Living the life… like an idiot

A friend of mine constantly criticises me for being ignorant in certain topics. But, instead of giving me evidences that prove my ignorance, he simply advises me to ‘live the life’.

Of course, there are two problems with that.

First, the phrase ‘live the life’ is obnoxious. When my friend says that, I know he means I should leave the house more often and do things other than staying at home, watching Youtube videos. But, technically, me enjoying online entertainment means I am living the life. Saying that I am not is as self-righteous as saying Marvel films are not cinema.

Second, what he is basically saying is I need to have more anecdotes. Unless you are a Lauren Southern wannabe (which many humans are), you know damn well that understanding the world  requires something more concrete than our personal experiences. I use a lot of anecdotes in my blogs and I admit that they make my writings argumentatively weaker.

Virtually every person I have interacted with has implemented my friend’s advice… and I can certainly say many of them are more ignorant and immature than I am.

Almost all of them believe in pseudosciences and easily fall for conspiracies and hoaxes.

Lots of them believe popularity defines quality. Therefore, they believe popular people and things should and always be respected.

Many of them do not know how to handle contentions. They, even older people, will resort to childish attacks against me and they always fail to provide refuting evidences; for them, their old ages prove that they are right and I am wrong.

One Muslim activist, who has supposedly dealt with a wide range of nasty people and learned how to deal with fellow human beings, thought the proper way to silence my harsh criticism against her was to criticise my profile picture.

Not only teachers gave me wrong information, some of them even inserted their literally-interpreted religious beliefs into the lessons.

People who have travelled all over the world and have interacted with people of highly contrasting backgrounds can still end up as identity-politics-loving bigots.

And I haven’t taken a shot at complete strangers yet.

In Indonesia, our current coordinating minister of human development and culture suggests that wealthy people marrying the poor will eliminate poverty.

A nutritionist working for the Indonesian Child Protection Commission introduced the Indonesian public to the urban legend of getting impregnated while swimming.

The mayor of Indonesian city of Tangerang, who has a master’s degree in healthcare administration, once claimed that instant noodles and babies formula milk turned babies gay.

The current Indonesian health minister says prayer is the be-all and end-all protection against the COVID-19 viruses.

When campaigning for the gubernatorial election, the incumbent governor of Jakarta once said a city would still beautiful even with the presence of slums.

The current minister of education had to teach the MPs what competence assessment was.

In America, there are medical professionals who openly oppose compulsory vaccinations, despite the scientifically-proven importance of herd immunity.

Despite his years of experiences as a science communicator, Neil deGrasse Tyson still tactlessly tweeted about how Americans should not be emotionally-invested in mass shootings because of the relatively low death rate.

A University of Oklahoma journalism professor, someone who is supposedly competent in words usage, thoughtlessly compared the word ‘Boomer’ to the N-word.

Donald Trump, a supposedly successful businessman who graduated from an Ivy League university, does not know how tariffs work, does not know how to create deals without pissing off the other parties and does not know how to speak like an educated adult.

Marketing and PR professionals, who supposedly know how to read the fucking rooms, still end up with insensitive and tactless ideas.

I can do this all day.

What makes this even more frustrating is that my friend and I LOVE to bash those idiots. In fact, much of our interactions revolve around that activity!

If he simply told me to ‘live the life’ because I need to fulfil my basic human needs, I would be okay with it. Instead, he had to embellish the advice with this pseudo-philosophy.

I have done things outside my house… and frankly, they teach me nothing.

I used to take various extracurricular activities like Bridge and basketball (the latter was forced by mom). I used to attend more family gatherings and I actually tried hanging out with other students in my senior high school.

And I learned nothing from those activities.

The extracurricular activities taught me nothing. Bridge taught me nothing about the importance of competitions, cooperations and strategy. Basketball taught me nothing about the importance of physical fitness and the joy of exercising. My interactions with relatives and school mates did not teach me social skills and did not teach me the joy of human interactions.

In fact, my interactions with fellow human beings fed me pseudoscientific and problematic views, which I gobbled up easily. All of my moments of realisation occurred when I was alone.

If it wasn’t for my solitary reflections and my time spent online and writing, I would have never realised how piece of shit I was (still am).

I would never knew how gullible, immature, pretentious and self-righteous I was. I would never knew how pseudoscientific and problematic most of my views were.

Thanks for my ‘not-living-the-life’ lifestyle, I have learned to accept that life is inherently grey and will always be, regardless of my attempt to pigeonhole it.

I have learned to accept that my words, including the ones in this ranty essay, will definitely bite my ass in the future.

If I do the so-called ‘live the life’ lifestyle, I am certain that not only I would never improve as a person, I would probably end up becoming an even more horrible individual.

It is not far-fetched to say that my old self had the chance of becoming a religious extremist or someone who spreads harmful pseudoscientific beliefs.

 

 

 

 

I don’t know exactly why they exist. But, they intrigue me

 

I am talking about the opening ceremonies of multi-sports events. Considering I am too lazy to do some research, I will make my own obviously-invalid conjecture about how they came into being.

It seems the elaborateness started on the 1980 Summer Olympics held in Moscow. I assume the USSR tried to compensate for its human rights violations and impoverished populace by bringing out the ‘positivity’ that was the opening ceremony.

I have that assumption because it is no secret countries all over the world, even ones more well-off than the USSR, actively bearing deceptively friendly and warm facades on the international stage. No matter how free and peaceful their countries are, they all need propaganda… and opening ceremonies of multi-sports events make a really good one.

