True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto briefly came under fire this week when a blog accused the writer and executive producer of plagiarizing the work of Thomas Ligotti and other authors. The turnaround for a response was speedy.
The claims focus on similarities between quotes delivered on the series by the character Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and passages in Ligotti's novel The Conspiracy Against the Human Race. Both Pizzolatto and HBO issued statements on Thursday flat-out denying the accusations.
"Nothing in the television show True Detective was plagiarized," said Pizzolatto. "The philosophical thoughts expressed by Rust Cohle do not represent any thought or idea unique to any one author; rather these are the philosophical tenets of a pessimistic, anti-natalist philosophy with an historic tradition including Arthur Schopenauer, Friedrich Nietzche, E.M. Cioran, and various other philosophers, all of whom express these ideas. As an autodidact pessimist, Cohle speaks toward that philosophy with erudition and in his own words. The ideas within this philosophy are certainly not exclusive to any writer."
Those who aren't autodidactic pessimists themselves may need to give that a second read, but HBO is much clearer. The network also issued its own statement in defense of its Emmy-nominated showrunner.
True Detective is a work of exceptional originality and the story, plot, characters and dialogue are that of Nic Pizzolatto," reads the statement. "Philosophical concepts are free for anyone to use, including writers of fiction, and there have been many such examples in the past. Exploring and engaging with ideas and themes that philosophers and novelists have wrestled with over time is one of the show's many strengths — we stand by the show, its writing and Nic Pizzolatto entirely."
True Detective has been one of the bigger events to hit HBO in recent years, locking up 12 Emmy nominations and sparking a casting frenzy rarely seen in TV for its not-yet formally announced sophomore run. Pizzolatto has mostly been met with critical acclaim. And as for his detractors, he chalks it up to "stupid criticism."
Such criticism incenses Pizzolatto. Those who hammer the character of Marty's wife, Maggie, played by Michelle Monaghan, for being flimsy are missing the point. If her point of view had been shown and she had remained a lightweight, he acknowledges, then those jibes would have more validity. But the first season, he argues, was conceived as a close point-of-view show, wholly told through the eyes and experiences of the two male characters. "You can either accept that about the show or not, but it's not a phony excuse," he says, unable to hide his frustration. He adds that he consulted his friend Callie Khouri on the matter: "When Callie, who wrote Thelma & Louise, thinks that that's stupid criticism, I'm inclined to take her opinion over someone with a Wi-Fi connection."
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He seems completely unable to take any type of criticism whatsoever. lol.