Monday, May 05, 2008

Did The New Yorker Steal from the AV Club?

Here is how Scott Tobias's AV Club's review of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (reviewed May 24th, 2007) begins:

The Marx brothers classic Duck Soup contains a bit that applies nicely to the bellicose Pirates Of The Caribbean trilogy, which reaches its conclusion with the nearly three-hour At World's End. When presented with a treasury report, Groucho's Rufus T. Firefly, the newly appointed President of Freedonia, declares it so simple that even a 4-year-old child could understand it. "Now run out and find me a 4-year-old child," he says. "I can't make head or tail of it." As a consequence of trying to turn a theme-park ride into a 463-minute trilogy, the Pirates movies are freighted by so much convoluted mythology and supernatural hoo-hah that perhaps only the very young can understand their dream logic.

The New Yorker's review of Speed Racer this week, by Anthony Lane, begins

Gluttons for "Duck Soup" will remember the scene in which Groucho is faced with an official document. "Why, a four-year-old child could understand this report," he says. "Run out and find me a four-year-old child." My sentiments exactly, as I sat in a cathedral-size auditorium, wreathed in the ineffable mysteries of "Speed Racer."

It could be they came upon the same joke. I have done that before, and it bothers me that it always looks like plagiarism. Just this week I reiterated in a LOST review a point Stefan Delatovic made in the comments of the LOST review from the PREVIOUS WEEK -- so maybe Lane read Tobias's review a year ago and forgot about it, then unconsciously used the same gag. I have no such excuse since only a week passed, but you see my point. Sorry Stefan. Or maybe Lane and Tobias both saw it somewhere else, and both borrowed it.

Or Lane just STOLE from the AVClub. I really feel like the AV Club is doing well if they are being ripped of by the venerable weekly magazine.

7 comments:

Streebo said...

Perhaps it's just a creative meme. Happens to me all the time.

Stefan Delatovic said...

No harm done good sir.

I am honoured to have lodged within your subconscious.

Scene -- said...

interesting either way. did you connect the dots yourself or is this something people are talking about?

Jason said...

I don't know, it's such a popular quote among film buffs and critics. I know I heard/read that line several times in various contexts before I even knew that it was a Groucho line, much less from which Marx Bros. movie in particular. Heck, I was probably a 4-year-old child myself the first time I heard it.

Scott Tobias is great, though. He's definitely my favorite film critic, so anyone else could do much worse than pinch an idea or two from him.

On the other hand, I also love "POTC: At World's End." Oh, the cognitive dissonance!

Not Ultros said...

Anthony Lane is one of the great all-time masters of snark. His review of THE DA VINCI CODE should be taught in schools:

http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/05/29/060529crci_cinema

He also comes off much better in his reviews than Dale Peck. The ubiquity of the quote makes thievery seem unlikely.

(Should he have quoted Tobias' quoting Groucho?).

Geoff Klock said...

scene -- people may be talking about this elsewhere, but I noticed it for myself.

Stephen said...

people may be talking about this elsewhere, but I noticed it for myself

...Which just goes to further prove the point I clicked through the comments to make: that simultaneous cultural creation is a lot more common than people suspect. There are good moves in memespace, and so people simultaneously recreate them: convergent evolution, so to speak.

That'd be my default assumption anyway, barring other evidence.