They are the only propaganda I willingly fall for. They are the only reason why I care for some sporting events and they also successfully instil suspension of disbelief into my mind; every time I watch the ceremonies, I am willing to pretend that the host countries are all-perfect, albeit temporarily.

I have made reviews for the opening ceremonies of Asian Games and Para Games 2018 (simply because I am an Indonesian, obviously). Don’t know why it took me a long to review the summer olympics ones.

I will focus on the ones held in Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro, in that order. They are the summer olympics openings I have watched in their entirety.

I know I could have waited for the Tokyo one. But, I want to write this down now.

2000 Sydney

There are three things that I love about this edition: Deep Sea Dreaming segment, Nature segment and James Morrison’s Jazzy fanfare.

I love the two segments because the combination of playful and colourful visuals with soothing orchestral soundtracks result in an ethereal spectatorship. I love the fanfare because of how its energetic sounds compliment the atmosphere of a sporting event.

But, the rest of the ceremony is tacky and problematic.

In contrast to those two specific segments, the others seem to be designed solely to hype up the audience. The segment titled Arrivals even goes so far to exhibit extremely sparse visual and prefers to give spotlight to the kitsch upbeat techno music!

One of my media studies lecturers also pointed out the whitewashing in the Tin Symphony segment. Instead of showcasing the hardship of the British convicts sent to Australia, it only depicts happy early European settlers.

I also pointed to her that throughout the ceremony, one can see the Aboriginal performers observing the performances from afar. It can be interpreted either as a commentary of how Australian Aboriginals are excluded from their country’s festivities OR as a subtle middle finger to them.

It might not be ill-intentioned. But, combined with the historical whitewashing, it can send a wrong message.

2004 Athens

The conclusion unfortunately feels cold and I think the use of trance music during the parade of nations emits an off-putting vibe of self-indulgence. But, at the same time, it is the most artistic and thought-provoking opening ceremony ever… and I said that without any sense of exaggeration.

The Allegory segment really does live up to its name. It is a dream sequence (and I am a sucker for dream-like atmospheres) which features a giant, floating Cycladic head sculpture breathtakingly arising from the body of water with geometric imagery projected onto it. Then, the sculpture breaks into pieces, revealing a more sophisticated sculpture of a human torso inside… which breaks again, revealing another human torso sculpture. A white cube also arises from the water with a man tries to balance himself on it, all while images of human beings and humanity’s achievements projected onto the sculpture’s broken pieces. The segment ends with the pieces land on the water, representing the Greek islands.

Basically, it is an allegory about the evolution of human civilisations and present-day Greece is one of the starting points. I adore this segment for its skilful storytelling with no expositions needed. Anyone with basic knowledge in history will easily get it.

The Clepsydra segment is also a unique segment. It depicts Greek history and mythology. But, how they are depicted struck me. It took me some time to realise the moving things on those carts were not animatronics, they were actual people with painted bodies who deliberately moved like animated sculptures!

It is refreshing from the usual routine of performers wandering all over the venue. It feels less like watching an entertainment show and more like visiting a museum; for someone who loves visiting museums, it is certainly a strength.

I always wonder about the performers: were they dancers, actors or models? I thought about those three professions because they clearly require mastery of our body languages.

The presence of Björk, a musician known for her intense musical exploration, surely bolsters the event’s overall artistry as well.

2008 Beijing

I know people will rip me for this (as if my essay will ever blow up): this edition is too overrated.

The more mature I get, the more I see how tacky it is. In fact, it is as tacky as the Sydney one. No regard for aesthetic, only for the audience’s desire for eye candy.

Okay, it is a bit unfair. The Beijing edition is certainly more grandiose and therefore, requires more discipline from the performers. Disciplined enough to work as a large collective, but still manage to look like humans instead of robots.

2012 London

Aesthetic wise, I am not that impressed. Many of the choreographies (excluding the one in the 7/7 tribute) are either awkward or basic. The one in the children’s literature segment looks like it was created by an amateur.

The event is also another pander express. It chooses to showcase the United Kingdom’s most famous aspect of life: pop culture. Of course, I do understand why the focus is not on British heritage or history; the former may be boring to non-Brits and the latter is associated with colonialism and must be executed with great tact. Pop culture is a safe choice. But, it makes the entire ceremony feels like a commercially-produced British TV show.

Strangely, I also think it has emotional profundity lacking in the other editions. The joy, the grief, the sense of wonder, they don’t feel artificial. They feel sincere.

I wonder if it has something to do with the nature of British entertainment.

From what I observe, American and Indonesian ones (especially when one talks about ‘reality’ TV shows) can be forceful with the emotions; they love to dictate the audience on what to feel. British entertainment, on the other hand, prefers to let them speak for themselves and it is always transparent about their absence.

Obviously, my statement is too simplistic as exceptions does and will always exist. But, from my personal experiences, Indonesian and American entertainment constantly annoy me with their overt-sentimentality which always comes across as insincere; British one barely annoys me like that.

2016 Rio de Janeiro

I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with this edition.

It has eye-catching visuals, it has upbeat music… and yet, it feels anaemic. It reminds me of a person who tries to put a lively and energetic facade when deep down, he/she in favour of calmness and quietness. I have such observation because the calmer segments work rather well.

My God, the environmentalist message. Why does it have to be so on-the-nose? When will people realise that blatant messages in the arts and entertainment are fucking off-putting? How will this make people accept that humans are a a part of nature and not above it?

The only thing I like about the ceremony is the acknowledgement of Brazil’s history of slavery. I love it because such acknowledge is refreshing to any countries… and because it is actually goddamn subtle and not dependent on any fucking bullshit expositions!

Which editions are my favourites?

The Athens and London ones, if you can’t tell.

Instead of completely pandering to the masses as the creative director of the Athens edition, Dimitris Papaioannou maintained his identity as an artist. Creators must be commended for that because, whether we want to admit it or not, the members of the audience were benefited by non-escapist and artistic presentations and having their horizon widened even further. Considering the global significance of the olympics, Papaioannou did millions of people a favour by compelling them to stay ‘switched on’, albeit only for a while.

And yes, I am making a big deal out of the London edition’s emotional sincerity. It is just that I am deeply revolted by the synthetic emotionality which many creatures prefer over the organic one; they prefer the former because they think being obvious equals being sincere. Running into the latter is such a nice, rare treat.

But, do you what is nicer? Fusing both strengths into one.

Can you imagine watching an opening ceremony that makes you think and feel? Right now, I can only yearn for such gratification.

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Creating brilliant and cultured human resources in Indonesia

Note:

I initially wanted to submit this essay, which was originally written in Indonesian, to a writing contest. But, because of technicalities, I missed the deadline. Oh, well.

When one talks about the quality of human resources, education is often the first thing that comes to our minds.

It is true that education is the biggest factor. Quality education equals quality human resources. But, what do we mean by quality education?

We all agree discipline is crucial in our learning experiences and, as a nation, we are from disciplined. It would be bizarre to dispute that.

But, what I am going to say will be contentious. I am not sure if many of you will agree with me.

If I say we need to respect those who are more knowledgeable and more experienced than us, you would nod in agreement. But, the problems is many still believe ‘respect’ and ‘worship’ are synonymous with each other.

We love to make Gods out of those people, forgetting they are also ordinary human beings who are prone to any faults. They can make mistakes in their ways of thinking. They may also have ulterior motives and intentionally deceive others for their own benefits.

But, at the same time, we also have the guts to accuse the experts of being know-it-alls. We look down on knowledge and critical thinking. We are proud of our own ignorance and stupidity.

To overcome this issue, we have to teach the incoming generations to think more critically and to be more analytical. Moreover, we have to instill the sense of curiosity, humility and courage to resist falsehood, especially the one regurgitated by people of higher social standings.

If this suggestion is implemented, I am willing to bet the incoming generations would not only possess brilliant minds, but also would not want to trample and be easily trampled on by other people.

I also have another suggestion, a more abstract one: teaching them about the nation’s traditional cultures.

Obviously, many will agree with me. I am definitely not the first Indonesian citizen who yearn about conserving our cultural heritages. But, you must be wondering: what does this have anything to do with human resources?

If a country preserves its traditional culture, it would have a unique identity. If it is blessed with rich cultural diversity, the distinctiveness would be even more striking. If a country has a unique identity, it would be able to create works which are very unlikely to be created elsewhere. In the end, it would stand out on the international stage.

Even if you are an Indonesian who has been culturally westernised and who perceives traditions as backward entities, you would still be benefited by knowing your ancestral heritage.

Besides learning about the history of your ancestors, you would also learn about the life philosophy they held on to. As a result, you would encounter perspectives that you have never considered before. Ideally, you would expand your horizon… and, when combined with good reasoning, you would have easier time generating groundbreaking ideas.

Of course, you could have refuted my suggestion by stating that my dream can be fulfilled without studying Indonesian cultures. But, as I stated before, uniqueness is key.

Western cultures are already emulated all over the world. If you fix your gaze solely towards the west, your ideas would not be different from the ones initiated by foreigners. If the works of Indonesians are similar to the foreign ones, why should other countries make use of Indonesian human resources?

Yes, Indonesians with sufficient skills can still get hired by foreigners. But, if we are only good in professions in which our duty is to simply obey our bosses and/our clients, we would only excel behind the scenes.

Obviously, those behind-the-scenes jobs are also crucial to our lives which we all reap benefits from. Maybe you are already satisfied by our fellow countrymen’s behind-the-scenes success. But, I am not.

As important as those professions are, they can be done by every country on earth. Meanwhile, the ones in which we become the stars on the international stages have been proven difficult to attain. Very few countries have achieved high level of innovation and creativity.

The more we raise Indonesians who are capable of producing ingenious ideas, the easier it would be for us to be take centre stage internationally…

…and, once that is achieved, we as a nation would have successfully used all of our might to achieve a level of triumph which most countries on earth have yet to obtain.

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Menciptakan SDM yang cemerlang dan berbudaya

Catatan:

Sebenarnya saya berencana untuk menyerahkan karangan ini untuk perlombaan menulis. Tetapi, karena permasalahan teknis, saya melewati tenggat waktu. Ya, sudahlah.

Jika kita membicarakan mutu SDM, satu hal yang sering terbesit di pikiran kita adalah pendidikan.

Memang betul pendidikan dapat dikatakan sebagai unsur terpenting dibalik SDM. Pendidikan bermutu, SDM juga akan bermutu. Tapi, apa yang kita maksud sebagai pendidikan bermutu?

Kita semua setuju bahwa disiplin sangatlah penting di pendidikan dan sebagai bangsa, kita jauh dari disiplin. Saya rasa akan aneh jika ada orang yang mau menyanggah pernyataan tersebut.

Tetapi, hal-hal yang akan saya bicarakan mungkin akan menyulut perdebatan. Saya tidak yakin bahwa anda semua akan setuju dengan saya.

Jika saya berkata kita perlu menghormati sosok-sosok yang jauh lebih berilmu dan berpengalaman, banyak dari anda yang akan mengangguk setuju. Tetapi, banyak manusia yang menganggap penghormatan dan penyembahan adalah dua hal yang sama.

Kita cenderung menuhankan sosok-sosok tersebut, lupa bahwa mereka juga manusia-manusia biasa yang juga rentan terhadap kelalaian dan kesesatan. Mereka bisa saja melakukan kesalahan dalam pemikiran mereka. Mereka bisa saja memiliki maksud-maksud tersembunyi dan dengan sengaja membohongi orang lain demi keuntungan sendiri.

Tetapi, pada saat yang bersamaan, kita juga berani-beraninya menuduh para pakar tersebut sebagai orang-orang yang sok tahu. Kita memandang rendah ilmu dan pemikiran kritis. Kita bangga akan ketidaktahuan dan kebodohan kita sendiri.

Untuk mengatasi ini, kita harus mengajari generasi yang mendatang cara-cara berpikir dengan kritis dan meneliti dengan seksama. Lebih penting lagi, kita harus menanamkan rasa keingintahuan, kerendahan diri dan keberanian untuk menentang kebohongan, terutama bila kebohongan tersebut keluar dari mulut sosok-sosok yang berderajat tinggi.

Jika usulan tersebut dilaksanakan, saya berani bertaruh generasi yang akan datang akan menghasilkan SDM yang tidah hanya berotak cemerlang, tapi juga tidak mau menginjak dan dinjak-injak orang lain.

Saya juga punya satu usulan lagi, usulan yang jauh lebih abstrak: mendidik mereka tentang kearifan budaya-budaya tradisional bangsa.

Tentu saja, banyak yang akan setuju dengan usulan saya. Saya sudah pasti bukan satu-satunya warga negara Indonesia yang ingin melestarikan warisan kebudayaan. Tapi, anda pasti bertanya apa hubungannya warisan budaya dengan SDM.

Jika sebuah negara giat melestarikan budaya tradisionalnya, berarti ia memiliki jati diri yang sangat khas; jika negara tersebut diberkahi keragaman budaya yang kaya, kekhasan tersebut akan semakin terasa. Jika negara memiliki jati diri kebangsaan yang khas, ia dapat mencetuskan karya-karya yang kemungkinan besar tidak bisa dihasilkan oleh negara-negara lain. Pada akhirnya, negara menjadi menonjol di pentas mancanegara.

Walaupun anda adalah warga negara Indonesia yang sudah sangat kebarat-baratan dan menganggap tradisi sebagai sesuatu yang terbelakang, mengenali kebudayaan nenek-moyang masih bisa bermanfaat.

Selain memelajari sejarah kehidupan mereka, anda juga dapat memelajari filsafat hidup yang mereka pegang teguh. Alhasil, anda menemui sudut-sudut pandang yang belum pernah anda pertimbangkan. Idealnya, wawasan anda semakin luas…. dan, jika ditambah dengan penalaran yang tajam, semakin mudah bagi anda untuk meluncurkan gagasan-gagasan mutakhir.

Bisa saja anda menangkis usulan saya dengan mengatakan angan-angan saya bisa diraih tanpa memelajari kebudayaan Indonesia. Tetapi, seperti yang saya katakan sebelumnya, kekhasan adalah unsur penunjang.

Kebudayaan yang berbau kebarat-baratan sudah “diteladani” di seluruh dunia. Jika anda hanya berkiblat ke arah barat, gagasan anda tidak akan begitu berbeda dengan yang dicetuskan orang-orang asing. Jika karya-karya anak bangsa tidak begitu berbeda dengan karya-karya luar negeri, untuk apa bangsa-bangsa lain mendayagunakan SDM dari Indonesia?

Sebenarnya bisa saja warga-warga Indonesia diperkerjakan oleh orang-orang asing selama keterampilan kita memadai. Tetapi, jika kita hanya andal di bidang-bidang pekerjaan di mana tugas merek hanya sekedar melaksanakan perintah atasan dan/atau pelanggan, kita hanya akan berguna “di belakang layar”.

Tentu saja bidang-bidang pekerjaan tersebut sangatlah penting bagi kehidupan kita dan hasilnya selalu kita nikmati. Mungkin saja anda sudah cukup puas dengan keberhasilan orang-orang Indonesia di balik layar. Tapi, bagi saya, keadaan tersebut masih belum cukup memuaskan.

Sepenting-pentingnya mata pencaharian tersebut, semua itu dapat dilakukan oleh setiap negara di dunia. Sedangkan mata pencaharian di mana kita bisa menonjol di depan layar mancanegara sudah terbukti sulit dilaksanakan dengan sukses. Hanya segilitar negara yang telah sukses melakukan pembaruan dan daya cipta yang tinggi.

