Imperial system: visualisation, heat and us

In one of my blogposts, I asserted that my problem with imperial system was not the system itself, it was the people who insist it is more sensical and systematic than metric.

Some time after I published it, I found two more pro-imperial arguments.

One is about visualisation. Some believe imperial units are better because they are easier to visualise than the extra-detailed metric ones, especially regarding height. When I asserted that it was a matter of upbringing, one of them claimed to be a non-American and, despite growing metric, they still preferred imperial for the easier visualisation.

But, the more I read their arguments words per words, the more unconvinced I become. Everything they said was not even remotely tangible and objective. All they did was describing how their own mind works; they might as well retell their imaginations. While I acknowledge the validity of their anecdotes, they are not scientific evidences.

Then, there is also the Fahrenheit and the human bodies argument.

Some argue Fahrenheit makes more sense because it measures how our corporeal bodies react to different levels of heat and cold. Even if what they say is true (I never bother to fact check), it further proves the inferiority of Fahrenheit.

In case they forget, the universe does not revolve around us and human body temperature is certainly not the only thing science cares about. While the human-centrism isn’t necessarily conceited, it certainly makes the approach far from unbiased.

Listening to pro-imperial arguments makes me even more pro-metric.

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Being civil

No, it is not as good as some people think they are.

People -me included- often have positive receptions of old footage of debates, especially when they involve bigots and their opponents.

I love watching the footage because the anti-bigots -who tended to be from marginalised groups- were able to intellectually eviscerate their opponents calmly; not once they raised their voices and resorted to personal attacks. I wish I am someone who is capable of calmly roasting my opponents.

But, it seems many other people are inspired by the old footage for the wrong reasons.

Very frequently, they would praise people in the olden days for their ability to stay civil, regardless of their opponents’ views. If the debates involve trivial topics like our tastes in foods and entertainment, then I am all for the civility.

But, if they involve topics like “should we treat our fellow human beings like actual human beings?”, then why should we celebrate the civility? What’s so wholesome about being nice towards those who dehumanise their fellow human beings?

Call me radical. But, we have no obligations to be nice to bigots. In fact, I have no moral qualms about being uncivil against them. It will be a set back for causes, that’s for sure. But, there is nothing immoral about giving them less than stellar treatments.

The root of the bothsideism is very telling. It is either an extreme case of moral relativism OR they realise how horrible their opinions are and they want to persuade the world that no one should face social consequences for their horrible opinions.

From my experiences, it is often the latter.

Personally, I believe the problem is many think civility is the only bare minimum out there. Somehow, morality is optional.

If morality is also the bare minimum of most people, what we debate about would be a lot different. Instead of the justifiability of bigotry, we would have debates on how to fight it.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see anything wrong about debating bigots. But, there should be no pretence that the debates are about accepting the possibility of them being right.

If we embrace the pretence, the debates will give an illusion of equal validity of all opinions. Whether you like it or not, there are such thing as wrong opinions and it dishonest to believe otherwise.

You cannot expect me to believe that dehumanising hatred of inconsequential human differences is on equal ground with understanding and coexistence. The former actually breeds prejudice and violence. The latter? They create peace and harmony.

I do realise my argument also applies to science vs pseudoscience debates. But, I focus on bigotry instead because it riles me up even more.

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Being Indonesian 2

 

This is a somewhat loose English translation of this essay.

On Facebook, there are lots of Indonesians who say we should appreciate our government’s efforts in handling the ongoing pandemic; for them, the government has done their best and there is no country that competently handles this crisis.

Of course, only fucktards believe that.

First of all, instead of being alert and doing any preventative measures, the government chose to be cocky.

We are told our country can competently handle the plague, even though our healthcare is abysmal and has been since the dawn of time. Since when our country is a healthcare champion?

We are also told our country is divinely blessed by the Almighty, as if we are the only country that deserves the blessing. How can we say that we, a country of savages, deserve it?

Don’t forget that last February, the government prepared 72 billion Rupiahs fund for foreign influences so they could improve our country’s image, as if the government already gave up even before the plague came approaching.

Second, there are obviously countries that skilfully handle this pandemic.

