writers listed in the credits, I had assumed Clowes pulled an Alan Moore and wanted to disassociate himself with he project. (I still haven't seen the video, so I don't mean that as a knock against Gaffigan's performance).

So thanks, BuzzFeed. I'll gather some GIFs that properly convey the 18 shocking ways I'm grateful.
posted by Gary at 1:07 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


As Potomac Avenue notes above, plagiarism is something we have to be taught not to do. Labeouf obviously has a problematic relationship with blithely appropriating other people's words.

Oddly enough, he seems to have a problem with it especially when it comes to apologizing. Seriously, WTF!?

In the Alec-Baldwin-Apology/Esquire-Plagiarism debacle a couple of you have mentioned already, he actually attempts to apologize by stealing someone else's words about the "manliness" of being able to apologize and own up for your mistakes (or your calculated douchebaggery, as the case may be):

"A man owns up...A man grasps his mistakes...

"Some mistakes, though, he lets pass if no one notices...

"He does not rely on rationalizations or explanations. He doesn’t winnow, winnow, winnow until truths can be humbly categorized, or intellectualized, until behavior can be written off with an explanation...

"A man can tell you he was wrong. That he did wrong. That he planned to.

"He can tell you when he is lost. He can apologize..." (emphasis mine)


Is it possible that he just doesn't understand what plagiarism is or why he shouldn't do it? Someone mentioned Led Zeppelin. Someone else mentioned Tarantino. It can be hard to determine where to draw the line between theft and genuinely creative appropriation of previous works. This is equally true of homage. And I suppose this is even more so in the ago of sampling and remix. Is it possible that someone like Labeouf genuinely doesn't understand where these lines should be drawn? (I'm not in any way arguing that he should get a pass.)
posted by eric1halfb at 1:10 PM on December 17, 2013


I want this all the time for so many people. Just... what were you thinking? No, really, literally, what were you thinking, I am deeply interested to know the thought process that led to you thinking this was a good idea

A person has an itch to gain notoriety, status, wealth, etc. via some project - whether it's bank robbing or plagiarizing - doesn't matter. It's a combination of a lot of different things - some wired (sociopathy); need for recognition; perceived lack; magical thinking ("I won't get caught"), etc.
posted by Vibrissae at 1:22 PM on December 17, 2013


Is it possible that someone like Labeouf genuinely doesn't understand where these lines should be drawn?

I feel like if he was somehow so oblivious that he didn't realize he was doing something wrong, he would have talked about Clowes' story, you know? I mean- it's apparently word for word, panel to shot for the most part. It's not like he subconsciously bit some of it or was inspired by the idea. He was adapting the work to film wholesale. If he *really* didn't think there was anything wrong with that, why not mention Clowes in interviews? IME creative people *like* to talk about their influences, and in fact Labeouf has mentioned being inspired by Clowes before. He knew he was doing something wrong, he just thought he could get away with it, because... reasons, I guess.
posted by insufficient data at 1:35 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I made this...

This just makes me think of this comic that (sadly, I cannot for the life of me find the original author/creator attributed) has been going around Reddit for some time now.

There is a mental quirk in all humans called Misattribution of Memory, which may play some role in how this starts, though I think that is being generous, given the public record of Shia having been noted as a fan of Clowes, as well as his past errors of judgement in trying to create things based upon other peoples works without asking permission or giving correct attribution.

What I really think is going on? Shia is scared of rejection. He did not want to ask permission to create this film, based word for word on a comic by a well known creator. He really wanted to "make a statement", which he felt reflected his own dislike of critics and how his own image in the press is rather heavily maligned (no matter what the reason. Ego is a hell of a drug).

It was not long ago that he very publicly tweeted while high on LSD. Not a very bright move for a public figure, but something very akin to something many "talented" mainstream actors seem to go through during their careers (see Robert Downey Jr, Joaquin Phoenix, Johnny Depp), which either adds to their notoriety and the mystique of being a famous star, or can send them on a path into the wilderness, never to return (Michael Madsen, Tom Sizemore, Corey Feldman).

