Marcus Boon engages with the idea of mimesis and imitation to critique ideas surrounding copying by intellectual property and copyright law.
Throughout “What Is A Copy?” Marcus Boon engages with the idea of mimesis and imitation principally by using Buddhist thought to critique Platonic ideas surrounding copying as well as, by association, the foundations of Western concepts of Intellectual Property and Copyright Law.
These concluding thoughts have been generated from reading and reflecting on the chapter and form genuine problems with which I am wrestling.
Boon outlines how complex the idea of copying has become, especially in the light of mass production, using LOUIS VUITTON bags as his ongoing example. This area is fraught with legal and ethical complexity, further complicated by LOUIS VUITTON themselves, who employed an artist – Takashi Murakami – to collaborate in designing their bags. Boon describes at the outset of the chapter an exhibition in which Murakami displayed authentic LOUIS VUITTON bags on fake market stalls in a museum, problematizing, or at least highlighting the relation between the LOUIS VUITTON product and the gray and the black market in lookalikes.
A LOUIS VUITTON bag exists first as an idea and then, when manufactured, as an approximation of that idea.
Murakami also uses LOUIS VUITTON motifs and logos in his artworks. To recap the classical view on copying and mimesis: Plato saw the world as a dim reflection of truth. That truth is located in the ‘ideal.’ The perfect circle exists only as an idea, and all representations of the circle are crude and approximate. Similarly, the Platonic argument runs thus: a Louis Vuitton bag exists first as an idea and then, when manufactured, as an approximation of that idea. Aristotle referred to the ‘ideal’ as ‘essence,’ which is the phrase that Boon uses. Essence, according to Aristotle, gives shape and purpose to matter. All LOUIS VUITTON bags, Plato and Aristotle, argue, contain only echoes or traces of that Ideal.
“In Plato’s Republic, Socrates presents the argument that everything in this world is an imitation because it is an echo or reproduction of an idea that exists beyond the realm of sensible forms. A LOUIS VUITTON bag is the imitation of an idea, in leather and other materials, while a photograph of such a bag is an imitation of an imitation.”
A good deal of Essence ought to be carried by the painstakingly similar bootleg copies of the bags.
Heidegger, Boon proposes, engages with outward appearance, defining copying as “presenting and producing something in a manner which is typical of something else.” If Essence is bound up in the appearance of things, then a good deal of Essence ought to be carried by the painstakingly similar bootleg copies of the bags.
As an aside, we ought to care to notice the language on display here: appear, like, reproduction, imitation, and so on. The language of mimesis is eloquent and evasive, speaking of the contingencies and difficulties bound into the very act of copying and its rationale, especially concerning the legal doublespeak on display when talking of “authentically original imitations of the real originals!”.
But what, Boon argues, if there is no Essence, no Ideal? Before engaging fully with Oriental thought, Boon also mentions Deleuze, Derrida, Foucault, and Baudrillard’s work. These thinkers are passed over swiftly as Boon wants to focus on non-Western thought traditions, but they have a place here as they each in their own way critique the classical views of the Ideal and Essence. Each of these thinkers begins to chip away at the idea or importance of the Essence, but Boon takes the radical step of saying “if we can agree that there are no Platonic essences…” and then seeks to argue the case.
“…if objects did have essences, there could be no copying of them, since that which one would make the copy out of would continue to have its Essence, and could have only this Essence, rather than that Essence which is implied by the transformed outward appearance that would make it a copy. Similarly, suppose the Essence of a thing was truly fixed. In that case, it could not be transported to the copy, and imitation, even as a degradation of the original, would not be possible.
Ask the Platonist where one can find the ideal form which supposedly constitutes the real LOUIS VUITTON bag,
“[This] … response to the Platonic doctrine of the idea would be to ask the Platonist where one can find the ideal form which supposedly constitutes the real Louis Vuitton bag, and, through the systematic negation of all the possibilities, to demonstrate that it has no existence.
We can find nothing but the bags that are around us, some of which we call and designate “LOUIS VUITTON bags.” This designation is always necessarily a relative one. The LOUIS VUITTON bag does not know it is a LOUIS VUITTON bag, even if it has “LV” inscribed on it. To a person from the tenth century, to a dog, or to a bacterium, the designation “LOUIS VUITTON bag” would be meaningless, as far we know. There is no essence to the bag which guarantees that it is recognizable as such.”
So, the idea begins to seem less and less tenable to Boon. Despite the vast number of cues displayed by a LOUIS VUITTON bag – logo, quality of material, artistry, and so on, the status of ‘original’ is always in doubt. Imitations are, according to Boon and others, indistinguishable from the ‘originals.’
