Sunday, May 27, 2012

Marbles! You have no marbles!

How craven and limp-wristed has the Jakarta Globe's leadership become? In the paper's latest editorial -- in which it fully supports the canceling of Lady Gaga's concert in Jakarta -- it can't even bring itself to mention the extremist Islamic Defender's Front (or FPI, by its Indonesian acronym) by name. Instead, it dances around the issue of the police caving to threats from radicals and tries to excuse it all with some socio-political hand-waving.
The saga over Lady Gaga’s concert is finally over now that the pop star decided to cancel her Jakarta show. The reason was security concerns and, given the public controversy, it was definitely the right decision.
Certainly her large fan base in Indonesia will be disappointed. It is also unfortunate that the concert was called off due to security concerns. The country’s police had assured both fans and organizers that it would be possible for the show to proceed.
There are larger issues at play, though. Indonesia is a vibrant, diverse democracy and as such the authorities had to take into consideration all voices. It is their job to ensure that all segments of society have their voices heard.
We do not condone the use of violence and threats to allegedly push an agenda. We do not condone breaking the law and damaging property just to make a point, as some groups have allegedly done recently. Such behavior is unwelcome in a democratic, civilized society.
There are, however, many justifiable reasons for opposing acts like Lady Gaga, such as the messages these supposed artists project. It is not about how she dresses, which is needlessly provocative, but about what she sings and the lyrics of her songs. It is about the lack of morality in what she represents.
Youth will typically be rebellious and anti-establishment. But it is also important that we inculcate in them the proper Indonesian values that will put them in good standing when they enter into adulthood.
Given the divisiveness and the controversy created, the decision to cancel Lady Gaga’s show was the correct one. We must all show maturity and understanding about the cultural sensitivities in our communities. We must accept that Indonesian society is different and that we cannot be expected to be as liberal as other societies.
That will be on the Globe's website on Monday, but that kind of awfulness deserves swift and savage mockery. Once this is out, I imagine the roasting it will receive will rival even that given to the Globe's infamous anti-pornography editorial.

[EDIT: Here it is, right on schedule. Doesn't sound like the masses are pleased.]

Reading that tripe, it's hard not to think back to the oft-repeated cry of "special circumstances" one often hears when people bring up Singapore's atrocious record on human rights. It's awfully convenient to argue that Western ideas of democracy and free speech wouldn't work in your special little corner of the globe and that "swift executive action" is needed to prevent disorder at all costs. No wonder Singapore's unofficial national motto is "the world's most welcoming oppressive dictatorship." Or is that "Disneyland with the death penalty?" I can never remember.

A free press? Don't make the PAP laugh. Journalists are just there to assist the government in nation-building. An adversarial relationship wouldn't work in Singapore because, y'know, "special circumstances."

The attitude given off by the new Globe leadership just screams out that they think Indonesia, just like Singapore, should be of the elite, by the elite and for the elite. Even if Golkar retakes the Presidential Palace, though -- and Aburizal Bakrie is certainly behaving as though that's a fait accompli, making officially unofficial visits to Australia and Singapore -- all the yearning and pining won't return Indonesia to the Suharto era, when cronies were handsomely rewarded and dissent was brutally crushed.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Government-approved LOLs

Didja hear the one about the "No Free Sex" comedian?
The National Family Planning Coordinating Board on Thursday announced plans to capitalize on the rising popularity of stand-up comedy in Indonesia with a show of its own to promote family planning.
Sugiri Syarief, the head of the agency known as the BKKBN, said the organization would stage the “Planning Generation Comedy Show” from June 1 to 3 at Central Park Mall in West Jakarta.
“Our target is the younger generation, so our messages will be ‘say no to drugs,’ ‘say no to HIV/AIDS’ and ‘say no to free sex,’ ” he said, referring to pre-marital sex. 
It is not clear how many comics will perform, but Sugiri said they would represent the country’s 33 provinces. 
BKKBN secretary Sudibyo Alimoeso said the stand-up format was chosen to capitalize on the current comedy boom. 
“Stand-up comedy is gaining popularity on television stations. If we can weave in information [on family planning] into the jokes, it will be better received by the younger generation,” he said.
Sudibyo said sex- and family planning- related jokes were already common among Indonesian youth, but often they contained “false” claims and anecdotes about sex. That meant a comedy event was an appropriate venue to challenge myths and misconceptions about the subject.
Senior journalist and cultural expert Arswendo Atmowiloto, who will be the competition’s judge, said the jokes presented should be within the boundaries of what is acceptable in Indonesia. 
“It is impossible to do stand-up about family planning without talking about sex, but there are cultural issues. As long as it is not presented vulgarly, I think it is still acceptable,” Arswendo said. 
BKKBN chairman Sugiri that said prior to the event, each comic would be briefed about what messages they must and must not convey.
You won't see that on the Globe's website until at least midday, though, for reasons I can't even begin to explain.

Government-approved comedy telling young people not have take drugs or have sex? Telling comics what messages they must and must not convey? Clearly these people have misjudged the entire ethos behind stand-up comedy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Don't say si; say oui

Of course, this is much funnier if you saw the old Pink Panther cartoons and remember The Inspector's repartee with Sgt. Deux-Deux.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Nothing's gonna stop me now

Is it advertising? Yes. Is it pushing a product I may not necessarily want to buy? Yes. Do I care? Not in the least.

Perfect Strangers: The Video Game has been bookmarked and playing on my laptop for the last, oh, 12 hours or so. A little piece of my childhood is out on DVD, and it's a perfect excuse to post -- not do -- the Dance of Joy.

Sing along now....

Tuesday, May 1, 2012