Dear Mandy, the fact that I had never heard of you or your semi-literate fan-fiction until you tweeted me doesn’t mean that I didn’t rip off your completely original and—apparently—copyrighted turn of phrase, “the man behind the fist."
Last week, we published an interview I did with Danny Marianino, erstwhile singer of "thug-core” band North Side Kings, whose unremarkable music career has been eclipsed by the fact that he once knocked out former Misfits frontman and semi-successful solo artist Glenn Danzig following a backstage argument. The interview concerned a new book Danny has coming out, which is largely about the masses of internet bullying that he has been on the receiving end of since he laid out one of music’s most revered divas with a single right-hook. This e-abuse came from what I described as “scarily overzealous Danzig fans who seem like the kind of people who would sob uncontrollably and stomp their feet if you called Danzig a pussy to their faces.”
So imagine my surprise when one of those fans completely proved my point by giving me my own dose of internet abuse for the interview on Twitter:
The irony wasn't lost on me, but my tears of laughter turned to tears of confused fear, like the kind a toddler weeps when you ignore it, when I realized that this wasn’t just any old flaming. I was being accused of plagiarism, which hasn’t happened to me since the first year of high school (fully exonerated, btw).
And it wasn’t just on Twitter, but also the comments section of VICE’s website.
The person accusing me of being a "talentless prick"—one @starpuncher666—turned out to be a lady named Mandy Hart. Turns out she once wrote a fan fiction "novella" about the Danzig-Marianino ruckus and self-published it on the internet over two and a half weeks before my interview hit the pages of VICE.com.
Uh oh. Had I absorbed some information from starpuncher666's novella about the Danzig-Marianino incident and subconsciously regurgitated it for my own ends? How was I to know, I read hundreds—perhaps even thousands—of novellas about the Danzig-Marianino incident and it could have come from any one of them. But she seemed pretty insistent that I had, even going so far as to demand reparations.
I decided to do some research and read the novella for the first time. To the extent that it has a coherent plot at all, it’s basically a fictitious story that is very, very loosely based on real-life events, where Danny punches Glenn as part of a masterplan devised by current Misfits frontman and scourge of Danzig fans everywhere, Jerry Only. The idea is that Jerry and Danny are in collusion to use the punch as a launchpad to fame and a shared book deal. It also seems to be an excuse for Mandy to think up as many different ways to describe Danny as fat as she can.
It was time to stop running. It was time to get in touch:
Oh shit. She was right—I had plagiarised @starpuncher666's novella. In it, somewhere between the anti-Semitic and homophobic jokes, there's a scene where Piers Morgan is interviewing Danny Marianino and intros him to the watching audience as "the man behind the fist"—a turn of phrase that I also used in the introduction to my interview.
I'd been exposed as a cheat. starpuncher666 was threatening career-ending action against me. Fuck George Entwistle, I had dragged journalism to a new low. I guess I better suck it up and do what she says.
So here goes—mea culpa:
The fact that I had never heard of you or your semi-literate fan-fiction until you tweeted me doesn’t mean that I didn’t rip off your completely original and—apparently—copyrighted turn of phrase, “the man behind the fist." By way of making amends, I'd like to apologize and also point you the way of a few articles where the phrase has also been used to describe, variously, Robert Mugabe, a boxer named Joe "The Brown Bomber" Lewis, and Spiderman.
And here are links to the contact pages for the Economist, The Detroit News, and Marvel Comics, all of whom I'm sure you will be pursuing copyright claims against as they have clearly also "stolen your phrase."
Frankly, I was also tempted to steal that side-splitter of a pun you made about “JewTube” (has anyone ever noticed how you don’t get much money from advertising on your YouTube channel? Pretty tight, right? Just like Jews!), but I thought that would be too blatant.
I’m not going to retract the phrase from my article as you demanded, because that would involve logging into the system which is an effort and will make my laptop crash and I have some snaps from the weekend that I need to upload to Facebook and then I need to check if this shoe shop I went to does half sizes because I bought some trainers there and they’re a tiny bit too tight but the next size up was kind of loose in the back, so I’m like, “Should I try to wear the tight ones in and hope that they stretch or return them and get the ones that are too big but with in-soles?”
But I hope that this apology will suffice and make you stop littering the internet with unsubstantiated slurs and trolling all my articles with your bullshit.
All the best,
Btw, everyone, in case I’m falling victim to some ridiculously annoying ploy to promote Mandy’s novella, it’s amazingly boring. I really wouldn’t recommend searching for it even out of curiosity. If you want something to read, why not read Danny’s book, Don’t Ever Punch a Rockstar; A Collection of Hate Mail & Other Crazy Rumors.
I would threaten to stop Mandy from ever getting published again since her book used the words “the,” “potatoes,” and “Piers Morgan,” all of which were flagrantly plagiarized from previous articles of mine in which I probably used them. But I don’t know if it’s possible to stop someone from self-publishing on the internet.
Find out if Simon's tormentor ever stops hassling him by following him on Twitter: @simonchilds13
More unbridled remorse: