Are Islamophobes racist?

1mjntsyvj_sjtlysowv8btq

Some are and some aren’t. What? Did you expect me to answer either one?

Let me think. If they differentiate Islam from Muslims, they are not bigoted against us, not even the slightest. Frankly, I have no problem with Islamophobia. It is reasonable to fear ideas and/or their horrifying interpretations. In fact, I have been treated really well by Islamophobes. Let’s be real: calling them bigots is a blatant attempt to silent them.

If they hate Muslims just because they hate Islam, they are anti-Muslim bigots. They see us as a hoard of robots, not as human individuals of varying cultural, social, economic, political, psychological and denominational backgrounds. Calling them bigots is just pointing out the truth. But, are all of them racists? No, they are not. Muslims are not a race, we are a religious group.

But, the bigots give a living hell to Arab Christians and non-Muslim South Asians who supposedly look “Muslim”. But, it still not necessarily racist. The bigotry may be cultural; the turban, also worn by Sikhs, and the Arabic language, also spoken by Arab Christians, are always associated with Muslims. Yes, most Muslims do not wear turban and cannot speak Arabic. Cultural entities are not races.

What if the discrimination is based on skin colours and facial features? You can call that racism. Wait, no. That is racism! Some people are triggered with certain physical looks. Their extreme fear start taking over everything, including their common sense. Then, they start lashing on anyone who have “those looks”. It doesn’t matter if those people are Muslims or not. Brown skin is enough to make some people ‘Muslims’. The bigots (God, I keep using the word) will do anything to satisfy their sense of abomination against fellow human beings.

Muslim apologists don’t get the “Muslims are not a race” memo. But then, so do some bigots.

Youtube fans, haters and their imaginary prerogative

jZ8XCjpCQWWZ5GLhbjRAufsw3JXePHUJVfEvMH3D055ghq0dyiSP3YxfSc_czPhtCLSO=w300

I wrote an article about how Pewdiepie’s fans are horrible. I am fan myself and I have horrid experiences with fellow bros. But, I don’t know why I only focused on that one specific fandom when the others are equally horrid.

Maybe because Pewdiepie was and is currently the Youtuber I watch the most. Maybe because Pewdiepie fandom is so infamous. But then, it’s frustrating how we quickly dismiss the existence of his militant haters.

Haters. Like the zealous fandoms, they are one of Youtube’s cancers. Both are the extreme ends of the spectrum. Both are waste excreted from different orifices of a same person. Both also suffer the same disease: a bulging sense of entitlement.

They believe the entire Youtube community must kneel down and pleasure their nether regions. When excited, their genitalia boast non-existing expertise about what’s good for a group of diverse and many ‘unseen’ individuals. They express their excitement in different yet equally infuriating ways.

One sin that fans always do is forcing their Youtubers to be their besties. Yes, our Youtubers are NOT our friends. Their impacts to our personal lives are indeed inspiring. But, ours do not intertwine with theirs and probably never will. It’s still a tough truth to sell.

Fans want their favourite Youtubers stark naked and touch every inch of the bare skins as they desire. Their idols are nothing but emotionless piles of flesh, blood and bones who are destined to please the lustful ego of complete strangers. If they aren’t treated like sex toys, they are treated like puppets.

Retar…I mean, fans believe they are ever-powerful Gods and Youtubers are their subjects. They believe they have the complete creative control to the channels. Heck, they even think they can impose draconian rulings on the Youtubers’ personal lives! You can get attacked simply for dating the ‘wrong’ person (e.g. Jacksepticeye) or for not coming out (Joey Graceffa). Then, the haters chime in.

They declare themselves as being more sophisticated and more moral than the fandoms. In fact, they use this as a justification to hate certain Youtubers. Of course, that does not hold ground for two reasons:

First, Youtubers aren’t always responsible for their fans’ actions; some behaviours are simply beyond the former’s control. Second, the haters are equally rabid bunch of degenerates.

The most obvious haters’ sin is…their hate. They waste their precious time searching for Youtubers they hate, clicking their videos and posting cancerous comments. They even express their hatred in comment section of videos…created by different and sometimes unrelated Youtubers! What is their ‘rationale’ for this?

Well, they believe the expression of hatred will lead to the Youtubers’ downfall. Hatred will bring negative energy to their channels. In the end, destruction is inevitable. It does make sense…for the most simplistic of all minds. Instead of weakening them, the Youtubers end up getting stronger.

Clicking their videos literally means giving them more views. More views means more money. More money means more power. One can use money to obtain higher status and more fame! That’s the truth about life! Wait, that’s not all.

Haters also forget that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. I am a Pewdiepie fan because of the haters. They are the ones who introduce me to him! They keep spamming comment sections with his name. Curiosity made me check his channel and a bro I am now. I am genuinely grateful for the haters.

In fact, many of my fellow bros are! Giving lots of attention to Youtubers is almost akin to nourishing them with free ads. More subscribers also means more power. With many strangers adoring you, it is relatively easy to defend yourself. But, what if the attention does not give them more followers?

They may or may not get more. If they don’t, it still doesn’t matter. We often forget that Youtubers are media and communication people. They are savvy in both fields. They can use their fame their advantage. Their skill is their power. If they want to, they can topple world governments. Again, thank you hater, whose stupidity doesn’t stop there.

They love to denounce content creators of certain flaws. Obviously, valid criticism is important; everyone needs it to be a better individual, personally and professionally. But, the validity kills itself when the criticism is laced with hypocrisy.

They condemn the Youtubers they hate certain flaws…while openly praising their favourite Youtubers who clearly ALSO have those flaws! If you have a proudly blind sense of judgement, don’t get pissed when others dismiss your words; it’s their moral right. I am still not done, yet.

Those haters, no matter how annoying they are, are very harmless. Deal with them like one deals with overly-pampered toddlers. But, some are worryingly more dangerous as they bring their hatred to an atrocious level: slander.

They are so tightly cocooned by their hatred, their heads will come up with horrible lies, camouflaged them as truths and post them online. Unsurprisingly, they cannot present a single evidence to support their claims. Well, they think they can; for them, ‘hatred’ is literally the best evidence a person can have. Unfortunately, gullibility is a widespread social disease.