Again, a lot of this also just falls down to people making assumptions about the whole creative process as dictated by society. I am sure we are going to hear from Gaffigan soon enough about how pissed he is at Shia over this whole thing. I know a lot of people will do projects with "friends" in the industry because they like working with other famous people. But this kind of thing is not going to have a payoff, at least not one that looks good on anyone's resume.

Hell, there may even be a very silly notion of "it's easier to ask forgiveness than beg permission" going on here. Shia thinks he has enough clout and friends in the industry to overlook this kind of idiotic behavior.
posted by daq at 1:44 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Of course, not that I think about it. This could also have been coming from the mind set of "I'm tired of acting in front of the camera, and I know enough to be in the directors chair. I need to make something that people will look at and see my director skills and give me a shot at making movies from the other side of the lense", since, you know, maybe he realizes he's never going to get any better roles than the doofy pseudo-hero who makes stupid faces while jumping away from explosions in slow motion.
posted by daq at 1:46 PM on December 17, 2013


I made this...

This just makes me think of this comic that (sadly, I cannot for the life of me find the original author/creator attributed) has been going around Reddit for some time now.

It's by Anthony Clark of Nedroid (and other things), originally here.
posted by cjelli at 1:50 PM on December 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Thank you cjelli.
posted by daq at 1:57 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually, I made that.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:09 PM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but you only made it after I made it.
posted by Think_Long at 2:15 PM on December 17, 2013


Perhaps worth mentioning: Metafilter's own.
posted by cjelli at 2:18 PM on December 17, 2013


Also worth mentioning: his comics are great!
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:01 PM on December 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


But this? This isn't just fucking up. This is the sort of behavior that, in other professions which actually have standards and ethics, costs you your career.

I can usually understand how people mess up in life, even if I don't endorse it or can't see myself doing it. This though, I have a really hard time wrapping my mind around to the point where I can figure out why it happened. It's pretty close to not understanding how students blatantly plagiarize material from Wikipedia and don't think they'll get caught these days. In that case, you have to think that there's just a major disconnect with how the world works, or students figure it's worth the risk, as they might be able to get away with it.

In this case, though, I can't figure out how any of that would apply to LaBeouf. You might say that he sees himself as being above the rules, but there's still no way that he wouldn't be able to predict the public fallout of taking other people's intellectual property. You might say that he simply didn't know about intellectual property issues, but I can't reconcile that with him being an obviously intelligent enough guy to make his way in the world at this level. You might think that he thought it would be worth the risk anyway, knowing what he was doing; but with a huge audience out there watching your movie, how would people not figure it out? There just doesn't seem to be a way to understand how he wouldn't know what the fall out would be of taking someone else's stuff.

I'm a bit baffled by this. The only thing I can think is that after writing your material, you actively stop thinking about where you got it from, and start appropriating it mentally as your own.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:15 PM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


wow. now he's apologizing again with quotes lifted from robert macnamara.


he just has no respect at fucking all. He's not sorry. He thinks this whole thing is funny.
posted by Blisterlips at 7:19 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


If this ends up being some type performance art, like Joaquin Phoenix, I'm not going to be impressed.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:37 AM on December 18, 2013


Shia LaBeouf Seemingly Copied Bukowski, Others For His Own Comic Books
posted by Going To Maine at 8:44 AM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Dan Clowes should sue this clown for how boring the adaptation was. Also: as any parent of a toddler can attest, the proper response to negative attention-seeking behavior is to ignore it.
posted by Scram at 9:26 AM on December 18, 2013


Regarding the Alec-Baldwin-Apology/Esquire-Plagiarism debacle referenced above, A Response to Shia LaBeouf's Kind-of-Flattering Plagiarism by Tom Chiarella.
posted by larrybob at 9:52 AM on December 18, 2013


After reading the article Going to Maine linked, I'm convinced he's doing this on purpose. Still not sure why but good lord, man. Multiple copied apologies? Maybe he thinks he's being funny?
posted by insufficient data at 10:46 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Has not been mentioned on this thread, but Howardcantour.com showed at Cannes in 2012 as well as other film festivals.
posted by larrybob at 11:26 AM on December 18, 2013


I had been wondering about festivals.

I'll admit I've never screened at Cannes but for a lot of festivals, there's a form you fill out when you submit.
posted by RobotHero at 1:13 PM on December 18, 2013


If this ends up being some type performance art, like Joaquin Phoenix, I'm not going to be impressed.


