Every single one of us has been made to do a group project at school or work with someone who ultimately takes the lion’s share of the credit after contributing way less. Some of us were bothered more than others, the universal knowledge being that these things happen and nobody really cares and that you’ll have chances to shine on your own merit eventually.
For Margaret Keane eventually took awhile. The story goes like this. Homegirl met a real charming dude named Walter who swept her off her feet, married her and became stepfather to her little girl. Before too long though he decides he doesn’t really like the idea of her leaving the house and that instead she should be locked inside, forced to paint for up to 16 hours a day. Turns out though that Margaret was really good at painting so Walter had exactly zero choices. He had to take her pretty feminine, sorta creepy work and pass it off as his own.
There were a lot of critics who thought the dolls were kinda LCD but the masses couldn’t get enough and before you know it prints and postcards of the paintings were being sold everywhere, the modern day version of “Keep Calm and Insert Nauseating Alternative.” The Keanes had millions of dollars, a mansion and servants. And for a good long while Margaret had no idea Walter, an aspiring artist himself, was taking credit for her work. But when he let her attend one of his/her art shows one day and a patron asked her if she also painted, Margaret was like:
Although Margaret was pissed, Walter was all, “Bae, if we confess now people will be confused and start suing us so it really is best for everyone if you go back to painting in a dark, locked room 16 hours a day while I hang with the likes of The Beach Boys and write a book about my life as a painter.” The book was pretty rad even if only in hindsight. According to Walter when they met Margaret gushed over his talent and begged to touch his paintings in order to be similarly inspired. He told her “no effin way” obvi because her no-talent ass would rub off on his works of art but he did stick it to her, which resulted in his writing that she said he was the best lover she’d ever had.
Finally Margaret broke away from dude after he set her studio on fire in a temper tantrum but STILL he expected her to mail him paintings, which she actually did for awhile. But after a couple of years she was like, “you know what? No. Guess what everyone? I painted those and for what? I never even got to meet Brian Wilson.” Walter of course asserted the paintings were his and finally the two met in court where a brilliant judge was all, “Okay hows about you both recreate this here Big Eye painting and we will see who the real artist is?” Margaret nails it and Walter sits there painting nothing because he has a sore shoulder. Otherwise he absolutely could have painted it blindfolded. Vindication is Margarets! To make up for the many years she lost to the darkness she gets a movie telling her story with banging Amy Adams portraying her. Unfortunately Walter won’t be able to see it because he drank himself to death and ended up dead broke.
I completely get how Margaret feels. I used to have an ex who would repeat jokes I told him quietly at parties in a really loud voice and then when people would laugh he would bask in their adoration. It would have remained mildly amusing had he not been offered a tv show based on his standup comedy and a salary in the low six figures after telling one of these jokes. Okay so that last part didn’t really happen but he legit stole a lot of my jokes and that? was not funny. But like Margaret I am now free to enjoy my life in the sunshine with my talent on display and my ex if not actually dead then at least financially and emotionally ailing.
Here’s to karma, bitches!