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Howard Cantour.com stars comedian Jim Gaffigan as an online film critic whose glum voiceover explains to the viewer what his job means to him. "A critic is a warrior," explains Howard. "Most critics will give any movie three and a half stars if it flatters their self-image. I take it much more seriously. Have you ever noticed how most critics usually disagree with the public? That should tell you a lot about critics."
LaBeouf released the link to the short to critic-centric sites, like CriticWire, and there it received some praise for it's thoughtful depiction of critics as people instead of literal monsters. (Read the piece if you're unfamiliar with Willow or Lady of the Water-style revenge against critics.) However fans of Clowes soon surfaced to point out these lines are word for word pulled from his Justin M. Damiano. Even some of the shot choices were ripped from its pages. Yet LaBeouf makes no mention of the graphic novella nor Clowes in his credits, and he never approached Clowes nor his publisher Fantagraphics Books about the short.
We'd love for you to see the similarities between the two for yourself, but since the scandal broke, LaBeouf has put a password lock on the short, and is not responding to Deadline for comment over it. But you can see a key page from the graphic novella at Buzzfeed.
While LaBeouf hasn't commented about pulling the link, he has responded to the claims of plagiarism on Twitter:
Copying isn't particularly creative work. Being inspired by someone else's idea to produce something new and different IS creative work.— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 17, 2013
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
Im embarrassed that I failed to credit @danielclowes for his original graphic novella Justin M. Damiano, which served as my inspiration— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 17, 2013
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.— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 17, 2013
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— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 17, 2013
I fucked up.— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 17, 2013
On this last point, I think we can all agree. Some have said that as a short film, it's not like LaBeouf planned to make money off of the short, so who cares if he ripped off another artist's work to make something just for the sake of making it? The problem with this logic is that this short film has played at film festivals, including the illustrious Cannes Film Festival. Whether or not LaBeouf actually made money on this short, it was made and screened to impact his career. And for better or worse, it and the scandal that now surrounds it, will do just that.
UPDATE: He even plagiarized the above apology down to the capitalization of "IS." This time the source was a Yahoo Answer (via Gawker).
Come on, Shia! This has now officially become a pattern of plagiarism.