Thinking about it, this may actually be what striving for the (relative) credibility of James Franco looks like if you're Shia LaBeouf...
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:41 PM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Looking at the articles here, it seems possible that the Alec Baldwin thing desensitized him; he got called out, but the consequences/national notice appears to have been small. The comics plagiarism took place back in April 2012, and I can't recall seeing anything about how the content was plagiarized back then. Sometimes, when everything catches up to you, the only thing you feel like you can do is panic, flail around, and try to joke. Meanwhile, it seems like it's time to lawyer up.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:54 AM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thinking about it, this may actually be what striving for the (relative) credibility of James Franco looks like if you're Shia LaBeouf...


There's a joke here using the phrase "yes, if you squint really hard" that plays off the fact that James Franco squints a lot, but I can't put it together. I leave these rough parts here for someone else if they can and also feel the need in the future. No need to give me attribution. *wink*
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:31 AM on December 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I’m in the absurd position of reporting that it’s been brought to my attention that, yes, yours truly was also plagiarized by young Shia. Seriously. The “about” page of his publishing company is lifted from the “about” page for PictureBox.
posted by EvaDestruction at 12:15 PM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I’m in the absurd position of reporting that it’s been brought to my attention that, yes, yours truly was also plagiarized by young Shia. Seriously. The “about” page of his publishing company is lifted from the “about” page for PictureBox.

Oh, man. For some reason, that really clinches it for me. He even plagiarized the "about" page on his website? Who does that? You could simply write that you like movies and books and let that be it. It's not like the PictureBox about page is some amazing piece of writing. This kid is just plain Weird.
posted by bluefly at 8:51 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, he's an actor. He's used to saying other people's words.
posted by larrybob at 3:13 PM on December 20, 2013


Heh.
posted by Artw at 6:24 PM on December 20, 2013


It looks like Clowes' publisher may go after LaBeouf. Especially since it was found that he plagiarized other works from the same publishing house.
posted by bluefly at 2:05 PM on December 24, 2013


Gosh. We're now in the Cassandra Clare zone of plagarism.
posted by Mezentian at 2:30 PM on December 24, 2013


LaBeouf is right now making a big old joke of it, and frankly fuck him and I hope he gets taken for all of the money.
posted by Artw at 2:35 PM on December 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interview:

Richard Johnston: Tweeting with the voice of others. Is this art?

Shia LaBeouf: What does an artist do – they just point and say look at this.

RJ: No, that’s what a critic does. I am certainly interested though.

SL: I agree with Julian Schnabel , Jeff koons, Duchamp ect……
You agree with?

RJ: Scott McCloud.



SL: Cool, u stick with ur squad
I’m good with mine
Live good player

RJ: Do you believe art needs an audience? When they point and say “look at this” do they need to be speaking to anyone other than themselves?

SL: Of course – art is not about itself, but the attention we bring to it.
Art is a lie the makes us realize the truth.
In the 21st century there is NO personal language.
Just personal selection of language.
We are products of editing.
Not authorship.
Appropriation has been the most influential theme in art sense the 70s.
If you look at Warhol’s work and say ” oh well he didn’t paint that – its just silk screens ”
Your missing the point.
Our notion of genius- a romantic – isolated figure – is fucking outdated
An updated notion of genius would have to center around ones mastery of information
And it’s dissemination
It’s the 21st century, thug life
It wants to be fee.

RJ: Well, Warhol said art is what you can get away with. Gaugin went for “Art is either plagiarism or revolution”. Do you believe that opportunity is still valid, or is it all about plagiarism now?

As for “it wants to be fee” – is that a Freudian slip? Information may want to be free. But should the author be able to demand a fee?

SL: Authorship is censorship
Should God sue me if I paint a river?
Should we give people the death sentence for parking violations-
You’ll not only have less parking violations but less DRIVERS.

RJ: Jung said the only way to achieve true selfhood is to create what no one but you could possibly create and all the other stories are just guides to get us there.

I think God’s rights to rivers have entered into public domain now.

I don’t believe that parking violations deserve the death sentence. However fines are meant to be paid. If you park on someone else’s driveway, you should probably ask permission first. And hotwiring someone else’s car and taking it for a spin, is also frowned upon.

