The latest film writer to be caught stealing others’ work is Liane “Spiderbaby” MacDougall, or, as mainstream news outlets have taken to calling her, “Quentin Tarantino’s girlfriend.” The news started to circulate over the weekend that MacDougall had lifted from several writers in pieces on her own website and at Fearnet. (The offending pieces have been removed, and any trace of MacDougall’s existence has been scrubbed from Fearnet’s site.) Defamer has a detailed timeline of how MacDougall backtracked, apologized, and then went underground, disabling her website and deleting her Twitter account.
It’s a classic tale of a rising star lifting from less high-profile writers, too busy with Oscar parties and book deals to perform the lowly act of criticism. As Flick Filosopher’s MaryAnn Johanson points out, MacDougall barely took pains to conceal her theft, leaving stray punctuation marks and unresolved clauses grafted from the original review unaltered; she couldn’t even be bothered to steal well. (Johanson’s essay on the subject is currently 404ing at Bleeding Cool. Johanson says she’s “trying to find out WTF”; still no response from Bleeding Cool. The cached version is here.)
Update: Video Watchdog, whose editor Tim Lucas initially came to MacDougall’s defense, has posted a statement by Associate Editor John Charles outlining similarities between her piece on Emmanuel in America in the magazine’s forthcoming (and already printed) issue and a review of the film by Lawrence P. Raffel on Monsters at Play. And in a comment on this article, Oregonian critic Shawn Levy pointed to evidence that portions of MacDougall’s Video Watchdog article on Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In were lifted from his review and from Steven Jay Schneider’s summary of Laura Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Although she publicly admitted plagiarizing others’ work on her Twitter account — before deleting it — she privately assured Lucas via email that “The Emmanuelle piece and the Skin piece I wrote for you is entirely my work. It’s my writing.” In the Facebook comments on the magazine’s statement, Lucas calls it “a personal betrayal as well as a professional one.”
Not surprisingly, the writers MacDougall lifted from are outraged, but I came across an interesting reaction from Obnoxious and Anonymous’ Cameron Cloutier, posted in the form of a YouTube video. His response, which is worth watching in full, is less angry than it’s disappointed, concerned with the damage Spiderbaby’s fraud might inflict on the horror community as a whole. “There’s not a lot of women in the horror community,” Cloutier points out. When someone “beautiful and talented” rises to the top, “you get really proud for them,” and when that pride turns out to be misplaced, “it breaks your heart.”