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View Full Version : If one more writer complains about Avatar stealing their idea, I'll scream!



Brutal Mustang
05-20-2010, 06:08 AM
This (http://www.comcast.net/entertainment/reelnews/7036/lawsuitclaimscameronstoleavatar/) article isn't the first time I've heard an unpublished writer whine James Cameron stole their 'incredibly unique' idea. Seriously, in every ten writers I talk to lately, there is a moron who claims either of the following:



"I thought up that story in my mind when I was a kid. James Cameron must have stolen my idea through telepathy."
"I wrote that book when I was a teenager, and trunked it! I don't know how he stole it!"


Oh, and then there is another group of people saying:



"Avatar is copying Fern Gully."
"Avatar is copying Dances with Wolves."
"Avatar is copying Pocahontas."

So? It's a classic story, which has been over-told in many ways. A lot of movies do this. Why is Avatar any different?

Sheesh. I swear this film is drawing the loonies from the asylums!

Cyia
05-20-2010, 06:14 AM
Sheesh. I wrote this story a dozen times. Only they weren't blue. Not on another planet. No psychic trees. No pterodactyl warriors. They weren't in fake bodies. There's no home tree.

But it's totally there in the base elements.

Is this a class action thing anyone can get in on or what?

/sarcasm.

(actually, I agree with the commenter on the article about The Last Airbender. I was really confused when Avatar came out because I was expecting the other one.)

thothguard51
05-20-2010, 06:15 AM
You know I wrote that script while napping on a late night flight to L.A. and James Cameron was setting in the row behind me. Those must not have been normal head phones he loaned me...

Brutal Mustang
05-20-2010, 06:17 AM
GAH!

Soccer Mom
05-20-2010, 07:06 AM
OT, but I totally can't wait for Last Airbender. And yeah, I was confused at first.

kaitiepaige17
05-20-2010, 07:13 AM
Omg when are people going to realize that NO idea is unique to them? Yeah, I'm sure anyone on this forum could have come up with the concept of Avatar, but it's all about who makes it work FIRST.

I mean, it's the same with book publishing. Agents can reject a QL or manuscript strictly because they see too much of that particular story. And FYI to people, Avatar was beautiful visually, but it wasn't the most unique story idea I'm afraid. The main concept--guy goes to war, falls in love with the enemy, then fights for the "enemy"--has been used several times. The story wasn't unique, it was just changed in ways that made it different.

Margarita Skies
05-20-2010, 07:34 AM
Omg when are people going to realize that NO idea is unique to them? Yeah, I'm sure anyone on this forum could have come up with the concept of Avatar, but it's all about who makes it work FIRST.

I mean, it's the same with book publishing. Agents can reject a QL or manuscript strictly because they see too much of that particular story. And FYI to people, Avatar was beautiful visually, but it wasn't the most unique story idea I'm afraid. The main concept--guy goes to war, falls in love with the enemy, then fights for the "enemy"--has been used several times. The story wasn't unique, it was just changed in ways that made it different.


Quoted For Truth!! :Thumbs:

M.R.J. Le Blanc
05-20-2010, 07:38 AM
I don't know why people would be so insulted, not just because it's an old concept. The only good thing about Avatar was the graphics - the storyline was terrible. I expected better from James Cameron.

kaitiepaige17
05-20-2010, 07:40 AM
Quoted For Truth!! :Thumbs:

It's how I roll. ;)

mscelina
05-20-2010, 07:58 AM
Well, the real truth is that Avatar was stolen from me. I write in 3-D.

damn that copycat anyway...

Shadow_Ferret
05-20-2010, 08:01 AM
I think it was stolen from Harlan Ellison. Or was that Terminator?

PEBKAC
05-20-2010, 08:06 AM
OT, but I totally can't wait for Last Airbender. And yeah, I was confused at first.

I'm with you on this! I love the anime. My kids and I are going to catch this for sure.

shaldna
05-20-2010, 01:03 PM
I think we've all written this story at some point.