Present a handful of shit and a swarm of flies will gobble it up. They will do so either because it satisfies their repulsive, ingrained taste buds or they are simply starving and will devour anything they stumble on. Both are convinced of its supposedly refined taste. Then, they proceed to throw the shit to other people’s faces, including the slander victims.

One may say that slander is mere words; we should just ‘man up’ and not let ourselves hurt by it. Slander is literally harmless, they say. Well, that’s easy to say if you are not the victim.

Before Wall Street Journal falsely accusing him of anti-Semitism (and still haven’t apologised for it), Pewdiepie had been accused of stealing charity money and beating his own girlfriend. Even John Green of the Vlogbrothers was accused of being a sexual pervert who ‘loved’ teens. Those accusations are so horrible, they can potentially ruin lives. Haters who do this should be taken seriously.

So, what cause haters to do all of these? Well, as I said earlier, just like those rabid fans, haters have a bulging sense of entitlement. Like those fans, haters think everyone in the Youtube community are destined to be their personal slaves who indulge every single one of their desires. They literally cannot accept that they aren’t the only people who matter.

No, I am not saying that we should keep our mouths shut. We can, and should, give creative suggestions to our favourite Youtubers. Heck, I even believe we can give advices for their personal lives. Yes, it is true that Youtubers can’t live without us fans. But, we should also remember that we were attracted to them in the first place because of the uniqueness of their individuality.

We can, and should, also give stern criticism to the Youtubers we hate. Heck, I even believe we can give ‘harsh’ comments (mind the air quotes). But, our criticism should be bound by reasons and facts, not our feelings. The rule still applies even when they spit out shameless prejudice. Don’t be a hater. Don’t be an SJW. Be a critic.

Yes, I know that ‘traditional’ celebrities have also been harassed by rabid fans. But, digital media platforms like Youtube give wider access for us to interact with our idols; the wall between us and them is a a lot thinner. This digital metaphysics worries me. I fear that it makes us even more prone to suffer from delusions, believing that we have actual intimacy with our idols.

Speaking about the personal nature of Youtube, the website gives us freedom that ‘traditional’ media lacks: we can choose to watch any videos we want. Don’t like a Youtuber? All you have to do is to NOT clicking his/her videos! It’s that simple! You’re not forced to watch videos you hate.

Youtube does suggest you videos; even then, those videos are very likely related to the ones you frequently watch. Maybe they have similar styles or content. Maybe the creators are acquainted to the ones you are subscribing to. So, don’t get angry when you’re suggested videos of your hated Youtubers. In fact, you have so much freedom there, you literally have no reasons to be a hater.

I don’t know how end this article.

So, the end?

The night (and human stories)

free-city-night-vector
City night

I used to hate the night. Every time it came, we had to retreat inside. Grown-ups said it was for our protection.

They claimed the night releases the worst creatures, supernatural and not, to roam the streets. You know, the kind of creatures that abduct children…because reasons. Once abducted, the chances were you would disappear forever. Children, always one of the easiest targets.

Well, the adults’ words were not completely alarmist. People do get terribly harmed at night. But, the real stories I’ve heard mostly involve adult victims. Even then, many more took place during daytime.

Don’t let the sunshine fools you. It conceals the underlying menace that also prosper under the sun. The daytime is as dangerous as the nighttime. Actually, no. It’s a lot more dangerous.

It’s the time where we let ourselves unguarded. Bright colours, upbeat sounds and vibrant human activities. With those around us, what could have gone wrong? Well, everything that parents fear will happen to their children.

Almost every real-life horror story (at least, the ones I’ve personally heard), including the ones that involve young children, happened under the sun’s cheerful watch. That’s why sunlight is the only reason why I love daytime. Very trivial, unlike the reason why I love the night.

(That’s a warning for my incoming pretentiousness, btw. Maybe I should make more such warnings in the future).

One night, me and my family were heading back home late at night. The streets of Jakarta were uncharacteristically calm. Usually, such physicality would evoke either of these feelings from me: boredom and fear.

The boredom ensued when I was inside any vehicles. I looked through the windows and thought how boring it was to be a creature of the night. Unless you live in a sleepless city, lifelessness would be your only friend. But, exit the metal cocoons and everything changed.

Fear emerged and gained control. I felt I was in constant peril. I could get ambushed by anyone or anything. The shadows of urban edifices were their perfect hiding spots. Tried to be more alert…and ended up paranoid instead. But, on that night, I had a brand new sentiment: curiosity.

The calmness unveiled fragments of urban life that I previously failed to notice, thanks to all of those rush hours’ havoc. Yes, I just blamed my mental oblivion on my surrounding. That’s cute. If I tried a wee bit more, I would have made this discovery much earlier. So, what did I discover?

The ‘lifeless’ night is very much alive. Unlike the day, it is a lot more discreet in its self-expression. Want the urban goodies? Don’t expect them to hand over themselves to you. Put on some more efforts. Explorers, you have to be. You can start by open your literal eyes wider.

From inside the car, I could occasionally see other vehicles. I even saw pedestrians walking either alone or in small groups. Even at its sleepiest, cities still have people roaming around. As I’m typing this, I realised something.

Even if I was the only living creature around, asserting the supposed lifelessness is a distortion of reality. My mere presence is a sign of life! I forgot that I was a living creature all this time. Me as the only one is not lifelessness. It’s so obvious, it hurts.

On that night of realisation, me and my family were coming back from a concert. We were deeply allured because it was a live performance. Our minds were more aesthetically charged. What we felt was so abstract and impossible to describe simplistically. We were metaphysically vibrant and had grand things to offer.

Assume the same thing from every night commuter/traveler. Besides concerts and the likes, they all have reasons to be out that late. They may be night shifts workers. Not all of us know how it feels to be one and they can share their experiences.

Those people may have things bugging their minds. Late night strolling present them the time, space and atmosphere to obtain the mental remedies. Obviously, we should respect their privacy. But, they have rich personal lives of their own. This is just the humans on the street.