Semakin banyak kita menghasilkan anak-anak bangsa yang bisa mencetuskan gagasan-gagasan mutakhir, semakin mudah bagi kita untuk bisa tampil di depan layar mancanegara…

…Dan, setelah hal itu tercapai, kita telah berhasil mengerahkan ketangkasan bangsa kita ke jenjang kejayaan yang belum berhasil diraih oleh sebagian besar bangsa di dunia.

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How to report problem countries

Obviously, every country is a problem country. And yes, including the so-called number one country, the so-called United States of America.

In this context, I am referring to countries like Iran and North Korea which are known for their severe human rights violations and have been extensively and negatively covered by foreign (mostly western) media.

  • I hate sugar-coating. I believe exposing the factual negative aspects of certain countries is not inherently hateful; there is nothing wrong about sticking to the truth.
  • But, it can be hateful when we insist the coverage must be entirely negative and are offended by the idea of showcasing genuine positivity because we want to keep affirming any prevailing preconceived notions.
  • I first noticed this when I watched the North Korean episodes of Departure, a traveling TV show which focuses less on the destinations and more on the journeys; they received backlashes for allegedly spewing pro-North Korea propaganda.

    Correct me if I am wrong. But, from my knowledge, a country’s propaganda should brag about its non-existing divine perfection and work as the ruling government’s ideological mouthpiece.

    Departure does none of those things.

    While the hosts did not mention the human rights violations of the countries they visited, they also never tried to paint them in an entirely positive light.

    The show is entirely non-political. The hosts only care about exploring nature and interacting with the locals; the latter is the theme of the North Korean episodes.

    If anything, I believe the show does the ordinary and unprivileged ordinary North Koreans a great favour.

    Because of the lack of political agenda, the white Anglo-Canadian hosts had no problems interacting with a group of East Asians who grew up isolated from the rest of the world. The resulting interactions were wonderfully wholesome.

    The episodes do not depict cultural clashes, they depict people who enjoy each other’s presence despite the linguistic and cultural barriers.

    They depict humans who see each other as fellow human beings.

    But, some people didn’t like it. They believed the only way to give the North Koreans a favour was to focus entirely on the system that oppressed them.

    I disagree with that belief.

    North Korea is not just an obscure country that most people haven’t heard of; they have, albeit sometimes mistaking it for its sibling down south. Because of that, negative media coverage is not only common, it is over-saturated.

    The over-saturation results in the dehumanisation of the North Korean people. Let’s face it: most of us don’t see North Korea as a country where fellow humans live, they see it as a giant oppressive machine that must be destroyed at all cost.

    And, whether you believe or not, this kind of dehumanisation already has a negative effect on the state of humanity.

    It is not a secret that many people, especially neoconservative westerners, support invasions of repressive countries like North Korea without any regards of innocent casualties; I mean, if they really care, they would not get aroused by the idea of violent invasions and would not perceive any innocent casualties as mere “collateral damage”.

    While I don’t pay as much attention to it, I also notice the same thing with how western media treats Iran.

    The humanisation of the Iranian people is way more well-received. But, unfortunately, the demand for dehumanisation prevails among the politically-outspoken degenerates.

    Many still refuse to see Iran as a place where humans live… which is why, just like in the case of North Korea, they are not hesitant to support violent military interventions against it.

    I do have my own solution to deal with this problem. But, not only it is made by a non-expert, it is also rather tricky to implement.

    If a country has been almost entirely negatively reported by foreign media and you want to make a documentary (or something similar) about it instead of a normal news report, there are two things you can do.

    The first thing you can do is to cover positive things about said country and tell the world its previously unknown faces.

    And when I say “positive”, I mean genuinely so. They should be based on facts instead of the political establishments’ rhetorics. You have to make sure the presentation of positivity does not paint the country in an entirely positive light.

    Youtuber Louis Cole AKA FunForLouis made a series of vlogs of him and his friends visiting North Korea. Even though I was never subscriber, I was intrigued…. and was quickly disappointed.

    Obviously, I should watch the sequels as well. But, in the end of the first video, he said North Korea was not as bad as people claimed simply because he and his friends were greeted with a touristy welcome; at that moment, he seemed to perceive a choreographed performance as an excellent representation of the reality.

    I was already repulsed about those overtly-polished Youtube vlogs. Cole’s ignorant comment only intensified my repulsion.

    Departures has proven that, if you use your brain a bit more and don’t easily fall for deceptive veneers, you can shed a positive light on an oppressive country without becoming its government’s propaganda tool.

    But, if you are reasonable iffy about making positive coverage and still prefer to do a negative one, I have a second tip: find a fresh angle.

    If you keep repeating the same real life horror stories, the only thing you would be good at is affirming simplistic prejudgements about North Korea and discouraging outsiders from humanising the victims due to the lack of nuances.

    I think the Youtube channel Asian Boss does a great job in getting the fresh angles. Instead of treating their North Korean interviewees as propaganda tools to exploit, they treat them as individuals with human stories to tell.

    As a result, not only it results in ethically-dignified documentaries, it also unearths surprising facts about the country they are defecting from.

    For instance, even though the consumption of foreign media is prohibited in general, I did not know that consumption of South Korean media will result in more severe punishments than the consumption of western one. It confirms one of our preconceived notions…. but, in a rather complex way.

    I specifically said this tip is only for those who make documentaries and the likes and NOT for journalists who solely make daily and relatively short reports.

    Why? Because it is obvious that my tips, especially the second one, require in-depth analyses and cannot be simply done in less than a day or even a week.