So what's that telling ya?

Becky Black
05-20-2010, 01:42 PM
This (http://www.comcast.net/entertainment/reelnews/7036/lawsuitclaimscameronstoleavatar/) article isn't the first time I've heard an unpublished writer whine Jame's Cameron stole their 'incredibly unique' idea. Seriously, in every ten writers I talk to lately, there is a moron who claims either of the following:



"I thought up that story in my mind when I was a kid. Jame's Cameron must have stolen my idea through telepathy."
"I wrote that book when I was a teenager, and trunked it! I don't know how he stole it!"


It's telling that you refer to "when I was a kid" or "a teenager". Looking back now I know that pretty much every idea I came up with when I was a teenager was incredibly derivative and I've now seen them written by other teenagesr a zillion times - just with different names.

I doubt it's deliberate, it's probably just the way our minds work at that age, absorbing so much and starting to understand how stories work. Naturally the first ideas we have fall into familiar patterns that we see over and over in other people's work. It's only later we start to figure out how to put a unique twist on the same classical structures and basic scaffolding that so many stories are built on.

Dawnstorm
05-20-2010, 01:44 PM
"Avatar is copying Dances with Wolves."

You know, my favourite characterisation to date was:

"Dances with Smurfs" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dances_with_Smurfs)

Ugawa
05-20-2010, 02:21 PM
[/LIST]
You know, my favourite characterisation to date was:

"Dances with Smurfs" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dances_with_Smurfs)


Damn. I was gonna mention that.

That was my idea, you stole it from me!

x

Cyia
05-20-2010, 02:38 PM
I don't really see any difference in the "OMG, I wrote that first!" claims surrounding Avatar than those that come with any (ultra) successful franchise. It's happened in movies before with the Matrix among others. It's happened in books with Harry Potter and Twilight among others.

The more popular something is, the more people will want a piece of it. And if they've worked on something even remotely similar, I think there's a bit of fear involved that the success of the one will diminish the marketability of the other because it will be seen as an impostor. Trying to get it on record that "author XXX" had "idea XXX" at the same or before the person who published/produced "book/movie XXX" is about vindication as much as it is monetary compensation.

Go take a look at the thread about WIP's published by someone else. It happens all the time. Two I can think of from writers here (that were mentioned way back when I first joined) were someone who wrote a kid's book staring a heroic ogre only to have Shrek hit theaters and someone who wrote a book about a bespeckled orphan wizard in training with a protective scar on his head only to have HP hit shelves.

People are exposed to common ideas, that will inevitably send their thoughts in common directions every once in a while.

If someone seriously thought they had the means to prove they'd written a billion dollar movie, and that it had been stolen in a significant enough way that it could be proven, they wouldn't just be asking $75,000. That's pocket change by comparison.

Brutal Mustang
05-20-2010, 03:23 PM
I don't really see any difference in the "OMG, I wrote that first!" claims surrounding Avatar than those that come with any (ultra) successful franchise. It's happened in movies before with the Matrix among others. It's happened in books with Harry Potter and Twilight among others.

Oh it's always happened with other films. But Avatar trumps them all, at least in my experience--I chat with so damp many people who say their idea was stolen, and that they are REALLY upset about it and ... that they think there was some honest-to-goodness sci fi/supernatural technique Cameron used to steal it from them!

shaldna
05-20-2010, 03:47 PM
Oh it's always happened with other films. But Avatar trumps them all, at least in my experience--I chat with so damp many people who say their idea was stolen, and that they are REALLY upset about it and ... that they think there was some honest-to-goodness sci fi/supernatural technique Cameron used to steal it from them!


and I bet those same people think Elvis is dead.

Celia Cyanide
05-20-2010, 06:09 PM
[/LIST]You know, my favourite characterisation to date was:

"Dances with Smurfs" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dances_with_Smurfs)


hahahaha! I love that episode! I also think it's really funny because I have often heard people complain that "Avatar is not original," followed my, "my friend calls Avatar Dances With Smurfs!" like they're the first one that thought of it!

