used to be that you were embroiled in a scandal and that was it for your reputation and your future. now, you’re rewarded. maybe the real world has become the distortion reality of ‘reality’ tv.
if you’ve never heard of kaavya viswanathan, you should look her up. she engineered a book titled, how opal mehta got kissed, got wild and got a life and she’s the poster child of what’s wrong with, oh, a whole lot of our society today.
this kid, offspring of two physicians, got a half million dollar book contract, got into harvard and became the toast of the town.
so, the next part of the story is that another harvard kid read kaavya’s book (which apparently a whole lot of other people involved in actually publishing it did not) and accused her of plagiarizing megan mccafferty’s books. then a whole lot of other people piled on as they read through the book. turns out, being the model of overachievement that she is, kaavya plagiarized (cut and pasted as one blogger referred to it) from not one, but four authors (megan mccafferty, sophie kinsella, meg cabot and salman rushdie). ripping off themes, characters, whole passages and even dialogue.
how did this happen? she says she has a photographic memory and unconsciously lifted… bla, bla, bla. bullshit. there was nothing accidental (or original) about her writing or her story.
so here’ what i think went down here: (i only know parts of this to be true, the rest is speculation)
kaavya was identified as some kind of writing prodigy by ivywise, the firm her parents paid a boatload of money ($30,000) to make sure she got into an ivy league college… which kind of begs the conclusion that they had to conjur up some kind of prodigious ability for this kid in order to justify their pricetag. ivywise consultant (btw, they have descriptions of their specialties: “students seeking admission to highly selective schools and under-represented minorities” and my favorite, bragging that they can get your kid admission into “pre-kindergarten programs, kindergarten, elementary, middle, secondary and boarding schools…
so, ivywise’s overpaid consultant has a connection with a ‘packaging’ firm who took the outline of the book (it wasn’t even a manuscript) and pimped it out to publishers and hollywood studios. they all bit. kid got a book deal and admission into harvard. ivywise consultant got big pay.
here’s where it got really interesting. another kid at harvard wrote an article in the the harvard crimson defending kaavya on the grounds that “rappers sample from other music artists all the time and no one calls it stealing.” ah, yep, they do call it stealing if the rapper doesn’t pay royalties for the material that’s been sampled, snotnose kid. so, if kaavya had just cited and quoted the sections she stole, she would have been okay? not so fast, speaks a douchebag from u of penn, ‘cuz kaavya only stole just enough material to qualify as ‘fair usage’ and isn’t guilty of plagiarizing at all.
in the immortal words of chris rock, “just ‘cuz you can do it doesn’t mean it’s to be done.”
so kaavy was not drummed out of harvard for her offense, went on to graduate, and got into georgetown law school, which in a lot of ways makes a whole lot of sense. after that, she scores a prestigious clerkship.
does anyone else think there’s something very wrong with this story? so, we don’t believe in forgiveness of people who came into this country illegally decades ago, or for criminals who have served their time, but this liarthief? not a problem.
probably the most disturbing part is that there were people lined up to defend kaavya, even if it was using the idiotic “everyone else is doing it” defense. yeesh.
mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be liarthiefs*. people, please raise up kids with integrity even when you see that distortion reality pays off.
*reference to the song, “mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys” by ed and patsy bruce.
p.s. there’s a p.s. to this story. both of kaavya’s parents were killed last summer when the small plane that her father was piloting crashed. kaavya is an only child.