Accepted Paper:

"Best Version": performing middle-classness through the consumption of pirated DVDs  


Trina Joyce Sajo Agena (Third World Studies Center)

Paper short abstract:

Taking further the claim that DVD piracy is a simulation of middle-classness, I draw on theories of performativity to analyze the consumption fake DVDs in the Philippines.

Paper long abstract:

Amidst the staggering poverty, mass-market consumption reeks everywhere in the Philippines. Malls loom large in urban landscapes and modernizing provincial areas. And then there are alternative sites of counterfeit commerce in street corners, rundown buildings, and overpasses, where fashion, food, music and electronics are sold at cheaper prices and with supposedly lesser quality compared to those in malls and licensed shops.

The globalizing commercial landscape is no less a testimony to Filipinos' penchant for buying. This paper takes special interest on an alternative form of consumption. Despite the government's crackdown on piracy, Filipinos continue to patronize bootlegged goods. Among these are DVDs. How can the popularity of such low quality—and least of all prohibited—form of entertainment be explained?

Noted Filipino scholar Roland Tolentino interprets DVD piracy consumption as the simulation of middle-classness. Most Filipinos desire to have the "fineries" of the good life, but only a few have gainful access. Pirated goods are representations of the desired middle-class life, but they are "as real as the real itself."

Taking Tolentino's claim further, this paper considers the consumption of fake DVDs as performance. I draw on theories of performativity to analyze the consumption of pirated DVDs in the Philippines.

Panel W085
Performing copyright: the politics of creative practice and the poetics of technology