DeleyanLee
05-20-2010, 06:23 PM
If someone seriously thought they had the means to prove they'd written a billion dollar movie, and that it had been stolen in a significant enough way that it could be proven, they wouldn't just be asking $75,000. That's pocket change by comparison.

I knew a guy who had such a claim--and a legit one. He created and published RPGs and actually got a tape of the writers of the blockbuster movie saying that they out-and-out napped the core idea from one of his games during an interview.

It never hit the media because once his lawyer touched base with the (IIRC) 114 points of similarity between the movie and the game, the company was MORE than happy to settle out of court for a substantial 7 figure deal.

Last I checked, he was still getting an on-screen nod on the sequels and the various TV series spawned by it, as well as a small creator's cut.

If you've really got the goods, it's really sweet. Thing is, without so many points of similiarity with an already copyrighted (his was over a decade over than the movie) work, there's not a case.

Phaeal
05-20-2010, 06:30 PM
So? It's a classic story, which has been over-told in many ways.

Over-told. That's an interesting, and telling, neologism in this context.

EmpoweredOKC
05-20-2010, 06:53 PM
(I actually do think it ripped off Pocahontas. Right down to some of the same camera shots.)

DeleyanLee
05-20-2010, 06:57 PM
(Yeah, but it was better than Pocahontas, so I'm good with that. ;) )

Dungeon Geek
05-20-2010, 07:15 PM
I know writers who seem totally delusional about who steals their ideas. If something is even remotely similar, it was stolen from them. "Avatar had a soldier on a jungle planet in it. My short story on a critique website 10 years ago had a soldier on a jungle planet in it! I've been robbed!"

Jamesaritchie
05-20-2010, 07:53 PM
If Abvatar had been my idea, I wouldn't admit it. Wonderful speciual effects, but I haven't seen a movie that cliched, or that predictable, in twenty years.

Southern Girl
05-20-2010, 08:00 PM
If Abvatar had been my idea, I wouldn't admit it. Wonderful speciual effects, but I haven't seen a movie that cliched, or that predictable, in twenty years.

This.

Phaeal
05-20-2010, 08:07 PM
Hey, the movie is about the special effects. The plot was just something to hang them on. Not the first time this has happened in film. In fact, it happens several times each summer, from my perspective.

SPMiller
05-20-2010, 08:19 PM
Actually, Cameron has been known to "borrow" ideas. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

benbradley
05-20-2010, 09:33 PM
I haven't seen Avatar, but around 1975 I wrote a really crude story that was stolen and made into the movie Tron.

cllorentson
05-20-2010, 09:38 PM
Go take a look at the thread about WIP's published by someone else. It happens all the time. Two I can think of from writers here (that were mentioned way back when I first joined) were someone who wrote a kid's book staring a heroic ogre only to have Shrek hit theaters and someone who wrote a book about a bespeckled orphan wizard in training with a protective scar on his head only to have HP hit shelves.


The movie "Shrek" was actually based on William Stieg's children's book "Shrek!" written in 1990.

Interestingly, Jane Yolen made a comment once on the Surlalune message board, and also in an interview, that J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series appeared to borrow heavily from one of her own stories...so much so that one of Yolen's students thought Yolen had stolen the idea from Rowling, before discovering that Yolen's story was published eight years prior to the Harry Potter series.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Yolen

Hallen
05-20-2010, 10:20 PM
If Abvatar had been my idea, I wouldn't admit it. Wonderful speciual effects, but I haven't seen a movie that cliched, or that predictable, in twenty years.
QFT

The story was so bad that it completely ruined the awesome CGI effects for me. I love massive CGI sci-fi movies, but Avatar was horrible.

I also don't mind tried and true tropes like Star Wars was. As long as you make real characters and try to be creative in development of the conflicts, it's all good. Cameron made no effort to do that. Avatar was the standard Hollywood bull with the thin bad guys with almost no real motivation and plot holes big enough to drive a planet through. The sad thing was it could have been really good with just marginal effort.

