How to make arguments 2

*puts on a mask*

Not long ago, I made a blog post about effectively making arguments. For the entirety, I advocate for using nothing but feelings, to show reality who is the boss.

To this day, I still stand by that statement. But, if you want to up your game, you can slander your opponents.

First, you can accuse them of lacking experiences with the things they hate.

You can accuse detractors of religions of religious inexperience, despite the fact that many grew up in strict religious environments. You can accuse car-free urban design proponents of inexperience with driving and car ownership, despite the fact that many grew up dependent on cars and some still are.

This method insinuates that your opponents don’t have good reasons hating the things they hate. They hate just for the sake of hating.

You can also enforce an extremely black-and-white view of the world to your opponents, in which everything is strictly an ‘either or’ situation.

If a Muslim acknowledges that Islamic extremism exists and yet he refuses to label all Muslims as extremists, then you must accuse him as an apologist.

If someone criticises both the US and its enemies, then you must accuse him of supporting US hegemony.

If someone supports legalisation of abortion, prostitution and recreational drug use while also expressing his dislike of said activities, then you must accuse him enjoying those activities.

You have to assert that fighting Islamic extremism is impossible without demonising Muslims. You have to assert that the lesser evil is automatically not evil. You have to assert that harm reduction is a non-existing concept.

You have to assert that a nuanced perspective and approach is the same as fence sitting and complicity.

You can also project yourself onto others.

You can accuse marginalised minorities of forcing their identities upon everyone, even though you are the one who wants to impose yours upon them.

You can accuse queer people of perversion, even though you are the one who are obsessed with trans people’s genitalia and what same-sex couples do in their bedroom, even though you are the ones who think pronouns are sexual.

You can accuse women and minorities’ rights activists of wanting to give women and minorities extra privileges, even though you support upholding extra privileges for men and the majority.

You can accuse those liberal commies of disregarding the rights of women, Jews and LGBT people because of their defence of Muslims, even though people like you have a long track records of opposing them.

You can accuse war opponents of trivialising human sufferings by not wanting to fight tyrants, even though your war-mongering ass never considers the long-term human effects of military invasions.

Those tactics work not because they persuade your opponents, but because they persuade your audience… and you better hope they are full of intellectually basic minds.

You need that kind of people because they are brainless sponges who can easily soak any skin-deep, cerebrally undemanding statements.

Apart from deviance against reality (which I have asserted in a previous blogpost), there is nothing which can empower your arguments better than popularity.

The more popular something is, the more people will defend it. The more defenders it has, the more credible it appears to be.

*takes off the mask*

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How to appear environmentally woke

*puts on a mask*

As the title suggests, you don’t have to actually care about the environment. But, appearing so can help your public image among the gullible morons.

And it is so goddamn easy to do. All you have to do is to embrace the so-called “green” products.

It is cool to love cars that do not run on gas. You know, hydrogen and electric cars, especially ones made the so-called Godsend genius whom humanity can live without, Elon Musk.

Of course, we can simply implement bike-oriented, transit-oriented, mixed-used, pedestrian-friendly urban developments which not only effectively prevent air and noise pollution, but also use way less raw materials… you know, the things which those bulky and unnecessarily computerised Teslas require lots of.

But, who cares about actual effectiveness? What matters is looking cool. Oh, and if you are a car-culture fanatic, you can cling on to your fetish of those resource-hungry monsters without damaging your reputation.

Hating plastic is also a good way to go. It is trendy to do it and to love the alternatives, even though it is also scientifically unsound.

While plastic waste is indeed destructive, its productions is actually way more environmentally friendly than the productions of those more “natural” alternatives, as they require more agricultural practices and therefore, more destruction of the natural environments. Not to mention that plastic ban targets specific products while ignoring the rest. The randomness makes the whole thing futile.

But, again, it is trendy to hate plastic. Who cares about whether something is actually green or not? In fact, not only hating plastic makes you look cool, it can also disguise your hatred of disabled people.

People don’t realise how dependent many disabled people are on plastic straws. Some say they should be replaced with metal and paper straws, despite the fact that metal is great heat conductor and paper – no matter how thick it is – can get soggy. It sounds like you cannot use plastic ban to hide your ableism.

Actually, you can. For some reasons, when talking about straws, many people forget how hot metal can be and how soggy paper can be. Consequentially, despite their legitimate concerns, the protesting disabled people are dismissed as spoiled brats.