In South Korea, the virus has been plaguing since late January and their death toll is 211. In Malaysia, outbreak started in late January, their death toll is 70. In New Zealand, outbreak started in late February, their death toll is 4. In Singapore, outbreak started in late January, their death toll is 7.*

Taiwan is geographically close to China and has lots of flights from and to China. But, their death toll is 6. Taiwan has been implementing preventative measures since December; they acted so fast, they didn’t need a lockdown! If they were slow, the outbreak would have started and claimed victims before New Year.*

Indonesia? The outbreak started in early March, our death toll is 306, higher than the number of people who have recovered.*

Someone ‘refuted’ my statement by reminding me that we live in Indonesia and the foreign methods may not work here.

Even though there is a truth in that, the problem is our method of handling the outbreak is to be conceited and the foreign method is to be vigilant! The ‘refutation’ is nothing but a rambling of pea-brained reactionary and it lacks any common sense.


We frequently condemn our government which we perceive as corrupt. But, every time they receive foreign condemnation, we defend them! We want to be proud of our country so much, we are willing to defend our country on the world stage, even though we are obviously the wrong one!

If we want to be proud of our own country, shouldn’t we be strongly-principled and sternly hold our government and fellow citizens accountable?

Every time we are suggested to use new methods, we always say they are only suitable for other countries and think ours perfectly suit our country, even though many of our methods are clearly defective and aggravating the problems!

We also the foreign methods will erode our national identity.

If we are really worried about the uniqueness of our nation, why don’t we preserve our cultural heritages more diligently? Why do have to maintain lifestyles that clearly handicap the growth of our nation?

Idiocy, degeneracy and close-mindedness have been so deeply ingrained in our country, we think those are the requirements we need to fulfil if we want to be Indonesians.


There is one governmental effort worthy of praise: legally pursuing those who evict medical workers from their rented houses and reject the burials of victims in their villages.

If the legal actions are executed, I doubt all of those people will end up remorseful. But, I hope they are branded as ungodly beings, albeit temporarily.

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*As of the time when I wrote the original Indonesian essay.

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Pop science, we will always need it

When I say ‘we’, I actually mean ‘I’.

Is pop science guilty of oversimplification and sometimes misinformation? Absolutely yes.

Should we get rid of it? Over my rotting, maggot-infested, bloated dead body.

Because I grew up watching Bill Nye and reading those Indonesian-translations of foreign science books (encyclopaedias included), I ended up loving natural sciences. I was mesmerised by how they guided me to unearth and cherish the allure of the universe. Together with my favourite films, they made my childhood magical.

My love of them started diminishing when I started studying them in schools. There was no more sense of awe and inquisitiveness, there was only obligation to memorise things for the grades; many others studied them because they wanted to look smart. For me, natural sciences had mutated into lifeless entities programmed to make robots out of us.

If it wasn’t for access to cable TV and the internet, my relationships with them would end like mine with math: dead with zero change of resurrection. The documentaries on Discovery, NatGeo and the BBC persistently illuminated the dying flame in me throughout my school years.

Of course, as I said in the beginning, pop science is guilty of oversimplification and misinformation and one may argue my understanding of science is deeply-flawed.

It is indeed a reasonable counter-argument. But, after becoming an internet addict, my favourite pop science works are now on Youtube; despite their imperfections, channels like Kurzgesagt, ASAPScience, Aspect Science, MinuteEarth, It’s Okay To Be Smart, PBS Eons and SciShow have upped my appreciation of science.

They have shown me how science is never about knowing absolute facts; instead, science is all about constantly enhancing our prevailing knowledge and acknowledges that even our physical world is full of greyness. Combined with their willingness to rectifying their own past content, they have also shown how science is all about embracing healthy scepticism (not to be confused with accusing everything of being a conspiracy).

As wonderful as they are, the books and documentaries I grew up with failed to show the wonderful nuances. While this can be attributed to my then-undeveloped brain, they do mostly focus on absolute facts and very little on the intricacies.

If you ask me ‘should we get rid of pop science?’ again, my answer would still be ‘over my rotting, maggot-infested, bloated dead body’. But, I would also say we need media watchdogs.

Yes, we have been having them since forever. But, even though I can’t say if there is a shortage of them, I can definitely say we need lots of them and we need them to distribute their findings to the masses rather than being content about having niche ‘audiences’.

Correlating to the topic in question, I believe every media watchdog must have at least two teams dedicated to scrutinise works of science journalism and pop science: one specialises in medicine and one for the other disciplines.