    Well, they can. But, the results would be sloppy.

    Okay, I am aware of how horrible my suggestions are; not only I have zero experiences in the media industry, my words are not precise and technical enough to be practically useful. Heck, even if I am a highly-experienced professional, my suggestions would not be the be-all and end-all.

    But, even then, the unreliability of my tips does not mean the media industry is perfect as it is. Every person with functioning brain cells knows mediocrity and lacking integrity are embraced as virtues.

    Public discourses about the ethics of depicting authoritarian countries are almost non-existent and, for reasons I have mentioned in this essay, it is something to be reasonably angry about.

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  • My own museum ideas

  • I hate how I grew up in a country where we have an extremely weak museum culture. Most of the museums I have visited are abroad.
  • As an adult, I am no longer into having shopping malls and theme parks as my sources of leisure. If there are no cultural attractions that intrigue in the slightest, I would rather stay at home and watch Youtube videos…
  • ….And browse Wikipedia in where I have spent a significant amount time searching for every article about any museums.

    Being a major time-waster that I am, I now have a few ideas for museums which are not even original. But, if I have the financial means (and the skill and will), I would definitely establish them.

    Museums of hot sauces and fermented seafood.

    That’s my Indonesian tastebud talking.

    I grew up eating dishes which use fermented seafood as ingredients and were often accompanied by chili sauces, or sambal as we call them.

    I have always loved the taste of dried and salted fish. I used to hate hot foods. But now, even though my heat tolerance is still low for Indonesian standard, I am addicted to the hot flavours.

    It would not be a problem if the museums are Indonesia-centric. As the country is gifted with biological and cultural diversity, the museums’ collections would always be huge, assuming they are well-funded and well-managed.

    I am also open to the ideas of making the museums more international either by making a section dedicated to foreign content or making the entire collection international.

    But, my goals for each version differ from one another.

    If the collection is entirely Indonesian, I would want to remind Indonesians about the biological and cultural richness of their country and how the richness should be appreciated and NOT taken for granted.

    If the collection is international, I would want to remind everyone that despite our differences, we still have many things in common and our cuisines are not that different once we take a deeper look.

    I choose foods because every human eats. We can survive without the ability to play music, to dance or to show any forms of craftsmanship. But, we can’t survive without foods. Eating is universal.

    And because I personally love to eat.

    I don’t know where I should locate the museums, though. If they are Indonesia-centric, should I locate them in Jakarta, university cities like Bandung or Jogjakarta, or places with low cultural appreciations like my hometown?

    If they are international, I would definitely locate them in various countries. But, which countries I also don’t know.

    And no, I am not going to think about “maintaining” the perishable collections.

    Museums of Hollywood propaganda

    I think the name explains it and I don’t have to elaborate on why it is needed in the first place and I am focusing on propaganda in American entertainment.

    When it comes to locations, I would definitely establish one in Los Angeles, the headquarters of the industry. Of course, as it is the lions’ den, there will be lots of backlashes. Not to mention that studio executives might have connections in the government.

    Very risky. But, worth the shot.

    But, I am not satisfied about LA is its only location. The question is where else should we locate them?

    Should we choose other major, big cities like NYC, Chicago and Houston? Should we choose the nation’s capital? Should we choose certain university towns where anti-establishment attitude are rampant? Or should we choose urban areas known for unquestioning and zealous patriotism?

    If we want to branch out to other countries, which ones should we choose? Should they be America’s closest allies like Canada and the UK? Do the international locations even matter?

    Museums of human rights violations

    I am not talking about any human rights violations. I am talking about ones that are still controversial due to the persisting historical denialism and whitewashing.

    I am talking about cases like Armenian genocide, the Jewish Holocaust, the expulsion of Palestinians from their own lands, the atrocities committed by Japan in WWII, the 1965 violent anti-Communist purge in Indonesia, history of racism in Australia and the Americas and the coups committed by the US against democratically-elected governments in Iran and Latin America which were replaced with dictatorships.

    You know, topics of light conversations.

    When it comes to locations, I have to make sure they are not in countries where such museums can get shut down by the authorities.

    But, even if censorship is not a problem, I have to make sure at least one case from the host country is included in the exhibition. I want to give the impression to visitors that there is no such thing as angelic countries.

    It is also the reason why I want the museum to be dedicated to many cases instead of just one. It is a lot harder than dedicating to a single case. But, it is worth it.

    I also have to make sure it is located in localities which have lots of foreign tourists and residents. Those localities may include cities like NYC, Sydney, London and even world-famous university towns like Oxford, Cambridge, Stanford and Grenoble.

    I don’t want the learning immersion being mostly exclusive to citizens of one country. Every person, regardless of their national backgrounds, must have the opportunity to experience it.

    Yadda yadda yadda

    It is obvious that my ideas are not only unoriginal, they are also fantastical. I will never create a small museum, let alone a few big ones.

    But, I just can’t help churning my own ideas, even in fields where I don’t have any expertise in. Basically, every field in existence.

    It is fun to write down my fantastical ideas.

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    The real American power…

    … Is actually soft.

    I am referring to the concept of “soft power”, by the way. And no, I am not sorry for that shitty introduction.

    I keep seeing and hearing comments made by zealously patriotic Americans about how their beloved country is respected by the world because of its hard power.