The avatar idea itself was cool and could be the basis for lots of cool stories. I'm sure that's the part that people claim was their idea that was stolen.

MartinD
05-21-2010, 04:18 AM
Really? I thought the story was the least interesting part of the movie. The people I work with loved the movie while I thought it was an old-fashioned snooze.

Matera the Mad
05-21-2010, 06:47 AM
what story? Avatar had a story?

oh.

Brutal Mustang
05-21-2010, 07:51 AM
I know writers who seem totally delusional about who steals their ideas. If something is even remotely similar, it was stolen from them. "Avatar had a soldier on a jungle planet in it. My short story on a critique website 10 years ago had a soldier on a jungle planet in it! I've been robbed!"

Exactly!

dgiharris
05-21-2010, 10:00 AM
This (http://www.comcast.net/entertainment/reelnews/7036/lawsuitclaimscameronstoleavatar/) article isn't the first time I've heard an unpublished writer whine Jame's Cameron stole their 'incredibly unique' idea. Seriously, in every ten writers I talk to lately, there is a moron who claims either of the following:



"I thought up that story in my mind when I was a kid. Jame's Cameron must have stolen my idea through telepathy."
"I wrote that book when I was a teenager, and trunked it! I don't know how he stole it!"



You know, what is the end game with morons who file these suits? They never ever ever win them. And it's not like Cameron is going to settle.

IN fact, if I were James Cameron, i'd let a 9 yr old represent me as my lawyer. Our main defense would consist primarily of my lawyer laughing and calling the plantiff an idiot.

Then, after the lawsuit and our inevitable successful win, I would sue this asshat for slander or libel or something. Then, i'd take the money we'd win from that lawsuit, go to the crackpot author's house, set up a little fire pit on the sidewalk, and light his money on fire.

Mel...

Miss Plum
05-21-2010, 11:40 AM
Is this a class action thing anyone can get in on or what?

lol

Gary Clarke
05-21-2010, 01:21 PM
I'm bummed because my jungle-planet-dwelling aliens were actually even blue (http://tinycoward.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d1e5et2)! ( though small and furry)

Zoombie
05-21-2010, 03:48 PM
Actually, Cameron has been known to "borrow" ideas. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I've robbed more than a few stories at gunpoint myself.

seun
05-21-2010, 04:56 PM
If Avatar had been my idea, I wouldn't admit it. Wonderful speciual effects, but I haven't seen a movie that cliched, or that predictable, in twenty years.

I was just about to say pretty much the same thing coupled with Cameron hasn't made a great film since The Abyss.

CaroGirl
05-21-2010, 05:11 PM
I was just about to say pretty much the same thing coupled with Cameron hasn't made a great film since The Abyss.
True Lies was funtastic and Titanic was a ground-breaking fortune-maker. I guess it depends on one's definition of "great."

cllorentson
05-21-2010, 06:56 PM
You know, what is the end game with morons who file these suits? They never ever ever win them. And it's not like Cameron is going to settle.



Honestly, the only real reason for her to pursue this suit is to get attention for her book. That's why she's not suing for much, it's all about publicity. No one knew who she was before this, and her book wasn't even published, from what I understand. Regardless of how the court case turns out, she gets publicity for her book that she wouldn't have received, otherwise.

After the court case, there will be people clamoring to read her book, out of curiosity, if nothing else. So even if she loses, she wins.

BenPanced
05-21-2010, 07:18 PM
Actually, it could blow up in her face. People might see her as a "jelose looser" picking on Cameron for cheap fame and not want to read her book.

Hallen
05-21-2010, 07:25 PM
Really? I thought the story was the least interesting part of the movie. The people I work with loved the movie while I thought it was an old-fashioned snooze.