If the idea of essence-less is pursued we arrive eventually at a paradox, “If things lack fundamental natures, it turns out that they all have the same nature, that is, emptiness, and hence both have and lack that very nature.”.
Boon calls this ‘non-duality’: “difference and sameness are neither different nor the same; and what is, […] is emptiness itself.” The final section of the chapter revolves around Michael Taussig’s idea of ‘contagion.’ That is, a law of contact:
Things that have been in contact with each other continue to act on each other at a distance after the physical contact has been severed. And once again, we are back in the world of the LOUIS VUITTON bag, by way of an advertising image of Uma Thurman touching a VUITTON bag and looking directly at us. She has touched it with her celebrity and, therefore, runs the commercial logic, we desire. Luckily, they make more than one of these things, and we can, in theory, acquire one with a sense of connection and celebrity.
All LOUIS VUITTON bags are merely copies, as only the Ideal or Essence is perfect.
If the classical view of mimesis is correct, surely all LOUIS VUITTON bags are merely copies, as only the Ideal or Essence is perfect. As discussed above, all bags in the real world are imperfect copies, including the ‘originals’ and ‘imitations.’ No doubt LOUIS VUITTON would take issue with this stance as they argue – through their advertising – that their bags, the ones made in their factories and sold through their shops are, to steal a phrase ‘the real thing.’ The advert quoted by Boon at the head of the chapter relies on this position. So are LOUIS VUITTON drawing down the Essence into their products, thus marginalizing the fakes as, well, fake? Is Essence the foundation of our copyright law? What happens to that moral force if there is no Essence?
Seeing the Velvet Underground at the Exploding Plastic Inevitable in 1966 is one thing, but seeing them at the NEC in the nineties is surely different, even if it’s the same four people. However, four unknown musicians faithfully replicating the Velvet’s 1966 performance in a club in New York in the 1990s ought to, instinctively, be rejected (or embraced), as fake. Where, then, is any Essence located? If there is any Essence in relation to objects or events, then perhaps it comes from an audience. Do we project, contingent upon knowledge, interest, and so on, an essence?
How does this discussion of Essence (and its lack, which seems so plausible) fit in with art practice, which continues to privilege the touch (contagion), of the maker, even if we know that historically that has a dubious basis?
Boon’s summary of the various arguments against any Essence (that has any clout), seems plausible. Still, I am struck that in a few days, I am going to Paris, and I plan to visit the Louvre to see paintings and sculptures, many of which I have seen in reproduction many times. I may not intellectually believe in Essence, but I act and spend as if I do. What’s going on?
Can the idea of Essence or its non-existence be applied outside the world of objects and events? Can we extend any of these arguments into relationships, politics, and so on?
Boon is an Associate Professor of English at York University, Toronto. “In Praise Of Copying” was published by Harvard University Press in 2010.
In recent years, China has emerged as the largest manufacturer and exporter of counterfeit goods while simultaneously becoming one of the most prominent luxury markets in the world. This unique duality is reshaping the global luxury trade, with genuine and fake coexisting and even complementing each other. I will explore how these seemingly contradictory markets level the playing field, empowering China to build a diverse economy and navigate the complexities of industrial imperialism and inequality.
A Tale of Two Markets
At first glance, it may seem counterintuitive for China to be the world’s largest producer of counterfeit goods and one of its most important luxury markets. However, this duality has allowed the Chinese market to thrive uniquely. The counterfeit market, in particular, has enabled millions of people to access luxury items they would otherwise be unable to afford. By making these goods more accessible, the counterfeit industry has democratized luxury, allowing a more comprehensive range of consumers to participate in the luxury market.
The Paradoxical Coexistence
On the one hand, the counterfeit market undermines the luxury industry by devaluing genuine luxury products and diluting brand equity. On the other hand, it stimulates consumer interest in luxury items, ultimately driving demand for authentic products. This paradoxical coexistence of counterfeit and real luxury goods has created a mutually reinforcing relationship that has bolstered both markets.
Leveling the Playing Field
China’s dual role in the luxury trade has given it the unique ability to level the playing field in the global market. By manufacturing and exporting counterfeit goods, China has resisted industrial imperialism and created its own economic opportunities. This has helped the country develop a diverse economy rather than relying solely on traditional industries or low-value manufacturing.
Inequality and Social Implications
While the luxury market and counterfeit trade have contributed to China’s economic growth, they have also played a role in perpetuating social inequalities. The growing appetite for luxury goods has increased the emphasis on materialism and status symbols, widening the gap between the wealthy and the poor.