    It is true to a certain extent. If you are one of those non-Americans who easily fall for American exceptionalism and who love jerking off to images of real life violence which America is responsible for while simultaneously getting unprotected, rough butt sex from America, you would drool over its hard power.

    But, most non-Americans aren’t like that. When their governments do bow down to the US, they do so out of not wanting to get screwed on the world stage and NOT out of genuine respect.

    Basically, projections of hard power, more of than not, are a form of bullying. Bullying with dire global consequences.

    But, do you know what people all over the world love? American culture.

    Experts of international relations have been arguing how affinity to foreign cultures will lead us to have more positive views of their countries of origin.

    And because of my own life experiences (which I have to assert as entirely mine), this is something I am not surprised about.

    Despite their constant criticism (bashing) of the USA, many of my fellow non-Americans (in this case, they are mostly Indonesians) can’t get themselves to wish literal death upon the country.

    And they all have one thing in common: they openly enjoy American culture.

    Apart from buying foods from American fast food restaurants and cafes, they go to cinemas mostly for Hollywood flicks, pay for cable TV to Hollywood TV shows and pay to attend concerts of American musicians.

    How about the propaganda present in Hollywood films?

    From what I notice, even some of the most dimwitted folks I know can easily acknowledge the propagandistic content of their sources of entertainment.

    They know that they don’t easily fall for the infamously shameless American propaganda and they also feel Americans can entertain the world like no others. That’s why they are relatively unperturbed about it.

    Me personally? A bulk of my favourite entertainers and artists are Americans; without them, I would have nothing but contempt for the United States of America.

    Oh, and I should say ordinary Americans also contribute to their country’s positive image.

    The last time I was surrounded by Americans, it was almost two decades ago when I visited the US as a young boy. I don’t remember interacting much with the locals.

    But, if one sees the anecdotes posted by many non-Americans online, they frequently perceive the Americans as friendly, easy-going, open-minded, educated and charitable people and often seen as the antitheses of the US government (somewhat debatable).

    The more negative anecdotes are often the results of interacting with the stereotypically jingoistic, war-mongering, fear-mongering, bubble-dwelling and proudly anti-intellectual Americans.

    You know, Americans like Donald “Make America Great Again” Trump.

    Americans who think their Godawful, alpha-wannabe attitudes will gain them genuine respect from the world.

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    Feminists and anti-feminists: a common ground

    *puts on a mask*

    Some people support feminism because they believe it is the most effective way to coerce women into embracing western liberal values.

    They shame women who willingly embrace modest fashion, who willingly choose to become stay-at-home moms, who willingly choose to become abstinent and who willingly choose to become/stay religious.

    Their reasoning? They want to liberate women from the oppressive and medieval eastern values, especially the Islamic ones.

    Some people oppose feminism because they want to protect women from western values and coerce them to keep embracing eastern values, particularly the Islamic ones.

    They shame women who willingly show the slightest appearances of their skin, hair and bodily curves, who willingly choose to be unmarried and childless and who willingly choose to have active sex lives.

    Their reasoning? They want to liberate women from the oppressive and overtly-sexualised western liberal values.

    I have to a suggestion for both feminists and anti-feminists:

    Why don’t you just make peace with each other?

    I mean, it is quite obvious how you actually have something in common with each other: you are advocating to take women’s right to think and act for themselves under the pretense of liberating them.

    Wouldn’t your goals become easier to achieve when you find a common ground with the “others” and form a gigantic and influential alliance?

    Together, you can oppress women to the fullest.

    *takes off the mask*

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    I support colonialism…..

    *puts on mask*

    … because I am insecure little bitch of a citizen who needs extreme empowerment.

    There is nothing more gratifying than the country I unwillingly was born into invade foreign territories and pretend they are destined by the universe to be ours.

    It is even more gratifying that colonialism can also destroy the cultures and economies of the colonies. That way, they can suffer from extreme cultural and economic dependence on the motherlands, giving them even greater power projection on the world stage.

    And I hate how my beloved country of Indonesia is not harsh enough in its colonisation of the Papuans.

    The problem is Indonesia’s official motto is Bhinneka Tunggal Ika. Unity in diversity. It forces us to wear a pluralistic mask, hiding the real face of our country.

    Why can’t we be just like the Americans, the English, the French and the Japanese in the old days? If they keep doing what they were doing, so-called “languages” like Hawaiian, Gaelic, Basque and Ainu would cease to exist and the world would be a better place.

    If it were my call, I would do my best to annihilate those savage Papuan “cultures” by punishing anyone who dare to embrace them and force the embrace of Javanese culture, which is inherently noble, wonderfully anti-egalitarian and is definitely a real, proper culture.

    Not only that, I would also encourage skin bleaching and plastic surgery to the Papuans who have the dignity of not wanting to be monkeys.

    Seriously, if people call you monkeys, it’s your fault for looking like ones.

    I also hate how the Papuan provinces are given political autonomy. Literally the only provinces that deserve it are the ones who embrace Javanese supremacy!

    If anything, not only I oppose the transfer of power, I also believe the Papuans should be stripped of their power to vote!

    As they are subhumans, they are unable to make any good decisions. Therefore, they should not be allowed to vote for the presidents and MPs!

    Heck, I even believe they should not choose their own mayors! Everything has to be entirely up to Jakarta!

    Of course, I have to be fair as well.

    Despite my criticism, I also have to praise my country for making Papuans too economically dependent on western Indonesia, to the point they have to survive the high living cost with their pathetically meagre incomes.