Are you referring to what I said about the avatar concept? That wasn't the story, that was a plot point. The story itself was only interesting from the standpoint of how bad it was.

cllorentson
05-21-2010, 07:27 PM
Actually, it could blow up in her face. People might see her as a "jelose looser" picking on Cameron for cheap fame and not want to read her book.

But as they say, "Bad publicity is better than no publicity." She's probably figuring that this is her shot at 15 minutes of fame, and without it, she'd have no fame at all.

Some people are willing to sacrifice their pride and dignity for that shot of fame. Just look at reality television.

DeleyanLee
05-21-2010, 07:37 PM
Or Jerry Springer and like shows.

KTC
05-21-2010, 07:43 PM
I haven't seen Avatar, but around 1975 I wrote a really crude story that was stolen and made into the movie Tron.


Well, thank you for Tron!

They're remaking it too!

BenPanced
05-21-2010, 07:44 PM
Sequel. It's a sequel.

KTC
05-21-2010, 07:53 PM
Sequel. It's a sequel.

oh crap. i get everything wrong. well, woot anyway.

Witch_turtle
05-21-2010, 08:22 PM
Avatar/Pochahontas trailer mashup if anyone's interested. . . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_fZ98xSaBA

Someone showed me this a while ago. I don't know whether to be sad or just amused!

:rolleyes

Kitty27
05-21-2010, 09:00 PM
I cannot take another person going on about the deep themes in Avatar.

Sheeshus Krist! Avatar is blue cat critters vs. greedy humans with some interspecies wuv action and things blowing up. Also,it looks really pretty.

That.is.all.

SirOtter
05-21-2010, 09:29 PM
and I bet those same people think Elvis is dead.

Elvis is not dead. He just went home.

Zoombie
05-22-2010, 01:14 PM
Sheeshus Krist! Avatar is blue cat critters vs. greedy humans with some interspecies wuv action and things blowing up. Also,it looks really pretty.
.

Heck, I'm all down with that.

Though, I'm actually more impressed with Avatar's technology. Am I the only one thinking that kind of CGI could be used to make some really awesome movies?

Like...say...a Mass Effect movie. Wink wink. Nudge nudge.

Stormhawk
05-22-2010, 02:05 PM
Like...say...a Mass Effect movie. Wink wink. Nudge nudge.

I would pay money to watch the Elcor version of Hamlet. :D

DrZoidberg
05-22-2010, 02:13 PM
Peyo should have a big check coming.

http://www.amazon.com/Smurfette-Peyo/dp/0340233974/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274523109&sr=1-2

Neyteri is a total rip off of the Smurfette. And whoever wrote the Vedantas, was so much before Cameron with "blue movies". Krishna and all that.

NoGuessing
05-22-2010, 03:23 PM
Watched Avatar for the first time last night.

Was a good popcorn flick.

Brutal Mustang
05-22-2010, 09:01 PM
I was just thinking. Isn't it funny how when yet another Cinderella story comes out on film, no one screams anything about copying, and so many of us eagerly sit down to watch another rendition of that classic storyline?

Matera the Mad
05-23-2010, 12:02 AM
I'm still ROFL about how Marion Zimmer Bradley picked some story ideas out of my mind over thirty years ago. I let the beyotch have them. I figure I could use them now anyhow if I could remember what they were :roll:

Dawnstorm
05-23-2010, 09:51 AM
And whoever wrote the Vedantas, was so much before Cameron with "blue movies". Krishna and all that.

Oh, I did wonder where he got the word "Avatar" from...

SirOtter
05-23-2010, 11:07 AM
I was just thinking. Isn't it funny how when yet another Cinderella story comes out on film, no one screams anything about copying, and so many of us eagerly sit down to watch another rendition of that classic storyline?

Charles Perrault isn't around to complain. Neither is Pierre Culliford, for that matter. (Go on, Google him. I'll wait.)

.............................

