Stealing The-Lowdown-Nasty-Lianne-Spiderbaby-Plagiarism-Blues By Joe "Woodyanders" Wawrzyniak. When the news initially broke that noted horror writer and journalist Lianne Spiderbaby was a shameless serial plagiarist of other writers’ work which she had not only passed off as her own, but also managed to get paid for and hence make a career out of (she was frequent contributor to such notable genre publications as Fangoria, Video Watchdog, and Famous Monsters of Filmland), I was surprised and startled but not upset, at least not initially...
When the news initially broke that noted horror writer and journalist Lianne Spiderbaby was a shameless serial plagiarist of other writers’ work which she had not only passed off as her own, but also managed to get paid for and hence make a career out of (she was frequent contributor to such notable genre publications as Fangoria, Video Watchdog, and Famous Monsters of Filmland), I was surprised and startled but not upset, at least not initially. That was until someone informed me that Lianne had partially plagiarized my IMDb review of I Dismember Mama (1972) for her "review" of the same movie in her FEARnet.com column. After that, I was fuming mad.
Lianne had sent me a friendship request on Facebook after she found out that I was "Woodyanders" on IMDb. Under the Woodyanders pseudonym I’ve written well over 1,700 mini-bios as well as over 3,000 reviews on IMDb. Lianne wanted to be my friend because I had written mini-bios on IMDb for many of the ’70s drive-in flick starlets she had interviewed for her forthcoming book Grindhouse Girls [which has since been cancelled]. I thought she wanted me as a friend on Facebook because we were kindred spirits in this particular regard. She really made me feel good, buttering me up with all kinds of praise: She told me that she was a huge fan of my writing and even once called me a "hero" for penning all those mini-bios. You can say she won me over with her (seemingly sincere) flattery.
All this turned to be part of her carefully crafted and convincingly rendered deception. From what I have heard from others, Lianne really knew how to turn on the charm and flirt. Plus, it must be said, she was quite attractive, too. Armed with this combination of good looks and beguiling personality, she managed to ingratiate herself with many key members of the horror community in order to acquire the necessary connections to launch her illustrious career as a professional plagiarist (i.e., someone who steals another person’s work, persuasively passes it off as their own, and makes enough money to keeps themselves afloat without having to do anything else but "write").
Now, folks might want to know exactly when Lianne started out plagiarizing other people’s work. Well, it’s been confirmed that she actually plagiarized her college thesis papers and got away with it, so that evidently gave her the essential confidence and audacity to bamboozle the whole world in the wake of graduating from college. What’s astounding about Lianne’s plagiarism is how far she managed to go with it. She not only succeeded in obtaining a book deal with major publishing outfit St. Martin’s Press, but even pulled off the extraordinary female film geek’s wet dream of becoming Quentin Tarantino’s main squeeze, walking the red carpet with him at the 2013 Oscars.
How else did she manage to do this? Well, one thing Lianne did was cunningly concoct a persona that seemed oh-so-sweet and nice, with a dash of vulnerability tossed in to further perpetuate one hell of an artful and elaborate ruse. Lianne just loved to play the victim card: She would post on her Facebook wall all this oh-poor-pitiful-little-me-style stuff about folks not taking her seriously because she was two of the following things: A.) a woman and B.) QT’s girlfriend. In addition, Lianne once posted on her Facebook page that she was being stalked by this slimy cyber-creep bully who had doctored "scary" photos of her on his website of her with bullet holes in her body and her throat cut open. Obviously, this was all done to make herself seem like a victim instead of more like someone with the capacity to use and hurt others. In other words, it was a crafty smokescreen that was specifically done to avert any suspicion of possible wrongdoing on her part.
