Daily Archives: June 13, 2017

Bob Dylan Accused of Plagiarizing Nobel Lecture From SparkNotes

Bob Dylan may have plagiarized portions of his Nobel Prize lecture from SparkNotes, an online version of CliffsNotes, according to a new piece from Andrea Pitzer on Slate. Pitzer uncovered the similarities between the SparkNotes entry on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick – one of three books Dylan discussed in his lecture – after writer Ben Greenman noted that Dylan might have made up a quote from Moby-Dick.

Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature last October, though he declined to attend the December ceremony. On June 4th, he delivered a lecture to the Swedish Academy in Los Angeles, fulfilling all the requisites to receive the $900,000 award that accompanies the Nobel Prize. Along with Moby-Dick, Dylan discussed the influence of Homer’s Odyssey and Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front. 

As Greenman first pointed out on his website, Dylan seemingly invented a moment in Moby-Dick when a “Quaker pacifist priest” tells Captain Ahab’s third mate, Flask, “Some men who receive injuries are led to God, others are led to bitterness.” While Greenman was unable to find the relevant quote in several editions of Moby-Dick, Pitzer discovered that SparkNotes described the preacher as “someone whose trials have led him toward God rather than bitterness.”

In all, Pitzer said she found at least 20 sentences in Dylan’s lecture that resembled the SparkNotes entry on Moby-Dick. Representatives for Dylan, the Nobel Prize committee and SparkNotes did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

In collecting the instances where Dylan seemed to crib from SparkNotes, Pitzer noted where certain key phrases appeared on the site but not in the book. For instance, Dylan says of Captain Ahab, “He calls Moby the emperor, sees him as the embodiment of evil.” While “embodiment of evil” never appears in Melville’s novel, SparkNotes says of Ahab, “he sees the whale as the embodiment of evil.”

A handful of especially glaring similarities Pitzer uncovered are below, while a full breakdown is available on Slate.

Dylan: “Finally, Ahab spots Moby … Boats are lowered … Moby attacks Ahab’s boat and destroys it. Next day, he sights Moby again. Boats are lowered again. Moby attacks Ahab’s boat again.”
SparkNotes: “Ahab finally sights Moby Dick. The harpoon boats are launched, and Moby Dick attacks Ahab’s harpoon boat, destroying it. The next day, Moby Dick is sighted again, and the boats are lowered once more … Moby Dick again attacks Ahab’s boat.”

Dylan: “Tashtego says that he died and was reborn. His extra days are a gift. He wasn’t saved by Christ, though, he says he was saved by a fellow man and a non-Christian at that. He parodies the resurrection.”
SparkNotes: “Tashtego … has died and been reborn, and any extra days of his life are a gift. His rebirth also parodies religious images of resurrection. Tashtego is ‘delivered’ from death not by Christ but by a fellow man – a non-Christian at that.”

Dylan: Another ship’s captain – Captain Boomer – he lost an arm to Moby. But he tolerates that, and he’s happy to have survived. He can’t accept Ahab’s lust for vengeance.
SparkNotes: “…a whaling ship whose skipper, Captain Boomer, has lost an arm in an encounter with Moby Dick …. Boomer, happy simply to have survived his encounter, cannot understand Ahab’s lust for vengeance.”

As Pitzer points out, Dylan’s Nobel lecture does not mark the first time he’s been accused of plagiarism. He’s long borrowed lyrics from other sources, with his 2001 album Love and Theft drawing criticism for lyrics seemingly culled from Junichi Saga’s book Confessions of a Yakuza and Henry Timrod’s Civil War poetry. Even Dylan’s paintings from his 2011 exhibit, “The Asia Series,” came under fire for their similarities to well-known photographs taken by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Léon Busy.

In a 2012 interview with Rolling Stone, Dylan responded to the accusations of plagiarism pertaining to Love and Theft. “I’m working within my art form,” he said. “It’s that simple. I work within the rules and limitations of it. There are authoritarian figures that can explain that kind of art form better to you than I can. It’s called songwriting. It has to do with melody and rhythm, and then after that, anything goes. You make everything yours. We all do it.”