However, the counterfeit market has also counterbalanced this trend by making luxury items more affordable and accessible to the general public. While this may not solve the issue of wealth inequality, it offers a means for more people to participate in the luxury market. It helps to democratize the consumption of luxury goods.
The dual existence of the counterfeit and luxury markets in China has created a unique dynamic that has bolstered the Chinese economy and leveled the global playing field. As China continues navigating the complexities of industrial imperialism and inequality, the interaction between these two markets will be crucial. The country’s ability to balance the benefits and drawbacks of its role in the luxury trade will be vital to ensuring long-term economic stability and social cohesion.
Who needs a genuine luxury bag when you can get a fake one for a fraction of the price?
Why waste your hard-earned cash on the latest CHANEL, LOUIS VUITTON, or GUCCI bag when you can snag a convincing knockoff online? Who cares if it falls apart after a few wears? At least you’ll look fabulous in those Instagram snaps!
Take a stand against “greedflation” and show them who’s boss by investing in a high-quality fake.
Reasons to buy a fake designer bag? Let me count the ways! First, it’s an excellent way to fight against greedy luxury brands. Why should they get all the profits? Take a stand against “greedflation” and show them who’s boss by investing in a high-quality fake.
Scouring the internet for the perfect imitation designer bag is like a high-stakes treasure hunt.
Secondly, let’s talk about the thrill of the chase. Scouring the internet for the perfect imitation designer bag is like a high-stakes treasure hunt. Will you find the 1:1 copy or end up with a shoddy knockoff? The suspense is killing me!
You can have a “LOUIS VUITTON” bag that’s practically indistinguishable from the real thing.
But the best reason of all to buy a fake luxury bag? It’s a surefire way to make a statement. Who needs an authentic LOUIS VUITTON when you can have a “LOUIS VUITTON” bag that’s practically indistinguishable from the real thing? It’s like saying, “I’m too cool for school but not too cool for a fake designer bag.” It’s the ultimate power move.
Some may argue that buying fake luxury bags is illegal or immoral. But who cares about that? As the saying goes, “Fake it till you make it!” And in this case, you’ll be faking it with style. So, let your inner fashionista shine, and don’t be afraid to embrace the fake.
It’s not about the bag you carry but the attitude you bring to it.
And if anyone gives you a hard time about it, flash them your faux FENDI and tell them to step off. Because in the end, it’s not about the bag you carry but the attitude you bring to it.
Some fake handbags might support sweatshops, but genuine ones can also be made in poor conditions in third-world countries. If the ethicality of sweatshop labor truly matters to people, then buyers should dispose of all goods marked from countries that allow sweatshop labor.
Myth 2: Fake Handbags Pose Health Dangers
There is no evidence that fake designer bags pose health risks, despite misconceptions linking them to other counterfeit goods. Nevertheless, some chemicals used in manufacturing all bags could be risky. No product has ever been deemed dangerous by the U.S. government.
Myth 3: Police May Arrest Fake Handbag Buyers
US buyers won’t be arrested for purchasing fake handbags, as law enforcement focuses on sellers rather than buyers.
Myth 4: Fake Handbags Support Terrorism & Crime
No direct link exists between fake luxury bags and terrorism, but counterfeit goods may indirectly support corruption in third-world countries. Other daily items could have stronger terrorism ties. The oil industry, a murky business, possesses more direct connections to terrorism.
Myth 5: Expensive Bags Must be Real
Some counterfeiters price fakes close to originals, preying on buyers seeking discounts. To avoid scams, buy a genuine article only from authorized retailers. The problem is that super-fake handbags are hard to tell from the real deal and might be al
Myth 6: All Fakes are Bad Quality
Some “super fakes” closely resemble authentic bags and boast high quality. Replica luxury bags have varying quality levels, so examine them in person.
Myth 7: Bags with Logos are Real Because Counterfeit Bags Cannot Use Logos
Counterfeiters ignore copyright laws, which is evident in their business. “Super fake” bags replicate logos, materials, hardware, and other details of genuine bags. Some online retailers ban brand names in ads to fight counterfeiting, requiring buyers to use alternative search terms.
Myth 8: Buying Online is Better than Buying in Person
Buying Online is Better Buying in person is usually better, as online shopping can’t show true quality and may be susceptible to scams.
Myth 9: Serial Numbers Mean a Bag is Real
Serial numbers, dust bags, and tags can be faked. Treat all anti-counterfeit features with skepticism.
Designer replicas are becoming increasingly popular as they now offer quality similar to the original luxury items, encouraging people to wear them without shame.