Of course, the Internet played a significant role in her sneaky subterfuge. Lianne used the writings of countless bloggers as well as various IMDb reviews as prime material for her word thievery. All it took for Lianne to acquire material to gleefully steal was a simple Google search. Fortunately, the very technology that enabled her to easily plagiarize the work of others had an equally substantial in her undoing. Once the word got out, many writers whose work had been cribbed by Lianne spoke out about it. Web boards on numerous forums, as well as Facebook, were rife with reactions that varied from anger to dismay to slack-jawed disbelief from those that knew and trusted her.
It’s time to discuss the greater ramifications of the damage Lianne has wrought. For starters, it’s frequently been noted that the horror is something of an exclusive boy’s club. And, yep, that’s true to a good degree: There is indeed a fair share of disgusting sexist male pigs who want to keep the ladies out as much as they can. What Lianne did and, more importantly, the methods she employed to do it, reinforce a horrible negative misogynistic stereotype sexist males like to believe about women: They can’t compete intellectually with men, so they must resort to falling back on their looks and dubious underhanded tactics in order to compensate for this. Female writers in the horror community have a difficult enough time acquiring any kind of credibility and what Lianne has done only makes it that much tougher for them, for it gives some kind of credence to those sexist male pigs who want it to uphold the boy’s club nonsense.
Moreover, I think Lianne represents a toxic product of today’s youth culture. A large volume of Millennials feel entitled to substantial success and sterling social status simply because they want it. However, they don’t want to take the time and make the necessary effort to truly earn said success and status. Lianne attempted to ride the backs of countless others in order to become popular and successful. She often claimed in assorted posts and in on-line interviews that she was an honest hard-working writer when, in reality, she was a liar and a thief. Worse yet, she occasionally would post on Facebook about how she was taking some time off to write (i.e., steal other people’s work) and actively campaigned for a Rondo Award as Best Writer. (She did win the almighty Rondo for her [Rondo Award-winning] web series Fright Bytes.) Her smugness about pretending to be a writer when in reality she was a complete sham makes her all the more reprehensible.
People may question my intentions for writing this piece. They might accuse me of wanting to stick it to Lianne just like she stuck it to me. And, truth be told, that accusation is a valid and correct one. Yeah, I’m very angry at Lianne for what she did to me. Not only do I feel violated by her plagiarizing of my work, but also deceived and betrayed because she pretended to be my "friend" while stealing my work and passing it off as hers behind my back. Furthermore, one of the principal things I detest about this whole dismal affair is that since Lianne plagiarized my writing, I’m involved in this ghastly situation whether I like it or not. By stealing my work, Lianne tried to make me a victim. But I flat-out refuse to be a victim. I’m not going to idly sit on the sidelines and let her get away with what she’s done not just to me, but also many fellow writers. And that alone is why I feel obligated to write this article.
One of the cruelest things Lianne did was go immediately into hiding after she was officially outed as a serial plagiarist. She promised (via Twitter) that she was going to apologize to all the writers she had plagiarized from. I never got an email from her apologizing for the theft of my work. (Hell, I actually went as far as find out that she had an account on IMDb and sent her a private message there asking her for said apology). By refusing to go public and apologize to everyone she had wronged in one way or another Lianne denied us some much-needed closure. I’m also writing this article as a means for acquiring said closure.
I must confess that Lianne really did a number on me when it came to pulling the wool over my eyes. She effectively fooled me into thinking that she was this sweet little lamb of a girl. By now, in light of all she’s done and all the people she has hurt, we can all safely surmise that Lianne was the radical antithesis of this: She was a wolf in sheep’s clothing the entire time.
Mike White adds: The Lianne Spiderbaby Scandal (as it became known in certain circles), opened up a lot of interesting discussions. As Joe pointed out, Lianne’s sex and physical attributes were used against her (and for her in some twisted ways) in scads of online screeds.
The revelation of Lianne’s thievery and bizarre behavior brought out some of the web’s best sleuths and worst trolls. The most fascinating aspects, to me, were those that tried to defend her deplorable actions and those who used her limited fame to decry all women involved in both film criticism and filmmaking. It was like watching a car crash and we’re all still dealing with the wreckage.
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