Friday, 27 April 2012

Mara Wilson criticises the Mail's 'lack of integrity'

At the Olivier Awards earlier this month, the musical Matilda won seven awards.

Soon after, MailOnline published an article about Mara Wilson, who played Matilda in the 1996 film directed by Danny DeVito.

The Mail's article originally ran under the headline:

As musical dominates Olivier awards, former child star Mara Wilson, 24, rants about how film acting 'is tedious'

That then changed to:

What ever happened to the original Matilda? As musical dominates Olivier awards, we look at cute child movie star Mara Wilson, 24, as she abandons acting

It currently reads:

What happened to the original Matilda? As the hit musical dominates Olivier awards, former child star Mara Wilson, seen aged 24

Mara Wilson was less than impressed with the Mail and took to her blog (Mara Wilson Writes Stuff) to explain:

I had read articles in the Daily Mail before, so I knew what to expect: something cheap and sensationalist. What I did not expect was an article composed almost entirely of out-of-context quotes from my blog. There were no citations and there was no link to the original post on my site. It didn’t even seem to have been proofread: it ended mid-quotation.

Simple fact-checking escaped the author, as well: I was a Drama major at NYU, not an art major (I understand they’re both considered “useless” degrees, but the fact is easily verifiable); I was five, not four when I started acting and starred in Doubtfire (which is not a big deal, unless you either know a good deal about child development or take a second to realize that 1993 minus 1987 equals six and I would have has a birthday at some point that year); I’ve never had any “bit parts” in “low-budget films” (though I almost wish I had, as most of my favorite movies are low-budget movies. Blame my having dated an NYU film major for three years: film snobbery is contagious.)

It was a mess, and it made me seem bitter and ungrateful. I was less than thrilled.

She goes on:

The article has changed several times since then: there is now a link to my page, entire paragraphs have been shifted around or deleted. My description has also been updated from “the brunette” to “the young playwright,” which is nice: I prefer to be recognized for the things I do rather than what I look like. It still speaks of my “damning views” on child acting and implies that I am “bitter,” but the title no longer refers to my explanatory blog post as a “rant.” There is now an additional author’s name on the article. Some friends have suggested that I contact them to suggest they list me as a co-author. After all, I wrote half the article.


a friend from NYU contacted a friend of his who writes for the Daily Mail to ask if he had anything to do with it. He said he hadn’t, but that if I was interested, they would give me the chance to write a piece for them. I declined, because they wanted it to be about child acting and I would have rather it been about the Daily Mail‘s lack of integrity.

She ends:

That said, what bothered me most was that I was not credited. Disrespectful comments about myself or what I did as a child I can deal with, and will be dealing with for the rest of my life. But I cannot abide disrespect and near plagiarism of what I’ve written....

This was not the easiest week, but a lot of good has come of it. Besides, I know now that if writing plays doesn’t pan out, I can easily get a job at the Daily Mail. I am an expert copy-and-paster.

(Hat-tip to Craig Silverman)

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