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The Cinemassacre Plagiarism Scandal refers to a controversy where a Cinemassacre writer plagiarised portions of an online review for the film 28 Days Later for their own review of the movie as a part of the company's annual Monster Madness event, where James Rolfe reviews a different horror movie every day in October. The video was hosted on the Cinemassacre website on October 1st and taken down days later after a viewer noticed similarities in the written review and the video's dialogue. The video has since been removed and Rolfe uploaded an apology video shifting blame onto a nameless writer at Screenwave, the production company that's partnered with Cinemassacre.
On October 1st, 2021, Cinemassacre, best known for the Angry Video Game Nerd series, began their annual Monster Madness event where James Rolfe, founder of Cinemassacre, reviews a different horror movie every day in October in celebration of Halloween. This year the reviews were hosted on the Cinemassacre website exclusively to avoid censorship by YouTube. The first video, a review for the 2002 film 28 Days Later, was posted to the site that day but has since been removed. It has been reuploaded to YouTube (shown below).
On that day, Redditor Z_B_123 made a post to the /r/TheCinemassacreTruth showing several instances from the video side-by-side with portions of a 2003 review for the film by Cecilia Sayad for the Film Comment website. The wording of Rolfe's narration is almost identical to the review, with some words slightly changed. These plagiarized sections were showcased in a YouTube video by Disgruntled Wombats on the same day, gaining over 13,000 views in four days (shown below).
On October 2nd, ResetEra user alr1ght made a thread exposing the plagiarism. That day alr1ght posted evidence of two times from the past where sections of different reviews were plagiarized for Cinemassacre content, although these are arguably less cut-and-dry. Another user, ash32121 accused a writer of plagiarising from the Korean horror Wikipedia page for their review of the film The Host, the second episode of 2021's Monster Madness event. These accusations have not been addressed.
Justin Silverman, or JustySilverman327 on Reddit, a co-host and producer of Cinemassacre content and a Screenwave employee, actively responded to a number of comments on Reddit regarding the plagiarism in the days leading up to their official statement. In one comment he confirms that a new employee, Newt, wrote most of the early scripts for Monster Madness 2021, indirectly direction the blame towards him (shown below). He also mentions the script for The Host, however, says Newt had no part in that script.
On October 4th, 2021, James Rolfe posted an unlisted video on the Cinemassacre Clips YouTube channel apologizing for the incident of plagiarism, admitting that it did happen and clearing up his own name as well as additional Cinemassacre and Screenwave hosts Kieran Fallon and Justin Silverman. Rolfe instead blames an unnamed writer at Screenwave, the production company behind Cinemassacre (shown below). The video was shared on the Cinemassacre website in place of episode one of Monster Madness and by Rolfe on the Cinemassacre Twitter.
On the same day, RCE Pods and Clips posted a video to YouTube discussing the scandal (shown below). Justin commented on the video explaining how they needed help to keep up with the pace of their plans for Monster Madness, how he regrets getting that help and how they've had no plagiarism issues in the past (shown below). The comment was pinned by RCE Pods and Clips.
The reactions to Rolfe's apology were mixed-to-positive, with some seeing it as fair and genuine, citing Rolfe's good track record and Screenwave's increasingly obvious presence in Cinemassacre's content over the past years, making it believable that someone else wrote the scripts. Others saw it as blame-shifting and disappointing, especially from someone like Rolfe who is passionate about horror films. Many placed the blame on Screenwave employee Newt after Justin's comments. The /r/TheCinemassacreTruth subreddit had a more negative response to the apology and those who accepted it at face value.
The /r/TheCinemassacreTruth subreddit became dedicated to the scandal starting on October 1st, resulting in a lot of memes referencing it. On October 4th, Redditor Small_Macaroon_1196 posted a piece of art to /r/TheCinemassacreTruth based on the thumbnail of Rolfe's apology video, gaining over 230 upvotes in a day (shown below).
Many of the memes criticized Rolfe and Justin's shift of blame to Newt and portrayed the new employee as a punching bag or scapegoat for the others (examples from /r/TheCinemassacreTruth shown below).
On October 5th, Redditor MegaSystem88 posted a cartoon to /r/TheCinemassacreTruth depicting Justin angrily asking the other Cinemassacre members who plagiarized the scripts, gaining over 140 upvotes in four hours (shown below).