SL: The word law is against my principles.
The problem begins with the legal fact that authorship is inextricably
bound up in the idea of ownership and the idea of language as
Intellectual property. Language and ideas flow freely between people
Despite the law. It’s not plagiarism in the digital age – it’s repurposing.
Copyright law has to give up on its obsession with “the copy”
The law should not regulate “copy’s” or “reproductions” on there own.
It should instead regulate uses – like public distributions of copyrighted work -
That connect directly to the economic incentive copyright law was intended to foster.
The author was the person who had been authorized by the state to print there work.
They were the ones to be held accountable for the ideas.
THE FIRST LAWS ON AUTHORSHIP WERE USED TO CENSOR & PERSECUTE
THE WRITERS WHO DARED PUBLISH RADICAL IDEAS.
Simple – should creation have to check with a lawyer?

RJ: Do you recognize an inherent hypocrisy in your principles, in that you are a direct beneficiary of current copyright law, in that you have financially benefited from it to a far greater extent than most authors will ever achieve? That your acting work that has netted you millions and given you the financial independence that the vast majority of people can only dream of, is inherently a result of such laws? And that speaking or working against them in this fashion when they are the very reason that your word carries such weight and impact, can rub the wrong way those who rely on such laws to earn a small living? Can you hold a principle, when you reason you can hold it so comfortably is that you have benefited from the opposite of that principle being maintained?

But I come back to the original question. Is the repurposing of other people’s apologies for your own on Twitter art… or laziness? Is it an attempt to create, or is it simple dickishness? Can it be both? Is there an inherent hypocrisy in apologising for reproducing someone’s work without their permission on film, by reproducing other people’s work without their permission on social media? Is it all part of a wider plan, a wider statement, a wider artistic endeavour, or is an attempt to wind people up? Or is it both?

SL: Both
I never asked to be paid
And never profited off anyone’s back
acting is Plagiarism
Like magicians
We tell you we’re gonna lie to you

RJ: You have an agent. You have lawyers. Do you not pay them to ask for you to be paid, on your behalf? Aren’t you just outsourcing the request to be paid?

And can acting be plagiarism when it is being conducted with the author or owner’s approval, when they are credited as author or owner, when they are paid as author or owner?

When you apologize, Shia, is that the truth?

SL: I’m very sorry
I have agents to suss out material
I have a lawyer to get me out of jail
Nothing is original
Creativity is just connecting things


At this point I would advocate the death sentence.
posted by Artw at 7:17 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


Instead of paying for skywriters to post apologies over Los Angeles (center of the film world and the plagiarist's home, but not where Dan Clowes lives), I think the plagiarist should send a large check and a non-public apology to Fantagraphics, the independent comics company that publishes Clowes, has had some financial hardships of late, and whose staff has been forced to expend unpaid time and energy to deal with the fallout of this cheap stunt.
posted by Scram at 9:31 AM on January 2 [4 favorites]


"Ha ha! Fuck them, they're little people!" would be pretty clear and intentional subtext of this stunt. LaBoeuf is at this point a stalker and a bullying little prick.
posted by Artw at 9:33 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


This particular flavour of arguing that copying is just as legit as authorship is one I usually hear from people who aren't very good at authorship.

I know people who do make films that appropriate liberally, that would fall afoul of copyright enforcement. I've even done a few myself. But:
1) If you interviewed any of them about their movie, they will tell you straight up where it came from, "I juxtaposed audio from 1950s westerns and visuals from 1980s toy commercials" or "This is a re-edited version of a scene from 2001."
2) The results are much more experimental.

That he gave interviews where he was perfectly willing to imply his own authorship, and never once said, "Yeah, so I made it as a riff on this comic I love by Daniel Clowes," suggests to me that he very much enjoyed basking in the respect for authorship that he's now dismissing as a stranglehold on creativity.

Contrast Howardcantour with an episode of Lasagna Cat. Or perhaps this adaptation of Mary Worth. Is some ways, they copy the visuals of the original comics even more closely than does Howardcantour. But in doing so they create something quite unlike 99% of the films out there. When Justin M. Damiano was adapted into Howardcantour, it was done* in a technically polished but much more conventional way. I feel like if you're going to cite Warhol and Duchamp to justify yourself, your results should be a lot more unconventional.

