It hasn't been the best week for "True Detective" creator Nic Pizzolatto. Besides pissing off critics on Twitter with his comments on the critical backlash of his series, the writer also faced plagiarism accusations.
Earlier this week, Mike Davis of the Lovecraft Ezine interviewed Jon Padgett, founder of Thomas Ligotti Online, highlighting the numerous instances that Pizzolatto has apparently plagiarized American horror author Ligotti's work. Padgett had collected multiple examples of lines from the HBO series' first season, specifically the philosophical musings of Matthew McConaughey's Rust Cohle, that either paraphrased or directly copied words from Ligotti's book "The Conspiracy Against the Human Race." Padgett cited the car scene between Rust and Marty (you know, the one that inspired those amazing memes) as the most plagiarized part of the series, saying that "almost every one of Rust’s infamous lines is either taken word for word or is a paraphrase of Ligotti’s distinctive prose and ideas." Below are some of the examples Padgett pointed out with the plagiarized lines bolded:
COHLE: We became too self-aware. Nature created an aspect of nature separate from itself. We are creatures that should not exist by natural law.
“We know that nature has veered into the supernatural by fabricating a creature that cannot and should not exist by natural law, and yet does.” (CATHR, p.111)
COHLE: The only honorable thing for our species to do is deny our programming, stop reproducing and march hand-in-hand into extinction.
“…the human race will never do the honorable thing and abort itself…” (CATHR, p. 138)
“To end this self-deception… we must cease reproducing.” (CATHR, p. 29)
“And how many would speed up the process of extinction once euthanasia was decriminalized and offered in humane and even enjoyable ways?” (CATHR, p. 29)
However, Pizzolatto and HBO have both since refuted any such allegations. The "True Detective" creator issued a statement saying that nothing in the series was plagiarized and that "the philosophical thoughts expressed by Rust Cohle do not represent any thought or idea unique to any one author." Pizzolatto added that the ideas behind Rust's philosophy "are certainly not exclusive to any writer." The Wire points out however that Pizzolatto has mentioned Ligotti's name in previous interviews and cited his inspiration from the author's work before. Greg Cwik at Criticwire defended Pizzolatto, likening him to Quentin Tarantino and claiming that what he's done isn't plagiarisim or morally wrong.
HBO also issued a statement supporting their Emmy-nominated creator and writer, saying that they "stand by the show, its writing and Nic Pizzolatto entirely." You can read the network's and Pizzolatto's full statements over at The Playlist.
These plagiarism allegations also bring to mind the first time this discussion was sparked back in February when critics citied similarities between "True Detective" and a poet. However, those turned out to be false when Slate discovered that early promos of the HBO series had inspired the poet's writings. Whether or not you view Pizzolatto as a plagiarist, this only goes to show that time is indeed a flat circle.