After the story arc based on Ernest Saves Christmas, I’ve always been a little suspicious.
It has been said that good artists copy, and great artists steal. Actually, I said that. The caveat of that saying that is missing is that the greats steal with a certain subtlety, a wink and a nod without blatantly transplanting something you’ve already heard. In a culture where we have so much derivative media, we are not doing as well on this front. Remember that horrid Robin Hood film with Russel Crowe? That was originally intended to be a film from the perspective of the Sheriff of Nottingham. Doesn’t that just utterly consume you with curiosity? That’s a set-up I want to root around in and find all the nooks and crannies. But ultimately they couldn’t write it. I reckon that’s because that idea would require acute nuance and interweaving with the minutiae of something we know intimately, and that is really damn hard.
It is easy to see, then, why there is an allure to just take wholesale and hope that the other guy hasn’t read/watched/heard the same stuff. In D&D that allure is monolithic. A friend of ours, who shall remain nameless, has been known to be particularly guilty. Let’s just say that when I started reading Cormac McCarthy, the manifold depth of his betrayal became starkly apparent. In the end, that’s the trade-off: nicking a cool little detail is easy to pass, but when you take big ideas, and the jig is up, you’ve just torpedoed multiple experiences for the other person. Now, not only have they been deceived, but they’ve simultaneously been given spoilers for a whole other work.
By the way though, statute of limitations on the spoiler that Three Men and a Baby features three men and also a baby is…well, it’s past its prime.