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Tinashe Slams Sexism, Colorism in Music Industry

Even though the music space is crammed, as ever, with multi-genre stars and burgeoning talents, Tinashe said in a recent interview that she believes there should be room enough for everyone.

“Recently, my cousin was with a friend of a friend, who was in high school, and she was like: ‘I’m a fan of Kehlani,’ but in a way that was like, ‘So I can’t be a fan of Tinashe, too,'” Tinashe said in an interview with the UK’s Guardian. “Then my friend posed the question, ‘Why not be a fan of both?’ It’s kind of like sport; people feel like they have to pick a side. There are hundreds of [male] rappers that all look the same, that sound the same, but if you’re a black woman, you’re either Beyoncé or Rihanna. It’s very, very strange.”

Tinashe, who was born to Zimbabwean-immigrant father Michael and Danish mother Aimie, added that part of the problem is that there is an inherent assumption that black female artists are all the same.

“Ciara’s an amazing artist, Beyoncé’s an amazing artist, Rihanna’s an amazing artist, and they’re all very different!” she said.

The singer, who is perhaps best known for her 2014 hit “2 On,” said that her own unique background, which made it difficult for her to fit in growing up, also makes it hard for her to find a foothold in the industry now.

“There’s colorism involved in the black community, which is very apparent,” she said. “It’s about trying to find a balance where I’m a mixed woman, and sometimes I feel like I don’t fully fit into the black community; they don’t fully accept me, even though I see myself as a black woman. That disconnect is confusing sometimes … I am what I am.”

While Tinashe’s much-anticipated follow-up to 2014’s Aquarius, Joyride, still does not have a release date – despite the buzzed-about recent single “Flame” – the songstress has been keeping busy via multiple collaborations with Tinie Tempah, KDA and Enrique Iglesias, among others

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Flashback: A Kiss Song Unites Mankind In Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey

Throughout both Bill and Ted movies, the titular teenage metalheads are presented as little more than dim slackers barely able to play their instruments, even though we learn they’ll one day make music so righteous that it will put an end to famine and war, uniting the planet and ushering in a new utopia for mankind. We never hear a note of this actual music until the very end of 1991’s Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey – when our heroes return from “16 months of intensive guitar training” to finally play one of these magical songs we’ve heard so much about.

They then break out Kiss’ cover of Argent’s 1973 tune “God Gave Rock and Roll To You” with a new guitar solo by Steve Vai. Kiss modified the lyrics to the point where they felt compelled to change the title to “God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You II,” but the message of rock music as a unifying force remains. It was the most attention a new Kiss song had gotten in quite some time, but it came at a very dark time for the band. Drummer Eric Carr was deathly ill from heart cancer when they recorded it, and was only able to contribute backing vocals. He plays drums in the video (which you can watch here), but passed away at age 41 just a few months later. It’s one of the few post-makeup songs that Kiss play in their live show today, and one of the only Kiss songs featuring both Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley on lead vocals.

The big performance in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey seemed to wrap up the movie series quite nicely, but Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter (now an accomplished documentary filmmaker) have been pushing for a third move for years. “Basically, they’re supposed to write a song to save the world and they haven’t done that,” Reeves said last year. “The pressure of having to save the world, their marriages are falling apart, their kids are kind of mad at them, and then someone comes from the future and tells them if they don’t write the song it’s just not the world, it’s the universe. So they have to save the universe because time is breaking apart.”

This comes up in interviews every time Reeves is promoting a new movie, and a third Bill and Ted film always seems to be just a year or so away from going into production, but we’ve been hearing that for a good decade now. It seems like no studio is willing to bankroll this idea, and not without good reason. Sequels from long-dormant franchises have a very dicey history. Look no further than Dumb and Dumber To and Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles if you don’t believe us.

But we think that Bill and Ted 3 will be different. Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey is one of the only comedy sequels in history that live up to the originals. These are iconic characters that paved the way for Wayne and Garth and Beavis and Butt-head. They deserve a conclusion to their trilogy. Hollywood, don’t give us another John Wick movie. Give us Bill and Ted 3. While you’re at it, make sure Death (aka the Grim Reaper) has a large role. He’s the best part of the second one. And when the time comes, maybe have Kiss cover another Argent song, perhaps “Hold Your Head Up” this time. 

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