One can still find eateries serving hungry customers at this hour. I don’t know about you. But, they are invisible to me during rush hours, drowned among the sea of moving metals, over-stressed anthropoids and an assortment of health hazards.

In Indonesia, those eateries tend to be greasy spoons, serving some of my favourite foods. It’s preposterous how I failed to locate good foods from miles away. They are not hidden, anyway. But, some things, to some extent are always so.

We presume the vibrant night life only occur recreational venues. Admittedly, some do have restricted access. But, their presence are still very public and their night life are still within our grasps. Some public places aren’t so during the night.

They are always closed after dark. But, we often forget about the employees who work overtime for various reasons. Reasons like the need for extra cash, more time to improve their works, deep love for their occupations…or compensating their lonesome personal lives and needing an excuse to avoid their homes, more godforsaken than abandoned cemeteries.

Anyway…

Overtime working process isn’t public. But, most of us can relate. We have experienced working beyond the regular hours. Even students with barren résumés can relate to an extend. If that and nocturnal recreational venues are partially reachable, there is one area where access is even more restricted: private homes.

One boring, ultra-conformist person alone can tell many unique stories, let alone a house with a myriad of differing occupants. After work and study, they passed on much of the storytelling energy to their homes, where they have a tiny, invitation-only audience.

A sprinkling of those exclusive tales can be retold to acquaintances or even strangers. But, one essential requirement is ought to be fulfilled: their retelling should not violate the personal lives of any living characters involved. Whether the deceased ones must be ‘respected’ or the stories must have social merit, I’m still wrangling about.

Most of them fail to fulfill the principal requirement. Therefore, they should always be perpetually buried. Unless you’re among the pivotal characters, you do not deserve the uncut and raw unveiling. Those stories are as intimate as private sex tapes. Yes, I dare to make that analogy.

In the end, we should acknowledge the constant spiritedness of our surrounding. Easier said than done. It’s very easy for us to enter the ‘boredom’ realm. But, if we just try to get to know our fellow beings on a deeper level, we would have a better understanding of the world. I love to point out the obvious.

(Yes, yes. I did mention about respecting privacy. What I am trying to say is we should have a disciplined sense of curiosity. Slack a bit and it’ll become nosiness. With the self-discipline, you can satisfy your curiosity honourably. No excuse to be a papparazzo. Again, I love pointing out the obvious.)

Also, we should enhance our regard for the night-time. Not only it provides us daily interludes, it removes almost every single distraction from the daytime. It presents us the chance to unearth anything we usually take for granted. It also compels us to grasp the idea that serenity is not lifelessness.

God, I almost forgot. Surely, not everyone is a social butterfly. I know because I am not one. How do people like me get interesting human stories? Well, we interact with lifeless objects.

They do not think or feel. But, at some moments in their life, they have interactions with humans. What the humans do to or with the objects make interesting stories. They can be inspiring, revolting or unemotional, just like the ones we got from the actual humans themselves. One can still achieve human connections from solitude. Human understanding is not and should not exclusive to extroverts.

Rogue One: (un)appreciation of heroism (a very late review)

*spoiler alert*

star-wars-rogue-one-cast.jpg

This is literally my first Star Wars film. I wasn’t interested in the franchise. If I want to try new art and entertainment, I focus on the premise rather than its celebrity or cult status. Honestly, Star Wars’ premise doesn’t interest me.

Basically, it’s another case of good vs. evil. The marginalised vs. the powerful ones. Battle scenes. I know I sound ignorant. But, that’s the impression I get from the film. Correct me if I am wrong. Of course, I still have other reasons to try the franchise.

First of all, Harry Potter’s not a completely original franchise either. It has traits shared by many other stories. But, I’ve been a pothead for years and I can see myself as one in the future. If I can love derivative HP, why not Star Wars?

Also, Star Wars is sci-fi. I have a soft spot for speculative genres. From my lenses, they can get deep easily and unpretentiously. I like that. I can’t stand self-righteous entertainment. Another reason to try Star Wars.

So, when I had the chance to watch it, I took it. Not disappointed at all.

Quality wise, it’s unexceptional. K-2SO is the only character that I like. The human ones don’t attract me. I’m neither annoyed nor compelled by them. That hinders the immersion. But, the most important aspect of the film is its ending….which makes me conflicted.

It is supposed to be sad. But, the emotions existed briefly before immediately swept under the rug. Like, why? Our heroes are dead. They die before they reach the happy ending. I should not have feelings about that? Seriously? What are they? Chopped liver? Why don’t the filmmakers celebrate the deaths as well? Oh, look! Dead heroes! Woohoooo!! Pop the champagne!!

*takes a deep breath*
As much as frustrating it is, the film’s a good reminder that every revolution demands sacrifice. The living heroes have it nicer. They live to enjoy seeing their causes becoming reality, unlike their dead predecessors.

Okay, I know how it sounds like. In reality, I am genuinely grateful of their heroic efforts. I really do. But, I also credit their predecessors for starting the movements. Without them, our living heroes probably wouldn’t have a colossal cause to fight for.

I believe franchises like Star Wars need prequels. They unveil the origin stories, show how everything started. If not prequels, at least insert fictional history lessons in the original stories. Don’t dwell too much on the present. Explore the past well.

If I dare to say this to some people, they would roll their eyes (and I hope they got stuck) and say profoundly pragmatic things like “why does it matter?”, “it’s just entertainment!” and “why can’t you just be dumbed down like us?” My respond would be this:

Why doesn’t it matter?

I have said this countless times before and I will said it again: I love lowbrow entertainment. I really do. I believe it’s morally and intellectually acceptable to unwind with pure escapism. But, indulging in escapism in your every waking second is self-destructive.

Sooner or later, you have to dwell on the inescapable reality. You are in it, whether you like it or not. This can be encouraged by inserting depth to popular entertainment, no matter how subtle it is.

In the case of Rogue One, it’s about knowing the Jedis’ earliest efforts (God, I hope I got the info right). You will never fully appreciate their movement (is that the right word?) unless you learn about the history.

