Thursday, December 09, 2004

Dude, That Was So Not Me

Fascinated by the report yesterday in the Post that three Texans are suing their sometime acquaintance, the filmmaker Richard Linkletter, who, they say, wrongly appropriated their names and aspects of their high school experience for his pothead classic, Dazed and Confused. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a very smart piece on this problem in the New Yorker recently, discussing a case in which details of a real woman’s life story were, as a court found, wrongly appropriated for a fictional play.

Gladwell observed that what most upset the woman were not the parts of her own story that were put on stage, but the other parts that were not her story. The actual fictional parts, that is, those not taken from her own story. These guys from Texas, too, are upset about things "their" characters do in the movie that they didn’t do in real life.

And yet--as Gladwell observes and many others have remarked in the Texas case--how cool it would be to see your character pilfered a little for a Broadway production or a popular movie. Reminds me of another story. A friend told me about a young author she knew who'd taken up with and then moved in with an older, more established author before writing a novel about a young author who takes up with a more established author and enjoyes some success as a result. My friend's comment to him was that she was really impressed by how he could use his own life to make literature. Oh no, he assured her, the novel was totally fictional.

Denial, you have so many faces.

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