I want to emphasise on medicine because medical quackery is arguably the most dangerous form of pseudoscience. No matter how frustrating creationism or flat earth myth can be, I have never heard anyone getting physical harmed because of them. But, I do have heard of people getting physically harmed by scientifically unproven or debunked treatments.

I believe getting rid of pop science is a bad idea. There will always be shitty teachers who fail to show the beauty of natural sciences and their roles in profoundly shaping humanity. As flawed as pop science can be, it knows how to make science captivating for the laypeople to learn about.

If there is no pop science, they would definitely be more people who see their favourite preachers, conspiracists and snake oil salespeople as their ‘science teachers’.

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The problem with imperial system…

… Is not on the system itself. It is on the people who use it.

As a non-American who definitely uses the metric system, I genuinely don’t mind if people use the imperial one. If Americans want to preserve it for cultural reasons and for its perceived playfulness, I don’t mind it at all.

What I do mind is them insisting that imperial system is the best system.

Let’s see…

1 mile is equal to 8 furlongs, is equal to 1760 yards, is equal to 5280 feet, is equal to 63.360 inches. Compare that to their metric counterparts in which 0.001 kilometre is equal to 0.01 hectometre, is equal to 0.1 decametre, is equal to 1 metre, is equal to 10 decimetres, is equal to 100 centimetres, is equal to 1000 millimetres.

From that one paragraph alone, you can see how metric system is a base 10 measurement system in which conversion from one unit to another can be done by simply moving the decimal point; the existence of the metric staircase eases the learning process. Heck, throughout my school life as a math-hating student, metric system was one of the very few things I had no problems learning about in math classes!

The values of imperial units, on the other hand, do not form a consistent pattern and it forbids us from having an all-inclusive conversion method; we are forced to memorise one conversion method for each pair of units. I don’t know how people who struggle with math survive in America.

If anything, the name ‘imperial system’ feels like a misnomer because the word ‘system’ means a group of interconnected things…and imperial units do not naturally interconnect with each other; we have to manufacture the connections ourselves!

Okay, that’s a bit misleading.

Back in the day, most people (presumably) wouldn’t find any of the existing measurement systems unsystematic as every single one of them was unsystematic; comparing defective things with each other would not reveal their own defects.

But, nowadays, the metric system has entered the stage and the comparison reveals a juxtaposition for everyone to behold! Believing in imperial’s non-existing superiority is no longer excusable!

And no, it is not a matter of differing opinions. My argument is based on the numbers themselves and they clearly show how orderly and precise the metric system is!

The imperial worshippers either have not learned the metric system but they are arrogant enough to have strong opinions about it*… or they have learned it but their attachment to traditions clouds their judgement.

Don’t know which one’s worse.

And no, imperial does not contribute to America’s scientific triumph.

Like the rest of the world, American scientists use metric because they are also aware of its efficiency. The triumph exists not because of imperial’s mass usage, but despite of it.

Just like how the world respects America not because of the existence of Americans like Donald Trump, but despite of it. The world respects America because of Americans who are the exact opposites of him!

 

*Admittedly, I can get too opinionated in topics I know little about. But, I am confident that’s not case regarding ‘metric vs imperial’ because I have studied both.

I attended one international school and my British math textbook used imperial units as Brits still use both systems. After I started becoming an internet addict, I used a chunk of my spare time studying imperial units as well.

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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.

I support monarchism because…

*puts on a mask*

Being a monarch is a hard-earned job!

If you have to compare between a person who gets his/her high-earning and high-ranking job by working all the way from the bottom and a person who gets her/his because of his/her lineage, it is obvious the latter is hardworking one!

It is just common sense that the former is a sign of laziness and the latter is extremely hard to achieve! Most of us have never made any efforts to be born into the right families and monarchs are the only ones who have achieved such high accomplishment!

It is frustrating how this thing needs to be said in the first place!

The monarchs make me feel happy!

Who cares about the education, healthcare, economy and political stability?

The only things that matter are my feelings! The purpose of human existence is to make ME happy!

And the only ones who can make ME happy are the monarchs!

They make ME feel extremely good about the world we live in, making ME forget about how fucking shitty the world we live in!

They are literally Gods!

Nepotism is everywhere!

