Seeing as this issue is going around everywhere now, it looks like I need to formally address it.
I was contacted by the wonderful Cal from Genius a few days ago. He asked me if I had given permission for my work to be used in Frank Ocean's recent screenplay that he wrote "based upon his own childhood/life". I told Cal that no, I had not given permission. In all honesty, before Cal contacted me, I didn't even know who Frank Ocean is. I am not saying anything bad about the artist or his work, but it is a fact and a part of reality that I simply did not know who he was. He is probably a great artist who produces great stuff. But I just didn't know him.
I explained to Cal how I feel about discovering my work was plagiarised. We had a pleasant discussion about it. He said that he would contact Frank Ocean's people and that they would sort things out. Today I have discovered, thanks to French media ActuaLitté, that Frank Ocean and his people have refused to comment on the issue. This is what surprises me. I was really just expecting this whole thing to be a non-issue. I was expecting them/him to simply say something like, "Oh I tried to find who the author is but I couldn't find who it is", then they would update the article with credit due to me, announce that there was a mistake, and that would be the end of the whole story! So, as you can imagine, I am terribly surprised to find out from French media that this had taken a dramatic turn with Ocean's refusal to simply comment or simply say something nice! See, Frank Ocean is making this into a dramatic issue by not saying anything about it, when in reality, it would be very easy to just say something kind and then correct the mishap by giving credit to me and issuing an apology for the mistake.
I was definitely plagiarised, because it was just a simple copy-and-paste; word-for-word. It was not even modified. It was just a copy-and-paste. Like from Goodreads perhaps. I usually give people the benefit of the doubt, and up until I learned that they have refused to comment, I thought they would just say they found it somewhere and couldn't find the author. Well, at least they are being honest?? Silence means "I won't lie no more"??
You can read the screenplay here.
You can read the follow-up article that Genius did on the issue of plagiarism in the screenplay here.
The plagiarised words are these words: The only problem with her is that she is too perfect. She is bad in a way that entices, and good in a way that comforts. She is mischief but then she is the warmth of home.The dreams of the wild and dangerous but the memories of childhood and gladness. She is perfection. And when given something perfect, it is the nature of man to dedicate his mind to finding something wrong with it and then when he is able to find something wrong with it, he rejoices in his find, and sees only the flaw, becoming blind to everything else! And this is why man is never given anything that is perfect, because when given the imperfect and the ugly, man will dedicate his mind to finding what is good with the imperfect and upon finding one good thing with the extremely flawed, he will only see the one good thing, and no longer see everything else that is ugly. And so...man complains to God for having less than what he wants...but this is the only thing that man can handle. Man cannot handle what is perfect. It is the nature. It is the nature of the mortal to rejoice over the one thing that he can proudly say that he found on his own, with no help from another, whether it be a shadow in a perfect diamond, or a faint beautiful reflection in an extremely dull mirror.
My words can be found here.
They can also be found here.
My words can also be found within my pages of my book Vade Mecum.
I just want to thank French media for picking up on this story and for bringing it to my attention. I also thank Cal for being so mindful and thoughtful and conscientious, enough to take the time to contact me and to really care about the matter.
When I am inspired by someone, I tell them. And I tell others. In fact, I was recently inspired by my cousin's wife. She wears cool outfits. Before I even started wearing the outfits, I told her how much her style inspired me. Then I tagged her on Facebook and told our friends. This is a mundane example of how paying it forward isn't just about doing good deeds for others to see; but how paying it forward is about keeping the ball rolling. When others inspire you, try to inspire them, too. When you take, you also need to give back to where you have taken from. And that can really help make our world a better place.