Shia LaBouf as Sam Witwicky in "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." Photo Credit: DreamWorks SKG and Paramount Pictures

Shia LaBeouf Apologizes After Plagiarizing Artist Daniel Clowes


It was just Monday when Transformers actor Shia LaBeouf posted his new short film HowardCantour.com online for all to see. However, according to Buzzfeed, there is already major controversy surrounding the works as LaBeouf has been called to the carpet for plagiarizing artist Daniel Clowes’ work. Earlier today, the actor took to Twitter to apologize for his indiscretion.

The piece originally debuted at the May 2012 Cannes Film Festival. It stars comedian Jim Gaffigan as online film critic Howard Cantour. It wasn’t until the film was posted online on Monday that the film was met with criticism. It has been deemed as an almost direct adaption of Justin M. Damiano by artist Daniel Clowes.

Not only do these two pieces share numerous visuals throughout, HowardCantour.com also directly quotes the latter in its opening.

“A critic is a warrior, and each of us on the battlefield have the means to glorify or demolish (whether a film, a career, or an entire philosophy) by influencing perception in ways that if heartfelt and truthful, can have far-reaching repercussions.”

Here’s where things get sticky. There is absolutely no mention of Clowes’ original work anywhere within the film, or in the film’s credits.

According to Buzzfeed, prior to this incident, Clowes didn’t even know who LaBeouf was; however, he was rather disturbed by the situation.

“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.”

This morning, LaBeouf took to Twitter to issue a public apology for the incident.

“Copying isn’t particularly creative work. Being inspired by someone else’s idea to produce something new and different IS creative work.” He says. “In my excitement and naiveté as an amateur filmmaker, I got lost in the creative process and neglected to follow proper accreditation. I’m embarrassed that I failed to credit @danielclowes for his original graphic novella Justin M. Damiano, which served as my inspiration. I was truly moved by his piece of work & I knew that it would make a poignant & relevant short. I apologize to all who assumed I wrote it. I deeply regret the manner in which these events have unfolded and want @danielclowes to know that I have a great respect for his work. I f—– up.”

In a bit of sidebar, Buzzfeed also notes that his apology sounds awful familiar. They cited a posted from Yahoo! Answers from over 4 years ago on a post where a user asks a question about Picasso and whether or not he has stolen someone’s art or idea.

A user by the name of Lili answered the question with this,

“Merely copying isn’t particularly creative work, though it’s useful as training and practice. Being inspired by someone else’s idea to produce something new and different IS creative work, and it may even revolutionalize the “stolen” concept.”

While this may be something as simple as coincidence, when you have just been caught red handed plagiarizing someone else’s work, it is a little hard to not speculate when it comes to something like this.

Do you think this was an innocent mistake, or a misguided attempt to gain from someone else’s original work? Do you find the similarities in his apology to be a mere coincidence, or someone that just can’t quit while they’re ahead? Sound off in the comments and let us know what you think.

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Tags: Daniel Clowes HowardCantour.com Movies Shia LaBeouf

  • John Mason Cluphf

    I think it’s a true mistake. I’ve found me just being funny, quoting movies or having ideas and being like “oh crap, that’s been done” it’s hard to be 100% original. I can find thousands of articles familiar written if I wanted to also.