Like the pirates of yore with their cutlass and their cannons and their eyepatches, they plundered and pillaged all the booty their paws could find. They did everything that Blackbeard and his minions did to the galleon and trading ships – everything except rape the women on board (or at least as far as I know). And unlike Blackbeard and uh, okay, Jack Sparrow, the ones doing the plundering carry with them government badges.
Yup. They did the raids all in the name of public service.
The sound you heard just now were the keening of pirated DVD owners everywhere.
But what exactly just happened here? I have compiled my thoughts on the raid as I try to put things on perspective – and why, though I love movies, my heart doesn’t exactly bleed for the movie industry right now.
Anyway, here are my thoughts on the matter:
- Piracy is stealing. Stealing is wrong. But who exactly are we stealing from? Definitely not the taxpayer. Definitely not from government. We are stealing from a multi-billion dollar industry that has helped dumb down an audience with images of blue aliens, green ogres, boy wizards and Ralph Fiennes camping it out as the Noseless Wonder.
- The OMB managed to seize P14 million worth of merchandise from three malls. Fourteen million. That sounds impressive. Convert that to dollars and it’s a mere $318,000+. That’s chump change, the kind of money you can get from Angelina Jolie’s couch. That doesn’t even cover the budget for the sandwiches they serve in A-list productions.
- What happens to the vendors? Surely, they had gone unemployed. What of their families? My heart ain’t bleeding for the producers of the pirated DVDs – they’re probably millionaires by now. I’m more concerned about those who suddenly found themselves unemployed. Life just ain’t fair.
The movie industry is dying? Check the figures. The top-grossing movie of all time is Avatar, which earned more than $2 billion. Two friggin’ billion – that’s how much money we spent to see Zoe Saldana and non-actor Sam Worthington get rendered in blue pixels in a Dances with Wolves rip-off. Two friggin’ billion! That’s enough to end world hunger.
What about the local industry? Surely, that is dying. Well, last Metro Manila Film Festival raked in during its first five days P350 million from filmgoers who went to see movies with titles like Si Agimat at si Enteng Kabisote (yeah, well, we’re not exactly an intelligent bunch, ain’t we?). That means that despite the presence of the pirates, movie-goers would still watch movies for as long as producers can hit on the right formula: throw in homoerotic hobbits, boy wizards with lightning scars, figurative and literal fairies, robots beating the crap out of each other and Vic Sotto in tights. Don’t believe me? Wait for July 15.
- Okay, so you still want to raid those pirated DeVeDeh lairs. Or at least solve the piracy problem. How about going after the source? Somewhere in the fourth circle of hell, there’s a bodega-like structure where all those pirated DVDs are churned out by the thousands (have no time verify if this is true). Go after them, if you really want a crackdown. Or failing that, why not sell original DVDs at P50 per copy? That should teach ‘em pirate scums!
- While we are at the topic of illegal goods, how about going after those God-darned sugar smugglers, eh? Don’t know much about economics but I think those people can do a lot more damage to the economy than a pirated copy of Jingle All the Way. But hey, what do I know? I’m just a lowly pop culture observer.
Bacolod Spice and I are making a bet. He believes that in two months, the pirates will be back – with a vengeance and with more selections of Manny Pacquiao Fights and more versions of that Freddy Krueger franchise than the actual franchise itself.
I say, bollocks! Two months? Give it two weeks – and my DVD shelf will not be a lonely place ever again – complete with the second Deathly Hallows installation BEFORE the movie can even come out.
Now, ain’t that just dandy?
Bacolod Spice’s Take: “Kanugon. Wala ko pa na kumpleto ang Slim Case Editions ko.”