*I'm resorting to passive tense here to avoid attributing the act of adaptation to anyone in particular.
posted by RobotHero at 12:08 PM on January 2 [3 favorites]


Shia LaBeouf Achieves Self-Awareness, Becomes A Being Of Pure Dickishness
posted by Artw at 2:11 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


He plagiarized Lars von Trier in another apology tweet? I googled LvT & LaB looking for someone else making that connection only to find LaB is in LvT's new fucking movie!??!!??!
posted by morganw at 2:16 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


There now appears to be a second Twitter account, which claims the first has been hacked and is upset at lack of support from the comics community.
posted by Artw at 1:04 PM on January 4


Shia LaBeouf's Self-Immolating Rage Will Lead Him To Death Or Glory Or Both
posted by Artw at 1:26 PM on January 4


There now appears to be a second Twitter account, which claims the first has been hacked and is upset at lack of support from the comics community.

And apparently that was all Ulises Farinas. Or something.
posted by Artw at 2:59 PM on January 6


There's something to this kid, though. I mean, frankly, drug use and bar fights are boring, and if that was the extent of his Hollywood meltdown, then he's just another shnook collpasing under the dual weights of a disastrously unhealthy industry and his own personal failings.

But Shia's big public meltdown? He plagiarized Daniel Clowes and then went completely off the reservation in response to being called out on it. That's not your usual Hollywood story. I mean, who plagiarizes Dan Clowes? He's a successful comic book artist and graphic designer, but, in terms of Hollywood money, he's a bargain (especially after Art School Confidential). LaBeouf could probably have had the text for the cost of walking around money.

And even after plagiarizing, this could all have been handled very simply. A press release claiming it was just a misunderstanding and a healthy check to Clowes, who doesn't seem interested in making a lot of hay about this, as he has been the most notably absent voice in this whole discussion. Boom, one check, problem gone. But, no, LaBeouf is skywriting sarcastic apologies and giving rambling late-night interviews with online publications in which he vaguely makes the case that there is no such thing as plagiarism, most of which he has assembled from uncredited quotes from other artists.

It's maddening, it's unforgivable, but I'll give him credit: It's far more entertaining than, say, Britney Spear's meltdown, which just seemed sad. This is the real lunacy right here. And I think it stems from somebody desperate to be seen as a real artist and not as some jejune former child star who lucked into a preposterous toy-based film franchise. Alas, he's not enough of an artist to be an artist, but it's really interesting to watch somebody with that much money and that high a public profile fail so spectacularly.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:40 AM on January 8 [3 favorites]


He's getting far more of a free pass for his stalking behavior than he deserves.

His latest stunt is tweeting his cease and desist letter, complete with final paragraph starting "Brian, your client is seriously out of control".
posted by Artw at 10:17 AM on January 8


I just came here to post what ArtW did, because I am really angry right now about this (which is where I read about that).

Like, Hulk unglamorous levels of angry.
posted by Mezentian at 10:36 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]


So I totally wanted to make a FPP about Shia Labeouf's obnoxious behavior and blatent copyiing of Daniel Clowes. I did a search for previous posts tagged with Daniel Clowes and didn't find anything related. Thought I'd lucked out and no one had bothered to post it yet. Alas, when I searched for Shia Labeouf I found all of you lovely people already talking about it here. Can't win em all I suppose.
posted by Arbac at 11:14 AM on January 9


I'm on the fence about doing an FPP on the practicing of selling giant copies of other peoples art for millions of dollars and how that is actually "art" and calling that "LaBoeufing".
posted by Artw at 11:24 AM on January 9


Here we go.
posted by Artw at 1:43 PM on January 9


Stop trying to make "LaBoeufing" happen. It's not going to happen.
posted by RobotHero at 2:00 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


io9 has a bit of an update about the Christopher Foss/Glenn Brown thing.
posted by Mezentian at 3:51 PM on January 9


Clowes, who doesn't seem interested in making a lot of hay about this, as he has been the most notably absent voice in this whole discussion.

