Friday, 26 July 2013

The Art of Heist

A new issue of Video Watchdog is always a cause for celebration around here, since it first appeared in 1990, the Watchdog has become one of Fantasy Cinema's most important, influential and reliable journals. However, the latest issue #174 has become embroiled in a plagiarism controversy involving one of the Watchdog's irregular contributors Lianne Spiderbaby and her article Emmanuelle & Emanuelle which one might say leans a little heavily on a review of Emanuelle In America written for the Monsters At Play website. Unfortunately, issue 174 was already at the printers before Ms Spiderbaby's antics were discovered. I don't know editor Tim Lucas personally but I do know he's a person of great integrity and I imagine this has been highly distressing for him and the VW team. Tim has posted his thoughts on the matter over at his blog, and will no doubt be discussed in next issue.

Plagiarism is a nasty business of course, not just for the hard working film reviewer but the unsuspecting reader. I remember when way back in the pre-Google days of 1994 when I was beginning to take film culture more seriously, I was an avid reader of the BBC's Radio Times Film and Video Guide, a hefty 1300 page compendium of reviews written by Derek Winnert. I truly loved this book but soon after the release of the 1995 edition, it was reported that the BBC had sacked Winnert as the Radio Times film correspondent after Harper Collins discovered some odd similarities between the Radio Times entries and their own Halliwell's Film Guide. I can honestly say this was a heart breaking moment for me and I now wondered if Winnert had in fact seen Saló or El Topo, two films I was particularly obsessed with at the time and both extremely hard to find (each was awarded a lukewarm ** rating). Winnert could have seen both films but the doubt was forever planted in my mind and I quietly shelved the Radio Times (that's my own dog-eared copy on the left) and soon became a card-carrying, and rather snobbish Time Out Film Guide devotee. Apparently Winnert was caught out when some factual errors reported in the Halliwell guide were replicated in the Radio Times which gives me pause for thought about another well loved film guide (which shall remain nameless) whose review of Aguirre Wrath of God includes the bizarre assertion "Pizarro's men are after the fabled Seven Cities of Gold but Kinski as Done Lope de Aguirre doesn't even appear until the end". A trick of the author's memory or a bit of factually incorrect plagiarism ? Who knows ?

Plagiarism is something that every blogger will reflect on at some stage. As far as I know I've never been plagiarised - I'm not sure if I'm sufficiently well read or well written enough for someone to do such a thing, but I have been bootlegged, if one can call it that. I've seen a few of my Video Nasty reviews appearing on junkyard torrent sites usually accompanied by illicit download links, and my post on the Apocalypse Now Workprint has turned up in various places but luckily most times it's been credited to me and the link-backs to the site bring a few extra visitors in. I've never felt moved to put a copyright notice on these pages, for fear that I might be taking all this blogging stuff a bit too seriously, but y'know, maybe I should...


  1. Many thanks for the kind word Mike, I'm looking forward to checking out Impossibly Funky and The Projection Booth - they both look fantastic.