So yes, you can definitely use plastic ban to satisfy your hatred of cripples.

If I dig deeper, I am sure we can find more ways to use environmental wokeness for our selfish interests. But, those two are definitely the most popular ones.

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Is it bad to personally attack others?

For me, it depends.

Regarding Trump infected with COVID, many people -both his supporters and detractors- condemn anyone who celebrate his suffering. His detractors also claim that doing so means we are stooping to his level.

In one of the Facebook groups I am in, this conversation also extends to attacking Trump’s physique. Many members found it distasteful and it distracted us from an actually civil political discourse.

One may argue that personal attacks are bad, regardless of how deplorable the people we attack are. But, let’s be real here: it is dishonest to say personally attacking Trump makes us as bad as he is.

Claiming so insinuates that we attack politicians like Trump because we take pleasures in others’ sufferings… which is obviously a load of bullshit! We attack them because they are powerful individuals whose incompetence and lack of moral integrity have caused harm to the people they supposedly serve!

Attacking them is certainly different from attacking fellow non-politicians who are as powerless as us, even if not more.

The latter can potentially punch down, the former will always punch up. Attacking politicians punches down IF you hate them simply because they are religious, racial and/or ethnic minorities.

You can easily argue against the nastiness of the attacks without resorting to bothsideism.

I know why Trump supporters and the likes would resort this. Well, technically, they don’t commit bothsideism in this case because they don’t see anything wrong about their actions and their idols’. For them, only the ‘others’ can do bad things.

But, I don’t get why the likes of Trump detractors do this. Maybe they are moral absolutists who think bad is bad and good is good, with no greyness in between. Murder is murder, even if the ‘victim’ is an executed unredeemable criminal.

If that is the case, then I find their moral convictions a bit suspect. It is clear they are simpletons when it comes to discerning what is morally right and wrong.

It also makes me wonder if they hate Trump for the wrong reasons. If they hate someone simply because he/she is a harsh person and disregarding what he/she has to say or what his/her intentions are, then they are dangerously unable to see greyness.

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For kids

Every time there is a discourse about a low quality film, TV show, song, book or a Youtube channel that is perceived as low quality, there has to be one mucky gaping hole that screeches, ‘they are made for kids!‘.

It makes sense if you are a brain-damaged ape.

For one, children are not the only ones who can enjoy pitiful entertainment. I have met adults who enjoy films by the likes of Michael Bay and the Jason Friedberg/Aaron Seltzer duo. I have met adults who can enjoy Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider’s comedies. I know adults other than myself who enjoy Marvel films and old Pewdiepie videos.

Said creators are also known for their violent, sexual and/or obscenely ‘humorous’ content. I don’t know how anyone can earnestly and un-ironically think they  deliberately target children despite their age-inappropriate content.

If that was the case, why won’t the critics condemn the depravation? Why do they have to focus on the lack of artistry? Personally, I find moral integrity more important than artistic one.

Shocking, I know. Who would have thought that not everyone shares the moral compass of Polanski’s defenders?

Well, we do condemn children-exploiting entertainers; on Youtube, they are individuals like the Paul brothers and Ricegum. But, here is the thing: they are on Youtube.

Despite the flaws, the Youtube community (the Anglo-western one, specifically) is more morally progressive than any ‘traditional’ creative industries I can think of. Youtubers have been condemning sexual predators years before Hollywood started condemning Harvey Weinstein and the French film industry still fawns over Polanski.

Now, what if those inept creators really do target children, but they are not being depraved about their practices? Well, let me answer the question with another question: so fucking what?

The fact that some people think being liked by children is a sign of defect implies they see children as subhumans and entertaining them is sinful.

No, my assertion is not a contrived slippery slope; I am just carrying out the so-called ‘logic’. Surely, if you don’t see children as subhumans who don’t deserve their own entertainment, why the flying fuck would you consider being children-friendly a weakness?

Oh, and if I want to go further with the so-called ‘logic’, TV shows like Mister Roger’s Neighborhood and Sesame Streets should be considered as blights to the American TV industry because they are intentionally made for and are beloved by children.

It is obvious the so-called ‘criticism’ is born out of desperation instead of good judgement. The desperation to make said creators look as bad as possible compels the so-called ‘critics’ to throw reason out of the window, dehumanise children and throw them under the bus.