You would learn how and why it started, about everything the movement went through and its evolution from then to now. The movement in its present form doesn’t tell you the full story and that can lead to ignorance.

The people. Don’t forget about them. You would also learn about the sacrifices they made. Be grateful that you don’t have to endure what they went through, that you can enjoy the privilege which weren’t available then.

I know, I know. Star Wars isn’t real. But, one has to acknowledge that it resembles real life phenomenons. Notice the parallel, immerse in it and we’ll be more insightful about our reality. Try harder and we can make our world a better place.

It seems my teenage idealism still lingers…

Oh and one more thing. My statement about esteeming heroes sounds patriotic. It can be applied to the context of fighting for national independence. But, that was not what I had in mind.

I was thinking about something more internal. The fight for more rights for the marginalised ones, honourable governance and even better living conditions. They may seem trivial. But, they also involve heroic individuals. In some cases, they do suffer from violence. Not all heroes are soldiers.

Admittedly, those internal issues can intertwine with patriotism as well.

Inferno: an intellectual fail (a very late review)

inferno-tom-hanks-felicity-jones.jpg

Murders. Lives at stake. Art history puzzles. Ask Robert Langdon for help. Accompanied by a pretty lady. Lots of actions. People die anyway. Unexpected bad guys. Problem’s solved in less than 24 hours. Just another Robert Langdon story.

I haven’t read the novel. Is it a disappointing film adaptation? Can’t say. A disappointing stand-alone film? It is. I was initially intrigued. Our hero suffers concussion, memory loss and visions of hell, inspired by Dante’s Inferno. The film sucked me in. Now, I regret the immersion.

It’s just another mindless action film. Imaginary physical actions mean nothing to me. But, the film’s other aspects do. Mystery. Surrealism. The grotesque. I’m a sucker for them. They help me understanding the world and myself…and they disappear halfway. But, one thing disappoints me even more: unlike the previous films, Inferno isn’t thematic.

The Da Vinci Code condemns deceitful religious authorities; the film shares the condemnation. Angels & Demons discusses “religion vs. science”; the film doesn’t discuss it, even though it’s still there. Both deal with the (in)validity of religious truths. I love having such discussions, taboo or not. That’s why TDVC and A&D feel personal for me.

Inferno’s villain believes killing most of mankind is good for its own sake; less greed, better earth. The future of earth and humanity. It’s both compelling and personal. I condemn his method, but I share his cause. The film has the opportunity to push a discussion. But nooooo! Let’s demonise it and block any discussions! Breed like rabbits! Fuck the earth! Human lives matter! TRUMP 2016!

*takes a deep breath*

In the west, religion is no longer a taboo topic. Hollywood indulges the trend. But, the idea of population control is still sinful. Many feel it demonises procreation and even demands our extinction! So desperate to keep their views unchallenged. Again, Hollywood indulges.

Don’t get me wrong. I love low-brow entertainment; hate to be thoughtful all the time. But, if it can get deeper, do it! Yes, the deeps are dangerous, dark and have grotesque inhabitants…and that’s exactly why you must explore it! Confront the harsh environment and ‘twisted’ creatures. That’s how you grasp life. That’s how you learn. Life’s not all about the comfort of the shallows.

The film doesn’t even need a lengthy discussion. Just have a character that asks “What if the villain’s right? What if we’re wrong?”. Just bring up the questions. The audience would be exposed to a conversation starter, albeit subtle. It would also encourage them be less black-and-white. I seriously hope the novel is unlike the film.

Despite his poor writing skills, Dan Brown brings intellectual and emotional depth to TDVC and A&D. If Inferno is just like the film, it bertrays the entire Robert Langdon series. I hope it’s not true. It comforts me that profound low-brow entertainment exists.

You may ask why overpopulation is personal for me. Well, I’m interested in it; I see it as an actual problem. But, as I said, it’s still a taboo. I’ve been accused of misanthropy simply for bringing it up. Someone also said passing our genes is more valuable than environmental liveability. Hard to have reasoned and civilised discussions about it. But, it’s not all about overpopulation.

I’m also interested in other topics in which I have controversial stances on. Controversial as in mine can’t be put in any boxes. That’s enough for people to label me as an extremist. I know we can’t blame such dangerous mentality on one thing. But, I believe pop culture is a significant factor. Now, I’m ending it with a potentially controversial statement:

Pop culture must have a sense of social responsibility. Pop culture and everything that reaches the masses.

The Three NCISes

6b044ea799c95393b9e2d8f06a300d83

NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans. Currently my biggest guilty pleasures, among things like Bones, fried foods and human indecency.

They are escapist works. Formulaic plots, some archetypal characters and cheap laugh. They cheer me up every time I need it. No thinking needed.

Yeah, that’s not true. I believe that even the most lowbrow entertainment can have highbrow moments. The three NCISes aren’t even among the most lowbrow.

Each doesn’t have equal depth, though. Some have more of it than the others. NCIS is the deepest among the three. I can’t tell which one’s the most shallow: NCIS: LA or NCIS: NO.

I have love and hate relationship with NCIS: LA. It’s more fun and deeper than NO. It’s the most upbeat of all three…and also the most annoying.

There’s something off about the cheap laughs moments. I don’t know what. Maybe I feel they’re too frequent or too forced. I don’t always laugh at the jokes. The pretentiousness is even more unbearable.

Obviously, the three NCISes revolve mostly around the US navy. But, the NCIS: LA is the only one of the three that worships it.

US Navy is portrayed as the only moral institution and being its ‘haters’ instantly make you immoral or, at least, worthless to the society.

That’s not healthy devotion to an institution, that’s a harmful fetish. If you can’t see the flaws in your object of admiration, you’re proudly irrational or, worse, delusional. From that point, you need a shrink ASAP.

I said something about stereotypical characters. Well, they include Muslim ones. Most of them are portrayed as extremists. They define the overall image of Muslims in the show.

Yes, there are a handful of peaceful ones. But, their voices are always muffled. The extremists’ are more audible. Unsurprising with the megaphones they have. Just like their real-life counterparts….