    Finally and most importantly, I also love how the government has successfully bred a morally-corrupt, violent and historically-illiterate citizenry.

    When Papuans committed riots after a racist incident, it did not take much time for many Indonesians to condemned them for rioting and not spending a single second on condemning the racists.

    Basically, they thought the Papuans were rioting for no good reasons. Hopefully, many probably still do.

    If I think about it, the pluralistic official motto is a great tool for Indonesia’s colonialism of western Papua.

    Most of us believe the official motto is the reflection of reality instead of a mere guidance. As a result, we see our country as the most tolerant and peaceful in the world despite its glaring bouts of sectarian violence.

    Not only that, we also fool ourselves into believing the falsehood about how Papuans prayed to be rescued by the peaceful and tolerant Indonesians from the colonialist and racist Dutch monsters, even though annexation can be executed without the people’s consent and is a common method used by colonial and imperial powers.

    We greatly mistreat the Papuans and then we gaslight them into believing that the mistreatments are societal well-being. Well-being they supposedly would have never enjoyed if they remain as Dutch subjects.

    While I hate how we are too soft on them, I have to acknowledge that we have been giving them the deserving fingers for decades.

    Now, it is time for us to give even more fingers.

    *takes off the mask*

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    Different types of Hasan Minhaj haters

    Yes, I am going to talk about his haters before I talk about him because of two simple reasons: 1. I am not done analysing him; 2. His haters are annoyingly hilarious to behold.

    Now, where do I start?

    Well, so far, I can place them into three separate boxes: Pro-Duterte Filipinos, pro-Modi and anti-Modi Indians and anti-Zionists, some of whom may be Muslims.

    Those Filipinos accuse him of trying to make their country look bad and India looks good in comparison. They also accuse him of trivialising the deaths caused by drug dealers and gang members.

    Those Indians accuse him of being a Pakistani agent and an Islamic extremist apologist. The Modi detractors among them think he makes the BJP even more powerful.

    Those anti-Zionists accuse him of not making an episode on Israel simply because he fears the pro-Israel US government.

    Some of the anti-Zionists also think he hates his fellow Muslims because he has shat too many times on his fellow Muslims.

    If you actually know him, you would know how stupid those accusations sound.

    Those particular Filipinos probably think his Indian lineage proves his anti-Filipino and pro-India biases.

    Not only it is racist, they also willfully ignore that he has talked more about India in his show than he has about the Philippines.

    I also don’t know how they think “tarnishing” their country’s international image instantly makes India’s looks good. Unless you have lived in both countries, you would NEVER instinctively compare the two with each other. They neither share the same roots nor they are physically side by side. And they certainly are not major rivals.

    He also has made episodes (plural) about sleazy pharmaceutical companies and the acts of violence committed around the world. He would be the last person to be apathetic about violent drug dealers.

    Pro-Modi Indians consider the combination of his anti-Hindutva stances and his Islamic background as a sign of his tolerance of Islamic extremism… even though his very first episode is about Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter of Islamic extremism.

    Anti-Modi Indians blame him for boosting BJP’s popularity right before the election… instead of actually blaming it on the Indians who are either supportive of the party or silent of the problems it poses. Blame the turds, NOT the ones who want to flush them away.

    Some Indians (I don’t know if they are pro or anti-Modi) also accuse him of being a Pakistani agent…. and their only “solid” evidence is his green and white hoodie he wore in the Indian cricket episode.

    That evidence is so ridiculous, I pray it is just a joke instead of an expression of sincere idiocy. Knowing humans, there is a high chance of it being sincere.

    Anti-Zionists think his silence on Israel is a sign of his cowardly submission to the US government… ignoring that the US government is the government he condemns the most; even his Saudi Arabia episode includes condemnation of the US government.

    It has been clear to me some of them are Muslims; they hate how he condemns his fellow Muslims a bit too often. Yes, he does shit on his fellow Muslims.

    But, he condemns those who commit religious extremism, which is a fucking good thing to do and you have to be an asshole to believe otherwise. He is unlike those so-called “reformers” who willingly throw their fellow believers under the bus just for the sake of being “palatable” to western reactionaries.

    If anything, he is all about empowerment as he often talks about American Muslims (and minorities in general) overcoming societal discriminations; his Netflix special heavily focused on this matter.

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    Obviously, my categories are grossly simplistic and inadequate. If I even bother to scroll down the comment sections more, I would have more well-thought-out categorisation.

    But still, I am surprised about the dearth of American right-wingers and Pro-Bolsonaro Brazilians on his videos’ comment sections.

    It is surprising because he often condemns the policies proposed and enacted by the GOP (even though the Dems are not spared from his condemnation) and he has made a video about the Brazilian Amazonian people, who loath Bolsonaro; many anti-Bolsonaro videos on Youtube, including John Oliver’s, suffer from unfavourable like-dislike ratio.

    This is not my first time witnessing a public figure’s detractors spewing accusations that are baseless and at odds with each other. But, this is the first time I am mindful of how pronounced the contradictions are.

    The fallacies are more frequently used while the prejudice and the ideological zealotry are more shamelessly naked. His haters are followers of the global trend.

    Even though I am not done with my “analysis” of him, I can confidently say one thing:

    The fact that he has ruffled the feathers of many parties and causing them to react irrationally shows he has done a really great job.

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