In the past, wearing a counterfeit designer product could tarnish one’s reputation. However, the high-quality knock offs available today have disrupted the luxury influencing scene, with more people embracing them proudly. British blogger Georgia May revealed a $75 knockoff of LOUIS VUITTONS’s Capucines BB handbag to her 240,000 TikTok followers, even though the authentic product retails for $6,750.
As the economy evolves, designer replicas are gaining social acceptance. Data from the European Union Intellectual Property Office shows that 37% of Gen Z respondents admitted to buying fake products in the past year. TikTok content tagged with #DHgate, a Chinese marketplace notorious for selling counterfeit designer goods, has garnered 3 billion views.
The rise of knockoffs challenges influencer-driven consumerism and the need for expensive, high-end labels to maintain a polished online presence
Some luxury influencers, like Jeffrey Huang, argue that counterfeit products undermine the luxury market, as people buy fake items and pass them off as authentic. However, others contend that the rise of knockoffs challenges influencer-driven consumerism and the need for expensive, high-end labels to maintain a polished online presence. As counterfeit goods become more sophisticated and visually indistinguishable from the real thing, influencers are adopting them to achieve the appearance of affluence.
The counterfeit luxury industry, estimated to be worth $400-$600 billion, has sparked the need for authentication services to differentiate between real and fake products. Advocates for counterfeit items argue that buying fakes is a financially savvy choice in times of economic uncertainty. For some, it’s an act of defiance against an industry that thrives on exclusivity and scarcity.
Critics have also accused luxury influencers of being out of touch with their audience’s financial realities.
However, there are ethical concerns regarding the counterfeit industry. Brett Staniland, a model and sustainable fashion creator, highlights the importance of fair wages and intellectual property rights for those who produce these items. Critics have also accused luxury influencers of being out of touch with their audience’s financial realities.
With soaring inflation rates, it’s not surprising that creators are prioritizing their own needs over ethical considerations.
Despite these concerns, luxury influencers like Huang remain unapologetic about their content, which some followers appreciate for its aspirational quality. As fast-fashion brands attempt to become more sustainable, luxury brands continue to grapple with the growing popularity of knockoffs. The normalization of counterfeit items raises questions about the impact on design houses, manufacturers, department stores, and consumers, but with soaring inflation rates, it’s not surprising that creators are prioritizing their own needs over ethical considerations.
Welcome to the golden era of dupes! In a world where luxury has become an aspirational pursuit, TikTok is serving us a delicious buffet of irony and sarcasm.
Say goodbye to the days when owning the latest GUCCI belt was a must-have status symbol. Today, it’s all about finding the perfect dupe and flaunting it with a wink and a nod.
At the heart of this fascinating trend is the dupe mindset – a cheeky, yet self-aware perspective on the luxury industry. Strolling through Target or Walmart, it’s hard not to notice the uncanny resemblance of certain items to their high-end counterparts. But the dupe mindset isn’t just about finding knockoffs; it’s about embracing the humor and irony in chasing after a carefully curated lifestyle on a budget.
It seems that Gen Z has shifted the narrative around knockoffs and luxury.
TikTok has played a vital role in transforming the concept of dupes from a taboo into a viral sensation. With hashtags like #reps, #dupe, and #tiktokmademebuyit racking up billions of views, it seems that Gen Z has shifted the narrative around knockoffs and luxury. Today, finding the perfect dupe is no longer a guilty secret, but rather a fun and exciting challenge.
But why the sudden love for dupes? It could be the result of inflation, a decline in production quality, or simply a new generation of cash-strapped teens with an unquenchable thirst for high-end living. Whatever the reason, the hunt for the perfect dupe has become a profitable game for content creators and a source of endless entertainment for their audiences.
In a delightful twist of irony, influencers are now creating “dupe” content by mimicking each other’s videos.
What’s even more interesting is how the meaning of the word “dupe” has evolved in the age of TikTok. Once a term reserved for near-identical knockoffs, it has now come to represent anything that remotely resembles its luxurious counterpart. And in a delightful twist of irony, influencers are now creating “dupe” content by mimicking each other’s videos.
The dupe mindset is a brilliant example of how social media can mock and challenge our perceptions of luxury and status. It goes beyond mere product comparisons, highlighting the absurdity of our constant quest for social validation. In a world where FENDI sunglasses and PRADA totes are reduced to mere punchlines, it seems that the dupe mindset has truly turned the luxury industry on its head.
So, the next time you spot a fabulous dupe on TikTok, remember to laugh along and embrace the irony. After all, it’s not every day that you can snag a slice of luxury on a Walmart budget – even if it’s just a clever imitation. Happy duping!