Loudening their voices means you validate them. You are half-way to be their accomplishes and the enemy of peaceful Muslims for spitting on our faces.

Yes, I know I’m being too harsh on it. Sometimes, entertainment is just what it is: entertainment. But, at the same time, I also believe in media responsibility. So, I’m conflicted about this.

Despite everything, it still has moments of psychological depth, even among the goofy characters. They encourage contemplation.

Contemplation. It isn’t something you get from NCIS: NO. Don’t get me wrong. I love how the show is shot on-location.

It may not greatly portray New Orleans. At least, culturally, it’s more authentic than most scripted Hollywood shows. It’s way less plastic…

…and that’s it. I can’t think of anything else to praise about the show. Other than a source of entertainment, it’s as good as an empty coconut shell.

I find that odd. It brings up more real life problems than NCIS: LA does. It has many emotionally-intense moments. Yet, the show means nothing to me. I believe immersion’s the problem.

There’s no invitation for immersion in its social consciousness and emotions. Instead, we are encouraged to be normal spectators. Normal. For me, that’s the other dirty N word.

That’s a shame. With better immersion, this show would be a marvelous experience. Social grittiness with emotional realism. Being entertaining isn’t a good excuse for snubbing them.

The original NCIS show stands taller than those two. For me, it’s always the best in the franchise. But still, quality show it is not.

I cringe at the poor visual aesthetics with its eyesoring cinematography and excessive camera movements. Call me patronising. But, it feels like they barely tried. The other two shows do way better.

Despite being a great annoyance, the horrid visuals is underwhelmed by the social and emotional immersion. I almost wanted to say “depth” instead of “immersion”.

Social issues are frequently shown in the show. But, they’re not thought-provokingly conveyed. No social grittiness as well. But, they do exist.

Exist. They aren’t just the writers’ sick imagination. The show convinces me that they exist in real life as well. It wants me to acknowledge their existence and the problems they bring.

Deep emotions also exist. But, again, they’re not intelligently conveyed. No Bergmanesque drama with emotionally potent scenes. Yet, I still can feel the emotions myself. Maybe the writers are good with emotions.

Or maybe, the writers know how to make lovable characters. No matter how annoyed by them at times, I still love them to bits! Well, everyone except Kate. I’m glad she’s dead.

I don’t know the secret of their lovableness. Maybe the writers know how to pander to the audience. They know how to make me happy. But, I have my own theory.

Each character is like an infinite magical onion. When we think we know them, they manifest another seemingly-fresh layer of their individuality. Even long-time characters still surprise me to this day…

…Including Leroy Jethro Gibbs himself, one of the show’s stars. He is a proud ex-marine who doesn’t believe ex-marines exist, sees the US Navy as honourable and still maintains military discipline. But, he is not a blind fanatic.

He’s always the first person in the show who lambast his fellow marines for their lack of honour. He believes being a marine isn’t a free pass for embracing human indecency. Gibbs’ attitude towards them shapes the show’s perspective.

The US Navy is seen as neither virtuous nor shameful. It’s both. We are shown marines who possess strength and sense of humanity bigger than anyone who brag about having them…

…and we’re also shown marines who possess cowardice, deceitfulness and self-interest so big, it’s a wonder that they become marines in the first place. Some soldiers are never heroic.

Their portrayal is too dualistic. But, it genuinely changes the way I view the military. I used to think it was a place for overtly-rigid people who tolerate violence.

I still think such people exist in the institution. But now, I also believe that sensitive and peace-loving ones also exist there and I had been ignoring them all my life.

I know, I know. It’s a pathetic way to be enlightened. I should’ve known better that stereotypes, more of than not, feast on our delusional biases. I often let my darker side taking over.

I said something about media’s social responsibility. From how much I’ve changed, I can say that NCIS embraces it. Someone or some people off-screen believe in such responsibility. Why can’t the NCIS: LA be the same?

Oh and one last thing I love about NCIS: the characters’ interpersonal relationship. It is positively dynamic with a combination of honesty, healthy competition, banters, respect and warm camaraderie. It warms up my dark, cold heart.

I always crave such relationship. Mine are often volatile. I have better ones with my online friends. Even then, there are a few but noticeable bumps on the road. Again, it’s sad how dependent I am on a TV show.

…..

Obviously, I’ve singled out who is the winner among the three. NCIS is the one that arms me up the most. But, it may be unfair of me.

It is the eldest of the siblings, at fourteen years of age. NCIS: LA and NCIS: NO are eight and three years old, respectively.

From eight seasons of the former, I’ve only watched one and a half of them. I barely give the show a chance. The latter is still a baby. I need to wait more.

This shows the possibility of me being wrong. If I watch more episodes, I would probably change my mind about them. Who knows? I may end up loving either one even more.

But then, I was immediately hooked by NCIS at my first episode. I watched the other two in the first place because they are parts of the franchise. Besides, 20 episodes should be more than enough for me to judge a show’s overall quality.

So, the chance of me changing my mind is minuscule.

Those peculiar, fantastical and thoughtful genres

I am referring to three in particular: magical realism, surrealism and absurdism.

If you tell people to describe them, they would say ‘confusing’, ‘weird’ and ‘pointless’. Of course, they are wrong about them. But, the ignorance is understandable. The three genres are of acquired taste. Even not all of the lovers grasped them at first.

All three have one similarity: they encourage contemplation. They want us to reflect on our own life. They make us contemplate about what is true and what isn’t. They encourage us to reconsider our outlook concerning our own existence. Either that or they make you die of boredom or confusion.

Contemplation is not exclusive to strong realism. Even unworldliness has the ability to foster its growth. Realism reminds us about real life entities we are already aware of. Those three genres prefer us show us we failed to notice by ourselves: life’s ‘abnormalities’.

Their portrayal are always deadpan. No explanation to their existence and mechanics. They are just another life banalities we deal with every single day. What kind of ‘abnormalities’ they are depends on the genres. I’ll start with magical realism.

