Monday, January 29, 2007

The Sincerest Form of Flattery?

I'm always loathe to accuse anyone of plagiarism - it's all too easy to come up with a story idea which, coincidentally, turns out to be similar to something somebody has already written. It is also easy to subconsciously come up with something influenced by a story or article you don't consciously remember reading. It is also perfectly permissible to take something somebody else has written as a jumping off point, before going off on your own tangent, or to do something on the same theme, but from a different perspective. Whenever I come across something on another site similar to a story on The Sleaze, I usually put it down to one of these scenarios. However, I'm finding that very hard to do in the case of a story currently to be found on The Spoof, entitled 'Scat Fetish Attacks on the Increase', which seems to me to be an attempt to rip off my own Confessions of a Crap Artist from way back in June 2005.

Basically, it is an attempt to parody the so-called 'Happy Slapping' phenomena (where teenagers filmed assaults using their mobile phones and shared the resulting images with their friends), in terms of acts of defecation being captured on phones. Now, the fact that the author has decided to use the term 'Happy Scatting' rather than the more obvious 'Happy Crapping', strongly implies that they have read my earlier story (which uses this term) and are desperately trying to avoid charges of plagiarism. The fact that they choose to concentrate on the idea of people simply being attacked with someone else's shit rather than explore the whole spectrum of extreme crapping activities (as I did), also suggests a desperate attempt to avoid accusations of ripping off The Sleaze. The trouble is that, as written, the descriptions of this 'Happy Scatting' seem to be a straight rip-off of a sequence on Charlie Brooker's Screen Wipe New Year special, shown on BBC4 on New Year's Eve.

Now, whilst imitation is supposedly the sincerest form of flattery, I don't feel very flattered. This is mainly because the story concerned isn't even a very good rip-off of Confessions of a Crap Artist. Indeed, in common with a lot of what passes for satire on the web these days, it's barely a story. Perfunctory would be too kind a word to describe it. Look guys, if you're gonna rip me off, at least have the courtesy to do it well. But even better, try coming up with some ideas of your own or, at the very least try and find a new angle on my ideas - don't try and disguise the rip off by purloining yet another writer's ideas!



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