If I were Mr. Clowes, my voice would be notably absent while my lawyers prepared to treat Mr. LaBeouf the same way a pack of starving wolves would treat an injured fawn.

If you don't say anything, you can't fuck it up.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:02 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]


[from the C&D] “No analysis is needed to prove that Mr. LaBeouf’s most recent transgressions violate Mr. Clowes’ rights under the law"

LaB's a plagiarist, but analysis is certainly needed to figure out if he's a copyright or trademark infringer (against Clowes). The movie was pulled from distribution. The Daniel Boring plagiarism is most definitely a parody or transformative work. He hasn't actually made the damned movie- he's just poking the bear some more. On one level, LaB's an asshole but on another this is a great conceptual art piece.
posted by morganw at 4:29 PM on January 9


LaB's a plagiarist, but analysis is certainly needed to figure out if he's a copyright or trademark infringer (against Clowes)

LaB has publicly admitted that he "neglected to follow proper accreditation." See here (where he now claims that he is "retiring from public life", whatever the heck that means.)

I'm not clear on what you mean by "analysis is certainly needed." While I didn't get a chance to see the film before it was pulled, from everything I've read comparing the two it seems very clear to me that it's copyright infringement. I don't know about trademark infringement, which is a whole different matter from copyright infringement, with a different set of applicable laws and legal precedents. The mention of "trademark infringement" in the C&D letter may have just been a bit of "cover-all-the-bases" legal boilerplate.

I suppose there will be depositions and testimony from expert witnesses as part of the legal proceedings, but those may never be publicly available, especially if things get settled out of court. This is not unusual.

The movie was pulled from distribution.

This might reduce the $ amount of damages Clowes is likely to get, but the film was released to the public. The fact that the movie is currently unavailable doesn't negate the copyright infringement.

The Daniel Boring plagiarism is most definitely a parody or transformative work.

I would tend to disagree with this. I can see the argument that it's inherently transformative to produce a storyboard for a movie that is never actually intended to be made and to publish it on Twitter for the purpose of getting a reaction, but I don't know that that interpretation outweighs the fact that the storyboard is still in and of itself a copyright infringement.

I would think, though, that Clowes wouldn't really expect any monetary compensation from the Daniel Boring thing. Just that LaB would knock it off with the poking.

this is a great conceptual art piece.

Yeah, except nowhere in this whole process has LaBeouf shown even a glimmer of the self-awareness or humor or, bluntly, intelligence that would lead us to suspect that it's all a conceptual art piece. So he's either an Andy-Kaufman-level genius at pulling off a long con with a straight face, or he's an entitled jerkface. I, personally, all evidence considered, think it's the second.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:14 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


> Andy-Kaufman-level genius at pulling off a long con with a straight face

Here's hoping!

#stopcreating

Even without the transformative/parody defense, the Daniel Boring storyboard looks to meet the "size of infringement" and "damage to market" tests for fair use.

None of LaB's actions are nice, but involving a lawyer in what's on the edge of being 1st amendment protected activity?

The Bukowski and other LaB-comics rip-offs are a whole other matter. I hope LaB settles with all the people he illegitimately ripped off (write that check on some underwear) up 'til the Diamiano one, then keeps up the "legitimate" rip-off.
posted by morganw at 10:51 AM on January 10


the Daniel Boring storyboard looks to meet the "size of infringement" and "damage to market" tests for fair use.

Yeah, could be. Of course, at this point, all we can do is wait and see what the lawyers haggle out and see what comes out via press releases and/or open court records (if it actually gets as far as a court case.)

involving a lawyer in what's on the edge of being 1st amendment protected activity?

I'm not sure what you're getting at here. The lawyers are involved because of the "HowardCantour.com" film, which is waaaaaaaaay beyond any edge of anything. The Daniel Boring stuff is just the icing on the cake.

And I don't see how it's a 1st Amendment issue at all - there's no governmental censorship. This is a conflict between two private parties. There are laws involved, sure, but in the same way that there are laws that say that if I offer to sell you something, and you give me money, and I don't give you the whatever-it-is you supposedly bought, you can sue me.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:03 PM on January 10


Man, if Hollywood hears that the 1st amendment means you can just adapt stuff without paying writers as long as you change some names they'll have a field day.
posted by Artw at 7:27 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


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