As the name says, its oddity is the magical elements. It encourages us to acknowledge the ‘magic’ in our real life. The stories feel both very real and fantastical at the same time. Those are more than enough to disaffiliate the genre from fantasy.

Unlike magical realism, fantasy is escapist. Magic is explicitly depicted as a non-existing entity. It abducts us from the real world temporarily (or permanently…). Viewing the two genres interchangeably is ignorance; unacceptable if it comes from actual fantasy writers and fans. Okay, I should go on to surrealism before I end up ranting.

The peculiarity of surrealism comes from its liberal blend of the conscious and the subconscious. It illustrates how both are inseparable from each other. All of our actions are, on some level, affected by something intangible deep inside us. Oh and it’s not to be confused with absurdism.

On the surface, it may looks similar to surrealism. But, instead of depicting the subconscious, it depicts the absurdity of life (the name’s obvious). It reminds us that even our conscious world can be senseless at times. Sometimes, we have to accept it.

Not only they want us take heed of the life abnormalities, the trio also inspire us to embrace them. They are benign and even enriching to our life. Forsaking them seem unwise; doing so, we are defiling our own very being. Those three genres can utilised as our guidance. Well, that’s my personal outlook, anyway.

I may also add a fourth ‘peculiar genre’: science fiction. I find it a unique genre because it has a place in the world of entertainment and the arts. I never thought sci-fi could be artsy until I found Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris.

From there, I managed to find other artsy sci-fi films like Tarkovsky’s Stalker, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: Space Odyssey and David Cronenberg’s Videodrome (artistry highly debatable, though). Each one has something in common: contemplation about our relations with science and technology. Yes, that C word again.

They dwell on how our life are tremendously shaped by the existence of science and technology. They supply us with greater practicality and alter how we regard our fellow human beings and even ourselves. That’s what artsy sci-fi films have to say. I never thought they could have such capacity until I found Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris.

From there, I managed to find similar films like Stalker (also by Tarkovsky), Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: Space Odyssey and David Cronenberg’s Videodrome. I am excited to watch Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville, Andrzej Zulawski’s On the Silver Globe (I’m sure I butchered his name) and read Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five.

I am even excited to explore new genres as well.

Overt infatuation with politeness

Ahok, one of the men who run for the next governor of Jakarta, is a controversial figure. A Christian political leader of Chinese descent in a Muslim and non-Chinese majority currently afflicted by sectarianism. His presence alone is enough to cause a stir.

As horrible as the intolerance itself, it’s not the only “criticism” againts Ahok that I find “unfounded”. Many are offended by his crassness and lack of politeness. For them, it’s more than enough to defame him.

They don’t care if a politician is corrupt, greedy or power-hungry. They only care about his/her politeness, how he/she sees fame among the masses is more important than competence and integrity. Ahok is the complete opposite.

Ahok is willing to publicly berate anyone who actually deserve it. For him, frankness, leadership competence and dignity are much more important than popularity among people who are easily duped by masks of pretence.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I hate manners. In fact, I deem them extremely valuable. We cannot treat people carelessly. Every single one of our actions must have protocols. But, the problem arises when we use them as justification for horridness.

Politness and dishonestly are considered synonymous. Being frank is rude. That’s a shallow way of thinking. If that’s what you believe, what you desire is actually pretence harmony.

“Harmony” isn’t born out of genuine respect, but out of spinelessness about being open. Honesty can expose the plague of fakeness in our life. Those of us who love the status quo see it as impoliteness and the source of “disharmony”. This degeneracy of the mind doesn’t stop there.

There is also a belief that politeness also means not saying anything negative about the powerful. Once again, if you think that way, you don’t want politeness. What you want is mass worshipping of the high rankers.

You make Gods out of them, more than you do with your actual Gods. You are unwilling to let them “hurt” by even the most constructive criticism. You will do anything to protect your objects of worship. In fact, you support sanctions against those critics. In the end, you are henchmen to oppression.

Maybe you think I am over-reaching. I admit that is hard to comprehend to anyone who are already used with worshipping their fellow human beings. Maybe you also agree with what I am saying here, not realising you maybe also guilty of it. Once again, this degeneracy doesn’t stop here.

You also think politeness is everything. It’s the only thing worth praising from an individual. You don’t bother to dig deeper about someone. You are easily fooled by the mask that hides his/her uglier side.

You don’t believe politeness and incompetence. You even don’t believe a polite individual can also be filled with immorality. Your love of politeness makes you blind.

That’s a dangerous mindset. If you have the right to vote, you would fill important positions with creatures whose only asset is manners. No skills. No morality. In order to protect your fragile feelings, you are willing to sacrifice the society who has to be governed by spitefulness.

As I have said before, I uphold politeness. I believe every single one of our interactions must be bound by rules. But, once again, you must have high standard. You must demand that politeness to be accompanied by professional competence, honesty and sincerity of the heart. Don’t be a shallow being.

Before I end my rant, some of you think this article is pro-Ahok propaganda; its topic is just a disguise. Well, you are half right.

I am not paid by his campaigning team. I am writing this article willingly, with or without getting paid. I am an actual Ahok supporter, even though I don’t reside in Jakarta.

For me, he does have a crude behaviour…and also leadership skill that is proven to be solid. All of the condemnations against him (apart from his crudeness) are proven to be bullshits. All of them are based on dishonesty.

Like him, I also spend a large chunk of my life living in Sumatra. Sumatrans are infamous for our crudeness (my Java-raised mom puts an importance on politeness). But, I also learn how we should judge people based on their “insides”. Their exterior is, more of than not, deceiving.

Besides, Ahok is aware of his flaw and he makes efforts to improve himself.

Keterlenaan berlebihan akan sopan santun

Ahok adalah manusia yang penuh kontroversi. Seorang pemimpin politik beragama Nasrani keturunan Tionghoa di negara mayoritas Muslim dan non-Tionghoa yang sedang dilanda penyakit-penyakit SARA. Kehadirannya saja sudah cukup untuk menyulut masalah.

