Tuesday, November 1, 2011

“Something Borrowed”

In “Something Borrowed”, Malcolm Gladwell ponders to what extent is plagiarism stealing and whether or not it is plagiarism if one were to steal someone’s life story or simply words. Byrony Lavery writes a play called “Frozen” and it is a huge success. However, soon afterwards, Dorothy Lewis, a psychologist who works will serial killers, is bombarded with calls that she will love the hot new play; this is because it is seemingly all about her life, from her kiss with a serial killer to her affinity for biting. Lewis is very upset about and files a lawsuit against her. However, upon Gladwell meeting Lavery, she explains that she did not believe she was plagiarizing since she read her profile in the newspaper. She did not fail to credit Marian Partington, the women whose grief-stricken personal story went in to creating the mother of the murdered girl in her play. She thought it was fine and legal to take Lewis’ profile because it was “news”. Gladwell then goes on to explain countless musical artists who takes chords and notes from other songs, but do not believe it to be plagiarism because it is art and they make it their own. Art is considered much more acceptable to borrow from, but with the written word, people take serious offence to plagiarism and find it unacceptable.
I really enjoyed this piece. As a college student, the consequences of plagiarism are extremely severe. I agree with Gladwell in that, while it is not good, it should not ruin someones life completely. Gladwell found it in himself, just like in “Frozen,” to forgive Lavery for her transgressions of copying. It seems odd to me to think that anything is still original, since there are 7 billion on this plant now and have been many more over the last 2000 years. Full on theft of whole paragraphs is not acceptable but no one owns words but the dictionary.

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