There is an irony in this:

I am not great with children and I am certain many of the so-called ‘critics’ are the exact opposite. Yet, I am not the one who demonises children.

But then, being socially adept is not the same as being genuinely nice. If anything, your social adeptness can be used to hide the snake in you.

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Not being vegan

Even if I agree that every animal-based product stands on animal sufferings (still not convinced about sheep wool), I still don’t buy the belief that veganism makes one moral.

Treating fellow human beings like shits makes you a scumbag, regardless whether you are vegan or not; no need to be a genius to grasp that. If anything, focusing solely on the products you are consuming means you are missing the bigger picture.

Not to mention that many animal-free products are also produced by the means of suffering. Unless you spent your living under a diamond-crusted, golden boulder (and many of you clearly did), you would have heard about human exploitations committed by agribusinesses. Once every vegetable and fruit farm treats its labourers like human beings, I will concede and acknowledge the moral legitimacy of veganism.

But, that’s very utopian. There is an extremely low possibility of me becoming vegan for that reason.

There are two factors that will compel me to consumer fewer animal products: health and emotional attachment. Mind the word fewer; I will not exclude them from my consumptions entirely.

I am open to the possibility that science will declare vegan diet as the healthiest one of all; it makes sense because we get our nutrients from food. But, I don’t see how using leather and wool is detrimental to our health.

I can also see myself stop consuming certain animal products because I get emotionally-attached to the animals they are derived from; I am sure I can get attached to animals like cows and goats. But, I cannot see myself attached to any seafood; I never feel guilty for eating them. I wonder if humans have ever bonded with tunas and shrimps before.

But, despite everything I just said, I am not siding with some fellow non-vegans either.

Some non-vegans like me question veganism for its scientific and moral validity, both of which have been claimed by vegans. But, some are just pure loonies.

They love meat so much, they see meat-eating as a some sort of moral duty. They feel that vegans spit on their faces with their meatless diet. They feel their right to eat meat is trampled by the mere existence of vegans. As a result, some people genuinely wanted to boycott a British bakery chain for selling vegan sausage rolls!

Basically, just like some zealous vegans, those meat eaters are extremists.

A tangent:

If I am in charge of a school or a group of schools, I would provide vegan school lunches. Unless you forget about what I just said paragraphs ago, you know I don’t care about evangelising veganism.

One thing for sure: providing vegan meals means I have to deal with waaaaay less dietary restrictions. While people can be allergic to certain plants and a handful of religious laws prohibit the consumption of certain plants, cutting animal-based ingredients altogether will reduce the hassles by a wide margin.

But, even if it is not true, wouldn’t it be beneficial for the students to familiarise themselves with the tastes of fruits and vegetables? While I doubt many end up as vegans, I am certain they would not end up as adults who can only get culinary pleasures from meat and dairy.

And I am also certain it would boost the creativity of the cooks. Their thinking organs must work harder in order to create healthy but tasty dishes with strict limitations imposed upon them.

When I said ‘cooks’, I meant people who actually cook dishes from scratch. Heating up frozen pizza and tater tots does not count as cooking.

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Monarchists

Straight up, many know nothing about how government works.

For starter, most monarchies nowadays are constitutional. In those countries, monarchs are NOT the heads of governments, they are heads of states. Whether they are elected or they get the positions  because of their long-dead ancestors, their jobs are simply meant to be personifications of their respective states. Their duties are mostly entirely symbolic.

As a result, for every political progress and deterioration that occurs in a constitutional monarchy, it can only be credited and blamed on the judicial, legislative and executive branches of the government.

In the specific case of the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, he was credited for being a unifying force for his ability to douse conflicts in his country. But, if he was indeed a unifying force, wouldn’t he successfully prevent any future conflicts from emerging ever again, even after his death? I mean, at this point, coup has become a Thai tradition.

While I am clearly annoyed by monarchists in general, the British ones are a ‘special’ breed: they believe once Great Britain becomes a republic, they will refer to the prime ministers as ‘presidents’ and it is too outrageous to imagine.

Two problems why it is a stupid sentiment.

First of all, why does the title fucking matter? Why is it so personally hard for them to refer to their leaders as ‘presidents’? It is extremely petty to make a big deal out of such an inherently inoffensive title. A president is literally someone who presides over things, for fuck’s sake!

