Friday, February 16, 2007

Piracy is in the eye of the beholder

I know I haven't blogged in a long, long time, but this is a story that must be told...

This morning I'm at a press conference about a new anti-piracy study and task force featuring L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and various other government and business officials. As at most events decrying the evils of piracy, there's a wide array of pirated goods seized by law enforcement on display such as bootleg DVDs and CDs, counterfeit purses, shoes, watches, etc. They're out there for the cameras because, hey, the evenings news needs a good visual.

The event was held right outside of Staples Center, which for those of you not familiar with L.A. geography, is a big pedestrian area in the middle of downtown. So the Mayor or somebody else is talking about how awful piracy is, how it harms the Los Angeles economy and costs jobs and tax revenue, etc., etc., when I see a group of about a dozen tourists walk by. They're definitely Asian, probably Japanese.

They look at the goings-on for a minute, clearly unsure what's happening. Then they walk up to the counterfeit goods on the tables and start perusing... like they're SHOPPING. I seem to be the only one noticing this because everyone else's eyes are on the speakers in the press conference. The Japanese tourists look around, clearly expecting that somebody is going to tell them what the beautiful fake Chanel purse, or the DVD of "Norbit," costs. After a couple of minutes, they realize nobody is going to help them, and they walk away, obviously thinking that this is a poorly run counterfeit merchandise store.

Brilliant.

12 comments:

bp1101 said...

without any more context i can only interpret the conclusions that you come to as having been heavily influenced by racist stereotypes.

bp1101 said...

without any more context i can only interpret the conclusions that you come to as having been heavily influenced by racist stereotypes.

Charles said...

without any more context i can only interpret the conclusions that you come to are .... a hilarious observation on a ridiculous situation generated by corporate greed. I feel for the tourists.

King Boo said...

bp1101, how is this racist? Ben sees people that clearly don't understand English standing in front of a bunch of stuff perusing it. If a bunch of white folks that clearly don't speak the language were doing the same thing I think I would come to the same conclusion as Ben. In fact I've seen similar things in Mexico (people thinking a private party was some sort of street fair). Take your head out of your kneejerk PC ass.

TAG said...

I think what bp1101/Charles/whoever the hell means is, "If there ain't a photo, it didn't happen."

Nuts to him. ;) This isn't racist, its funny because in countries like China, Taiwan, South Korea, etc. stalls selling all manner of pirated merch are commonplace. These tourists were just being their normal selves in a land where that sort of thing gets you thrown in the slammer.

S said...

And I greatly appreciate the stadium being only a few metro stops away from Chinatown... where you can find any kind of bootleg you want, just about, in shops set up very similarly to what is described here... tables on the street, and in the massive mallplexes. :)

kevin said...

This is only "racist" if you haven't actually been to Asia and seen the massive piracy market at work.

Furthermore, perhaps the real racism here is assuming that Japanese people are so inherently different than us that we wouldn't be able to interpret their actions for what they fairly obviously were.

SDK said...

OMG, you are an idiot AND a racist. Double whammy.

First of all, you have no effin clue what the people were doing, even if they were tourists, or even if they were Japanese. Even if they WERE Japanese, Japan does not have an underground piracy ring the same way that other countries do.

palinode said...

Yeah, how dare you observe people and then relate your observations? Stop it. If you must talk about people and draw conclusions, please include every last detail that would justify your conclusions, with supporting sources. Please find those people you observed, interview them thoroughly about the incident, photocopy their passports, and lastly include a photo of yourself hugging each one. Otherwise you're a big racist. And I'm gonna tell all my internets friends.

kelvin said...

On the other hand, China has an aboveground pirated goods market. When my relatives and I went back to Hong Kong for a reunion, they spent a day across the bay in Shenzhen, shamelessly shopping for high-fashion knockoffs that are made and sold in vast quantities there. Ironically, many of the authentic versions of those items are manufactured there as well. Why pay more??? :)

In any case, I think the particular race or nationality of the clueless pedestrians in this article is incidental; merely mentioning race is not, in my mind, racist. There are street vendors here in Toronto who sell obviously copied DVDs laid out on a blanket. If I saw a spread of stuff arranged on the sidewalk, I'd probably stop and look myself.

Seth said...

SDK, I must be hallucinating, because I see on the shelf across from me a film that I bought on the street in Shibuya, you know, in Tokyo, from a street vendor selling them for 1000 yen a pop. I thought this is great! 1/3 the usual price in stores, and for a real DVD in a nice jewel case. Of course on closer inspection after purchase, it was clearly a copy. Japan has its own homegrown fake DVD market just like practically anywhere else in the world.

I find it particularly amusing how certain you sound that you are right, when you have no concept of what you are talking about.

The Red Planet said...

We were producing some anti-counterfeiting campaign spots on a market in London and despite the sign on the stall saying 'SNIDE UK - Counterfeit Goods from all over the World', and the lights, camera and crew, we still had people trying to buy goods from our stall! I guess its just human nature all over the world.
BTW you can see the ads (there is one up already) on www.snideuk.org or on youtube - www.youtube.com/snideukorg
Of course feel free to pass judgement!
Cheers
The Red Planet