I think the issue is that Cinderella can be written so as to make sense and not leave humungous plot holes all over the place. I'm not sure William Faulkner could fix Avatar's plot. Not that the plot is the reason for seeing the film. It's a feast for the eyes, but a famine for the brain, as a critic once said of Kubrick's Barry Lyndon.

NoGuessing
05-23-2010, 12:38 PM
Dude, Avatar stole my idea.

Kyra Wright
05-23-2010, 04:31 PM
I don't really see any difference in the "OMG, I wrote that first!" claims surrounding Avatar than those that come with any (ultra) successful franchise. It's happened in movies before with the Matrix among others. It's happened in books with Harry Potter and Twilight among others.
But Quentin Tarantino really did steal my “female assassin out for revenge on her former boss” story when he made Kill Bill! ;)

Well, I was writing my story when the first Kill Bill movie was released, and unfortunately it made me lose my drive for my own work, so I dropped it for a few years. One of my friends had the same thing happen when a novel she was working on had the same plot as a popular science fiction novel that was released at the time. Both of us have gone back to try to finish our original works, and we now joke about it. I really can’t understand people who truly believe that someone they’ve never met, nor even have the vaguest connection to, could steal their story.

Brutal Mustang
05-23-2010, 06:43 PM
Neither is Pierre Culliford, for that matter. (Go on, Google him. I'll wait.)


Is blue-ness the only reason people think Avatar is similar to Smurfs? I don't know, because I haven't watched Smurfs since I was three. If blueness is the only reason, it's ridiculously vague. There are only so many colors you can make an alien race.

I actually went into Avatar fully prepared to hate it, and despite it's preachy anti-capitalism message, enjoyed it ... which is saying a lot, since I'm libertarian in many ways. I loved watching the MC go from being a cripple in a wheelchair whom the other solders scoffed at, to becoming a feared Navi warrior (a Cinderella story in itself?). I loved how Neytiri expressed herself with growls and hisses--what a gal! Or the way she cried over her dead ikran, reminding the viewer the bond between beast of burden and master is not equal to that of a car and driver. But most of all, I loved all the little details! The plants. The sky. The Navi. A number of the characters. Yeah, there were plot holes. But I suspended my disbelief, and watched it as though I'd never seen that story a day in my life.

LOG
05-23-2010, 10:36 PM
Heck, I'm all down with that.

Though, I'm actually more impressed with Avatar's technology. Am I the only one thinking that kind of CGI could be used to make some really awesome movies?

Like...say...a Mass Effect movie. Wink wink. Nudge nudge.

Would need to be a TV series. A short one perhaps, but still would require something more than a film or a mini-series.

LordMoogi
05-24-2010, 07:58 PM
I cannot take another person going on about the deep themes in Avatar.

Sheeshus Krist! Avatar is blue cat critters vs. greedy humans with some interspecies wuv action and things blowing up. Also,it looks really pretty.

That.is.all.

Blue cat critters vs. greedy humans with some interspecies wuv action and things blowing up can have deep themes, y'know. Now, just because it can doesn't mean it does.

But in all seriousness, themes really are an eye of the beholder thing. If I say a story has deep themes, then that story does. At least as far as I'm concerned. If you don't think so, then it doesn't for you. There is no all-knowing authority on this sort of thing. If one person finds meaning in something you find to be pointless, then you cannot change their mind on this matter. As long as the story means something to someone, then it is thematically sound.

Just my two cents.

IDGS
05-24-2010, 10:39 PM
AVATAR, while an entertaining view, is a social commentary on Native Land Rights in North America by James Cameron.

Hell, the spaceship they travelled to Pandora on might as well have been named the Nina, the Pinta, or the Santa Maria.

It's a cool idea, but the demonization of 'white Europeans' seeking to pillage a non-white, in this case non-human peaceful civilization's assests is nothing new.

If James Cameron stole it from you, you've been robbed before you were born many times before.

Mara
05-25-2010, 05:34 AM
Avatar was totally a rip-off of The Sun Also Rises. The main character of Avatar is clearly the bullfighter with a few minor changes.

:)