Second, it is just another symptom of their political ignorance.

The UK is one of the countries that embrace parliamentary system. In such set-up, the heads of government are elected by the parliament; with some exceptions, they and the heads of state are two separate positions, with the former having actual executive powers and the latter having almost entirely ceremonial roles. Hence, why constitutional monarchies are parliamentary; the presidential and semi-presidential ones have no rooms for centuries-long, so-called divinely-approved nepotism.

What’s the point of this article?

It is simple: I just wish monarchists admit their love of the monarchs is anything but rational. No, they cannot claim rationality when their arguments defy basic facts about politics and, most importantly, when they behave like cult members.

In the UK specifically, not only they take criticisms of the monarchs too personally, they also think Meghan Markle, whose so-called sin is defiance against the status quo, is a bigger monster than Prince Andrew, who cannot convince the world that he and Jeffrey Epstein did not share the same hobby.

Don’t forget there are countries where insulting the monarchs is literally illegal.

Many will laugh when someone admits that him/her approval of certain things (e.g. monarchism) is entirely emotional. But, I cannot laugh at that someone because it would be hypocritical of me

My embrace of theism and Islam are also entirely emotional and that acknowledgement is a sign of self-awareness and self-awareness kills the zealots, apologists and even potential-extremists inside us, including the ones inside me.

As a result, not only I have acknowledged other people’s inherent right to hate the things I love, I have also acknowledged the potential soundness of their hatred.

If monarchists accept their monarchist stances are emotionally-driven and accept their beloved monarchs are their ‘nationalised waifus’ (as Oliver Thorn of Philosophytube nicely put it), they would stop behaving like cult members.

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The overtly-polished Casey Neistat style

I call it the Casey Neistat style because that’s how others call it (even though some people think the style predated him) and I don’t have an alternative name for it.

From the title, you can easily tell I am not a fan.

Okay, I am not saying I hate the aesthetic. I actually think it looks beautiful and proves every image can look pretty when captured by the right person. But, that’s also my problem with it: it looks TOO beautiful.

Before I was immersed in Youtube cultures, I had already watched arthouse films like Andrei Tarkovsky’s and Ingmar Bergman’s. They are visually stunning and narratively compelling (for me), exposing me to cinematic art works.

Also resulting in my high expectations of vloggers like Neistat.

It is already ingrained in my mind that good cinematography HAS to be accompanied by compelling stories. But, vlogs don’t tell ‘profound’ stories (mind the quotation marks), even when they showcase out of the ordinary events or the lives of perpetual travellers.

If anything, those vlogs feel pretentious. The polished cinematography seems to do nothing but overcompensating the passable narratives.

Oh, and when I said that vlogs are not narratively profound, I meant it as a compliment. Because they are supposed to narrate Youtubers’ semi-personal lives, I always expect raw and mundane storytellings; that is what I find attractive about vlogs in the first place!

I actually do enjoy some Neistat-esque vlogs, like the ones of Evan Edinger, Terry Song and Adam Neely. The difference is theirs are more stylistically restrained, allowing a greater presence of rawness and mundanity.

Thanks to its participatory nature, Youtube has opposites for almost everything. For Casey Neistat style and the likes, there are content described by Nerd City as post-ironic.

I cannot make myself enjoy the works of Youtubers like Filthy Frank, MaxMoeFoe and IDubbz (his Content Cop videos are an exception). Apart from the crassness which I find extreme (even for a relatively crass person like me), I am also anxious about the blurred lines between irony and sincerity.

But still, despite my inability to relish such content, I cannot help but respecting those creators for their unsuppressed mockery of the insincere and synthetic charm endorsed by the establishment. While I admittedly do embrace some of the establishment’s ideals, I also despise the idea of venerating them.

Thankfully, despite the increasing pressure of uniformity, the platform still has a sizeable freedom to dissent, something those employed in the ‘traditional’ media can only dream of. Therefore, almost every imaginable type of content has a place on Youtube*.

Whether it is aesthetically and thematically extreme** or middle-of-the-road, you will definitely find it.

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*Obviously, there are restrictions to what can and cannot be uploaded. But, it is no secret Youtube content policing is both ineffective and misguided. ‘Lawful’ videos can get taken down and ‘unlawful’ ones stay. Supposedly, people have found porn on the site; while I do have found softcore films, I have yet found hardcore ones.