Seburuknya ketiadaan toleransi tersebut, itu bukan satu-satunya “kritikan” terhadap Ahok yang saya anggap “tidak berbobot”. Banyak orang merasa tersinggung dengan kekasaran dan ketidaksantunannya. Bagi mereka, itu sudah lebih dari cukup untuk mencoreng namanya.

Mereka tidak peduli jika seorang politikus korup, serakah atau gila kuasa. Mereka hanya peduli dengan kesopan-santunannya, betapa ia menganggap ketenaran di khayalak lebih penting dari pada kemampuan memimpin dan harga diri. Ahok adalah kebalikan dari semua itu.

Ahok lebih suka mencaci orang-orang yang memang pantas dicaci maki di muka umum. Baginya, keterbukaan akan diri yang sebenarnya, kemampuan memimpin dan harga diri jauh lebih penting dari pada ketenaran di antara orang-orang yang gampang tertipu dengan topeng-topeng kepalsuan.

Tentu saja, itu bukan berarti saya membenci tata krama. Bahkan, saya menganggap itu sebagai hal yang bernilai tinggi. Kita tidak bisa memerlakukan orang lain dengan seenaknya. Semua tindakan kita harus aturan mainnya. Tetapi, permasalahan muncul saat tata krama dijadikan sebagai pembenaran hal-hal yang buruk.

Sopan santun dan ketidakjujuran dianggap sebagai dua hal yang sama. Berterus terang dianggap kasar. Itu adalah pola pikir yang dangkal. Jika anda berpikir seperti itu, berarti yang sebenarnya anda inginkan adalah keserasian palsu.

“Keserasian” terjadi bukan karena rasa hormat yang tulus, melainkan karena ketidakberanian untuk berterus terang. Kejujuran dapat menyingkap wabah kepalsuan di kehidupan kita. Kita yang mencintai status quo menganggap kejujuran sebagai ketidaksantunan dan sumber “perpecahan”. Kehinaan pikiran tersebut tidak berhenti di situ.

Ada anggapan bahwa kesantunan juga berarti tidak mengungkapan kata-kata miring terhadap pihak yang berkuasa. Sekali lagi, jika anda berpikir seperti itu, anda tidak menginginkan kesantunan. Anda menginginkan penyembahan massal terhadap orang-orang yang berpangkat lebih tinggi.

Anda menuhankan mereka, lebih dari anda menuhankan tuhan anda sendiri. Anda tidak rela jika mereka ”tersakiti” oleh kritikan yang paling membangun sekalipun. Apapun akan anda lakukan untuk melindungi sembahan anda. Bahkan, anda mendukung pemberian sanksi kepada para kritikus. Pada akhirnya, anda adalah kaki tangan penindasan.

Mungkin anda berpikir saya terlalu mengada-ada. Saya akui hal ini sulit dipercaya bagi anda yang sudah terbiasa menyembah sesama manusia. Mungkin anda setuju dengan pernyataan saya, tanpa sadar anda mungkin juga melakukan hal yang sama. Sekali lagi, kehinaan ini belum berhenti di situ.

Anda juga berpikir kesantunan adalah segala-segalanya. Itu adalah satu-satunya yang pantas dipuji dari seseorang. Anda tidak mau bersusah payah untuk menilai seseorang lebih dalam. Anda dengan mudahnya tertipu oleh topeng yang menutupi sisi buruk seseorang.

Anda tidak percaya bahwa seseorang dapat menyandang kesantunan dan ketidakmampuan secara bersamaan. Bahkan, anda tidak percaya bahwa seorang yang santun bisa dipenuhi dengan kenistaan moral. Kecintaan terhadap kesantunan membuat anda buta.

Itu adalah pola pikir yang berbahaya. Jika anda memiliki hak untuk mencoblos, anda akan mengisi jabatan-jabatan penting dengan makhluk-makhluk yang hanya bermodal santun. Keahlian nol. Kebajikan nol. Demi melindungi perasaan-perasaan anda yang mudah tersinggung, anda rela mengorbankan masyarakat yang harus dipimpin oleh kebrobrokan.

Seperti yang saya katakan sebelumnya, saya menjunjung tinggi kesantunan. Saya beranggap bahwa interaksi kita dengan sesama manusia harus ada aturan mainnya. Tetapi, sekali lagi, anda harus memiliki patokan yang tinggi. Anda harus menuntut agar kesantunan diiringi dengan kemahiran dalam bekerja, kejujuran dan ketulusan hati. Janganlah menjadi manusia yang dangkal.

Sebelum saya mengakhiri omelan, sebagian dari anda pasti berpikir bahwa artikel ini adalah propaganda kampanye Ahok; pokok pembicaraan di sini hanyalah kedok. Anda setengah benar.

Saya tidak dibayar oleh tim kampanye Ahok. Saya dengan rela menulis artikel ini, dibayar ataupun tidak. Saya memang adalah pendukung Ahok, walaupun saya tidak tinggal di Jakarta.

Menurut saya, beliau memang memiliki perangai yang kasar…dan juga kemampuan memimpin yang terbukti kokoh. Kecaman-kecaman tentang Ahok (kecuali tentang ketidaksantunannya) terbukti penuh omong kosong. Mereka semua hanyalah berdasarkan keculasan.

Seperti Ahok, saya juga menghabiskan sebagian besar hidup saya di Sumatra. Orang-orang Sumatra memang terkenal akan perangai kita yang buruk (ibu saya yang besar di Jawa sangat mementingkan sopan santun). Tetapi saya juga belajar bahwa penilaian orang harus ditekankan pada “isi” mereka. Bentuk luar mereka lebih sering menipu.

Lagi pula, Ahok juga sadar akan kekasarannya dan dia berusaha untuk lebih baik.

In Defense of Youtube

I don’t know how to “properly” describe Youtube.

For starter, Youtube annoys the shit out of “traditional” media because of no good reasons other than it exists. They are like older siblings who despise their newborn siblings, taking their parents’ attention.

But, in this age, “traditional” media are helpless without digital platforms, including Youtube. Especially Youtube. They need it to stay relevant. They are like annoying elders who talk shit about the youngsters they are dependent on.

