I’m tempted to just repost CHUD.com’s breakdown of the whole Shia LaBeouf art-theft deal, without any credit, as a hilarious meta-commentary. But even as a joke, that makes me queasy. Also, I typed the hyphenate “meta-commentary” and I feel like I should be set on fire for it. So let’s leave that and go back to 6 o’clock Tuesday morning.
I had just gotten up and was checking Twitter while enjoying my first cup of coffee. While scrolling through my timeline, I saw this tweet
.@thecampaignbook You don't say. What would have led people to "assume" you wrote it? Hmmmmm. Life's a kooky puzzle, huh?
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) December 17, 2013
— scharpling (@scharpling) December 17, 2013
You really, really did. And you should be ashamed of yourself. RT @thecampaignbook: I fucked up.
— Wil Wheaton (@wilw) December 17, 2013
I already follow Patton, Tom and Wil, but I had no idea who @thecampaignbook was. Even though it was only 6 am and I was just a sip into my first coffee, I was firmly intrigued. I dug through the timelines and slowly began to figure out what was going on.
I learned that @thecampaignbook is the actor Shia LeBeouf – he of Transformers and Indiana Jones and the Stupid Aliens fame. My wife can’t stand him. But what could he have done to earn the ire and disdain of some of my favorite people on the internet? Turns out he
stole neglected to follow proper accreditation when turning a Dan Clowes comic into a film short that he ‘created’. The comic, by Clowes, is called Justin M. Damiano. Apparently LeBeouf copied dialogue verbatim and even some of the staging of the images, directly from the comic. The CHUD link up top has a good breakdown.
As I put the story together and read LeBeouf’s tweets (which included a not-pology) one of them really stuck out to me.
In my excitement and naiveté as an amateur filmmaker, I got lost in the creative process and neglected to follow proper accreditation
— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 17, 2013
I understand getting lost in the creative process. I really do. It’s that feeling I get when I’ve been working on a drawing and my brain starts to fog over and I get tunnel vision. Nothing exists but my hand and the pencil and the paper. But making a drawing is not the same as making a film. LeBeouf wasn’t alone – cribbing some drawings while in the grips of a creative fury. No. He had his idea, wrote (some) of it, probably re-wrote (some) of it, hired a crew, cast actors, (probably) gave notes during the filming, editing and so on. And I’m pretty sure he had input on the credits which read: “A Film by Shia LeBeouf” and NOT “A Film by Shia LeBeouf / Adapted from the comic Justin M. Damiano by Daniel Clowes”. This process took time. And that’s quite a long stretch to go while being caught in the ferver of the creative process and ‘forget’ to credit a source, let alone get their permission. I don’t fucking buy it.
I’ve seen enough of my friends and collegues have their art stolen or copied without permission. It seems to me that there are rarely repercussions. Sure, sometimes people aren’t aware of copyright and fair use, I get that. But I think that much of the time it seems like the thieves know better. They just don’t care. I really believe that.
It’s easier to just do whatever the hell you want and apologize later. That is, if you even happen to get caught.
I will leave you with some tweets from former Lab contributor Box Brown. They cracked me up while I was very angry about this whole episode.