Before proceeding with "31 Days of Spielberg" (I'm already a couple days behind schedule but it can wait; this is more important and should be dealt with swiftly and directly), I wanted to take some time and address a rather serious issue that has arisen recently. In case you were unaware of the situation, I have been accused of plagiarism in my writings here on this blog, particularly in my early posts on "Eyes," Columbo and Duel and specifically with regard to a book called Directed by Steven Spielberg: Poetics of the Hollywood Blockbuster by Warren Buckland (you can read the charges on a thread here at spielbergfilms.com where passages in Buckland's book and my blog are compared). Now, as much as I would like to simply deny the claims and say "No, I've never read Buckland's book! I don't know what you're talking about. It's purely a coincidence!" I can't do that. It's not that simple.
In fact, I have read Buckland's book. It was one of many sources I used in my research for this project before the month of August began. I found it to be a very helpful and very insightful text (and can recommend it to anyone interested in analysing the specific filmmaking techniques of Spielberg). I agreed with quite a number of Buckland's observations and consequently found myself adopting some of his conclusions. For the purposes of the blog I wanted to incorporate the ideas which we both shared (along with several ideas which I know arose out of me spontaneously since I take notes on the films as I view them) into the final essays. In the actual process of writing, and as all writers should (they teach you this when you write research papers in Jr. High), I tried to "put it in my own words," but I found Buckland's descriptions of what actually occurred on the screen were quite apt and as I tried to describe the same shots myself, I found it very difficult to not refer to him on more than one occasion. In the end, I probably "leaned" on his writing more than I ought to have (to the point that it became difficult for even me to tell where his ideas ended and mine began). I realize, of course, that copying someone else's phrasing but simply changing a word here and there does not qualify something as an original writing and I can assure you that my intent was not to plagiarize anyone nor to pass off another author's hard work as my own. I merely wanted to write as intelligent, well-informed and well-researched (but still personal) a piece on Spielberg as I could. It may seem like that should be easy to do, but when you're the one sitting in your chair staring at the blank computer screen, it can be quite a daunting task.
In retrospect, I see that my biggest mistake was in not citing Buckland's book specifically or even throwing out a simple acknowledgement in the form of a "My thinking on this subject has been heavily influenced by Warren Buckland" or merely quoting his passages outright (which, incidentally, I do with other writers/critics elsewhere throughout the project and I always try to explicitly mention the source) but attributing them to him. This is really about giving credit where it's due and in that regard, I admit that I failed and I am sorry. I can offer no excuse except to say (and this is not really an excuse, just an explanation) that it was very early on in the project and I hadn't yet found the "rhythm" by which I was operating. I lacked confidence in the approach I had planned to take toward the material. I knew what I wanted to do, but I didn't know how to get there at first. I was not fully comfortable in the writing process, but as the days continued (and with the help of a constant deadline) I found it became much easier to, as I mentioned in the beginning of my entry on Jaws, simply say what I wanted to say and not worry about whether or not it has been said before (and in no doubt more eloquent fashion) by someone else. The hardest part of anything is always getting started; taking that first step. Once you get going, however, the pressure and insecurity seems to ease off significantly.
In an attempt to prove that I am not trying to hide anything from anybody, I wanted to let everyone know that since the plagiarism claims first surfaced I have been corresponding with Warren Buckland (which is in itself a humbling turn of events; I never anticipated this project would bring me into contact with actual published authors who have written on Spielberg, even if it's not under the best of circumstances). We have discussed the matter, I have apologized for any wrongdoing for which I might have been responsible and I have agreed to temporarily remove the three posts in question ("Eyes," Columbo and Duel) and revise them so as to satisfy everyone (hopefully) that they have come from me alone and from nobody else. I will still continue with "31 Days of Spielberg." My commitment to that has not wavered in the slightest. In fact, the writing of the essay on Schindler's List (which immeditately follows this next one on Jurassic Park) is one of the reasons why I undertook this project in the first place since that film has been a hugely significant one in my life.
Finally, I wanted to apologize to my readers. I hope I have not disappointed you or betrayed your trust in any way. Many of you have been very kind and generous with your praise all along and even through this recent turn of events several of you have been very supportive and encouraging and I thank you for that. However, I am not doing--nor have I ever done--this for praise, for esteem, for glory, for fame and certainly not for money. One thing I have never lost sight of is that in the big scheme of things, I am a nobody. I am a thirty-one-year-old video store clerk who lives in Corvallis, Oregon. I make little more than minumim wage a year and I happen to love movies. I never intended for this blog to be anything more than an expression of one little guy's passion and affection for cinema. Thus, I began this "Spielberg" project because I admire Spielberg and his films and I wanted to share that admiration with other people and maybe--just maybe--even spark a little bit of discussion on him because I personally don't think that enough can ever be said about this great artist. I never, ever anticipated this thing would catch on as much as it has (and I am not saying that to relieve me of my responsibilities as a writer) nor did I ever expect to be mentioned in the same sentence as professional, educated authors who have contributed greatly to the conversation about Spielberg. In spite of the way things have turned out, I am still glad that I've been able to participate in the discussion, even if only in a very minor capacity. This has been a learning experience for me too and I can assure you that I am learning a lot from it.
Thank you once again for your kind attention.