People will refute my statement, saying that there are good reasons to hate Youtube. Things like poor content, lack of talent and quick fame and fortune. Youtube does have those traits…and so does “traditional” media.

First of all, poor content. Youtube does have mindless challenges videos, overt-reliance on slaptick, second-hand humour, screamy gamers, dramas, tasteless pranks and clickbaits. Understandbly, it’s hard to be convinced about some Youtubers’ talents. Some.

Venture deeper and you will find thoughtful vlogs, witty and off-beat humour, nicely-packaged educational videos, satires and even honest commentaries. Yes, they tend to have lesser views. But, many still manage to get over a million views per video. Talents, on some levels, are still appreciated.

“Traditional” media, even in the for-profit one, do have quality content. I love shows like Community and The Golden Girls. I enjoy reading highbrow periodicals. But, it’s undeniable that mediocrity also (and still) dominates the industry.

“Reality” shows, “educational” channels airing anything non-educational, pundits pretending to be journalists, unethical journalists, gossip columnists, imitative and skin-deep TV movies, paparazzi, shock jocks, sitcoms without humour, irresponsible coverage of extremists, inappropriate children’s shows, just to name a few.

Youtube’s young. It is still eleven years old. It having dumbed down content is understandable, albeit extremely annoying. In fact, it’s impressive how much quality videos it possesses. “Traditional” media having that flaw is more unforgivable.

Printed media is centuries old. Broadcasting media is around a century old. They have lots of time to improve themselves. But, sensibility isn’t for everyone. Up to these days, one can still find content so horrible, it makes you wonder if “traditional” media people ever finish pre-schools (pre-schoolers are smarter than them, anyway).

Second, easy fame and fortune. I have encountered various comments online about how “traditional” media are more resilient. Some use their own money to start their careers. They also have more rivals. Once again, easily debunked.

Yes, some do need to invest themselves. They do have to wait for their efforts to take off. But, once their works are published or broadcasted, they will undoubtedly get paid. That’s not the same with Youtubers.

They can immediately upload their videos. But, they are lucky if they get one view. Most of them keep making videos for years, not getting a penny, not knowing if their channels will ever take off. They don’t have viral videos. While waiting, they obviously need to make a living by having other full-time jobs.

Admittedly, a few do get instant fame. But, more of than not, their viral videos are mindlessly inept, no obvious signs of skilled video-making. In the end, those Youtubers quickly fade away, just like any other fads. If they want a Youtube career, they have to step up their game and not letting themselves judged by their viral videos.

Even if the videos are of finer quality, they still have to work harder. Their viral videos shouldn’t be their only magnum opuses. Get too comfortable and soon they’ll be another fads as well. Sad, wasted talents.

Talents. Skills. I admire “traditional” media people as well. But, I abhor the belief that every single one of them strongly have both and Youtubers have none. Again, easily debunked. (I copied and pasted that one).

In their early careers, Youtubers have to be their own hosts, actors, idea makers, camera operators, channel managers, editors, writers, thumbnail designers, special effects people, set designers, basically everything. As their channels grow, they have to become their own PR practitioners as well.

In their earliest videos, they may include other people to participate. But, they are usually either volunteering friends or relatives.

They can hire professionals, obviously. You know, the ones with actual needed skills. All they need is sufficient amount of money and leadership skills. That sounds like an easy feat, right? Right? Right?

“Traditional” media people don’t need to do that many tasks. More of than not, they are already assigned to focus on specific tasks. Not a requirement to be skilled in various disciplines (even though it is a plus point).

I also mentioned something about less rivalry in Youtube. Yeah, no. In “traditional” media, your rivals are the people who have entered or attempted to enter the industry. They’re not that visible. But, you know their exist. It’s not the same with Youtube.

Everyone who can access Youtube is a potential rival. Many started Youtube either out of boredom or the need for self-expression, no prior interest or skill in media. Never underestimate them, though. They can easily eclipse your gleaming career sooner or later.

Already-established Youtubers can possess millions of views and subscribers under their wings…and still be unknown by the majority of Youtube community. They are such a colossally-huge collective, it’s possible to be both popular and under-the-radar at the same time. It’s harder to know who your rivals are. The competition is absurdly more potent.

Actually, instant fame and fortune on Youtube is a possibility. All you need is one thing: an already-established “traditional” media career prior. With an escalator, you would have it way easier than many Youtubers.

(I acknowledge the rivalry aspect also applied to the world of blogging. But, as I’m new to it, I prefer to focus on Youtube instead).

If you think the title should be changed to “Youtube fanboy getting abusive traditional media”, I would agree with you. I admit that I am being harshly unfair against them, throwing all of their hardwork out of the window…

…Just like how people treat Youtubers. Many of us are too snobby to acknowledge their potentials, too ignorant to realise that the website’s much younger age. We are too comfortable with the olds, refusing to give the new a chance.

Notice how I type the word “traditional” with quotation marks. Well, I am one of the people who realise that everything old used to be new.

Slowly but surely, the new continues on its journey, resiliently defies the sneering from the old ones. Then, they relent, finally admitting the new one deserves a place among them. The new becomes old, slowly replacing its predecessors.

The story’s not done yet. The formerly new takes its turn as a sneerer, wishing that the new dies young…

…And repeat.

One day, digital media in general will be regarded as “traditional”. If Youtube dies, a new website will replace it. What we consider “traditional” nowadays will be too quaint, even older people will abandon them. Even digital media cannot escape such fate.

I overuse the word “traditional” here. I was warned that such practice takes away the meanings. Well, that won’t be a problem here. Traditionalism is not that meaningful. In the end, it’s more about widespread acceptance rather than supposedly-existing intrinsic values. Don’t judge something from its societal status.

(Wait, I also overuse the word Youtube. *sighs*. Oh well).

Oh and one more thing. I am indeed a Youtube fanboy and I am not ashamed of it. I love both the excellent and horrible content of the website. I also have never created a single video.

Well, I always want to. But, not only because I’m a chronic procrastinator, I also lack the confidence. I don’t have a single experience in both video-making and performing arts. So far, my confidence only extends to analysing Youtube…

…And blogging, of course.