It seemed so ballsy and honest, at first: Shia LeBeouf, a talented actor who’s taken some knocks over the years for his part in big-budget, generally bad movies, strikes out at critics with an incisive short suggesting that sometimes the critical and the personal become so intertwined as to impact the value of the criticism.
On Monday, LeBeouf released the nearly 12-minute short, “Howardcantour.com,” and it was fascinating, challenging (especially if, like me, you’ve spent a chunk of your life writing about film), and almost entirely plagiarized, line for line, scene for scene from “Ghost World” writer Daniel Clowes.
Buzzfeed was one of the first outlets to call shenanigans, reaching out to Clowes who says that he had nothing to do with the short, nor was he aware that his strip, 2007’s Justin M. Damiano, was being adapted by the actor.
“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. LaBeouf,” Clowes told BuzzFeed. “I’ve never even seen one of his films that I can recall — and I was shocked, to say the least, when I saw that he took the script and even many of the visuals from a very personal story I did six or seven years ago and passed it off as his own work. I actually can’t imagine what was going through his mind.”
Late Monday, LeBeouf finally fessed up, although it’s possible that he may have plagiarized a portion of his apology.
As Clowes says, it’s hard to imagine what was going through LeBeouf’s mind here. It’s not like Clowes is some unknown comic artist – chances are someone would have noticed much sooner rather than later that the two works were strikingly similar – down to exact lines of dialog.
[Header image from “Howardcantour.com“]