**Post-irony is extreme due to its depictions of life as an inherently ugly entity. But, I would argue overtly-polished aesthetic is also extreme for its overtly beautiful depictions of life; once one is accustomed to it, acknowledgement of the ugly reality feels taboo.

A bit of tangent here:

Andrei Tarkovsky said he utilised both colour and monochrome scenes in his films because those shot entirely in colour felt like animated paintings for him and therefore, felt ‘too beautiful’ to be realistic.

I never thought that I would reference Tarkovsky’s philosophy while discussing Youtube.

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Literacy increased, thanks to the internet

Media literacy, not literacy literacy. I cannot help but noticing how prevalent it is among Millennials and Gen Z, who are arguably the biggest internet consumers.

Okay, I am not saying that we are one hundred percent literate in the media. We are not. But, compared to the older generations -who consume the internet a lot less-, we are far less easily duped by internet content.

We are more reactive to clickbaits and we have great eyes for photoshopped images. We also can get belittling and even hostile towards ‘fakeness’.

Yes, my words are anecdotal. But, the generational disparity is hard to ignore and I had been noticing this for quite a while; I was even more convinced of its existence after watching a Danny Gonzalez video, in which he doctored his own photo to make himself look like someone else and his Instagram followers immediately knew it was photoshopped. He succeeded only after an impressively-meticulous planning.

(Note: I have to mention that the much younger internet consumers are also relatively gullible. But then, it has less about their internet experiences and more about having less developed brains.)

Personally I credit our relatively high media literacy to four factors:

1. The participatory nature of internet cultures

Unlike ‘traditional’ media, the digital one allows its consumers to be its content creators as well and many embrace the opportunity.

Inevitably, many internet consumers know the behind-the-scenes process of content creation; they have learned how to doctor images, edit videos, do sound design and write scripts and/or blogs.

2. The unintentionally educational nature of certain content

Some Youtubers I have watched love to make videos about having fun with photoshopping. Those who make commentaries constantly call out deceptiveness of online content creators; sometimes, even ‘traditional’ media is not free from their ‘wrath’.

Consequentially, many of their viewers will end up becoming more vigilant for doctored images and overtly-manipulative choices of words, video editing and sound design, even without any prior experiences in said activities.

If you are a Twosetviolin viewer (or one of a similar channel), you would probably be able to detect fake musical performances in films and TV shows, even without any prior experiences in musical performances.

3. The awareness about public personas

Youtube fans are becoming more cognisant about public personas.

They know how Youtubers behave on camera do not always represent their true selves and they have learned to differentiate the masks from the true faces. The fact that some Youtubers constantly switch personas in the same videos force viewers to be attentive of the behavioural changes.

Yes, idiots who easily fall for personas still exist. But, I notice their presence has waned for the past few years.

4. The embrace of irony and post-irony

I previously said that internet consumers can be hostile towards ‘fakeness’. Well, that is not entirely accurate.

‘Enjoying things ironically’ is a thing and online, it is very widespread. It is socially acceptable to enjoy things because they are aesthetically-bad and, consequentially, some content creators love making content that is meant to be enjoyed ironically.

Scripted vlogs are one of those ironically enjoyable things.

Vlogs are meant to be unscripted accounts of the Youtubers’ lives and any scripted moments easily stand out, thanks to their glaringly plastic quality. But, as long as the creators do not claim their works to be factual, the viewers will be able to enjoy the artificiality.

Post-ironic content is as popular as the ironic one, if not more. While it still involves irony, it also thrives to blur the lines between it and sincerity, forcing the viewers to work harder to separate the two.

I was introduced to the concept of post-irony by Youtuber Nerd City, who asserted that post-ironic aesthetic on Youtube was meant to defy the saccharine and overtly-manufactured one approved by the Youtube establishment. While I was never a fan of creators like Filthy Frank due to the borderline transgressive nature of their works, I cannot help myself from holding their rebellious intent in high esteem.

So…?

Obviously, you don’t have to turn future generations into internet addicts. Schools can simply start teaching basic communication and media skills.

The problem is I don’t know which specific skills that should be taught and how they can be integrated into existing curricula. I am also unsure about the necessity of theoretical media studies in this case.

Oh, and I doubt many will acknowledge the importance of media literacy. Persuasion is also an issue.

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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