It has been established that the ethical and moral legitimacy of an action is determined by its popularity among the masses. Appeal to popularity is literally a principal accepted in logic and ethics!

That’s the reason why logicians and ethicists support monarchism: because it is based on nepotism and nepotism is literally everywhere!

I mean, literally every person has settled that murder and rape are ethically and morally-acceptable because of how their societal prevalence!

If we have settled that, why can’t we listen to the experts and settle that monarchism is not only acceptable but also good for our political establishments?

*takes off the mask*

 

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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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Groundbreaking… yet unfeeling

I am sure many of you, my non-existing readers, have heard of the legendary band Queen and its magnum opus, Bohemian Rhapsody.

If one has a relatively sophisticated taste in music (shamelessly patting myself on the back), one would understand why it is such a great song. It refuses to have the typical song structure, it has a very dynamic music arrangement and it has such bizarre lyrics which demand the full attention of the listeners (who can speak English, of course)…

… And still manages to become a popular hit, despite or probably because of its eccentricity. Not to mention it makes an extremely fun sing-along.

It is both a critical and a commercial acclaim. It is indeed special.

But, it is not my favourite Queen’s song.

The combination of cyptic lyrics and unpredictable musical arrangement gives us a clear message: the song is open to infinite amount of interpretations and has the potential to be inherently meaningless.

I cannot speak for others. But, while I can intellectually attach myself to the song, its enigmatic nature prevents me from doing so emotionally. It feels like just another art work for me to be flatulently explicative about.

Personally, I prefer Somebody To Love.

While it is often described as a technically-challenging song to perform (I am not a musician so I cannot say), I can see why it is not that legendary outside the band’s fandom.

Compared to BR, STL sounds pathetically ‘normal’. The musical arrangement is not innovative, the song structure is very much pop and, of course, the lyrics are fathomable.

But, because of the fathomability, the song allows me to be emotionally-attached to it and because of the personal nature of the lyrics, the attachment forms almost effortlessly.

The song is about one’s spiritual frustration about the absence of a romantic partner. As a listener, I definitely don’t feel the narrator’s anguish myself; it is dishonest for me to say I do. But, I acknowledge how the experience can be overwhelming for him. My ability to empathise with him means the narrative being told is belieavably human. Well, for me, at least.

However, even though the explanation makes sense, it still feels insuffiencient for me.

BR was not the only baffling works I have ever encountered. I am also emotionally-attached to the short animated film Hedgehog in the Fog and the surrealist dramedy film Arizona Dream despite their mystifying nature.

Of course, I also have my own personal interpretations for those two motion pictures; therefore, watching them is an intimate experience for me. Compare that to BR for which I still don’t have any at my disposal.

After I thought about it, there is a more convincing and solid reason for my aloofness towards the song: the live performances.

Both it and STL use the vocal multi-tracking technique to induce the choral atmosphere. But, because BR employs the technique more ostentatiously, it couldn’t be performed entirely live. Every time the band performed the song on stage, the musicians had to go backstage when the pre-recorded opera segment was played. Watching the live performance and witnessing its artificiality would definitely leave a bad taste in my mouth.

STL, on other hand, could be performed entirely live. Despite omitting the gospel-like background vocals emulated by the technique, the live version does not feel incomplete. If anything, the lack of the ‘robotic’ adornment makes the song sounds more emotionally raw, more believably human. Watching its live performance and witnessing would be an ecstatic experience for me.

Of course, one may argue my reasoning is questionable. Why do I have to use STL as a comparison? Why don’t I use other songs? Love Of My Life is arguably also emotionally-charged.

Well, three reasons.

Reason one: It is my personal bias. As much as I admit its artistry, LOML simply does not do it for me. One can catch me listening to STL on repeat. But, one’s chance of catching me listening to LOML is almost zero percent.

Reason two: As I mentioned before, both BR and STL employ the same recording technique. Discussing about how it affects each song’s artistry seems reasonable for me. Comparing two things that still share things in common is an excellent way to perceptively grasp both.

Reason three: I fucking hate fake fans.

Seriously, since that deceitful biopic was released, I noticed an increase of people who claimed to be fans of Queen. I was suspicious the only song they knew and/or loved was BR. One person confirmed my suspicion.

On the music player, I played the band’s Greatest Hits II album which contains Radio Gaga, I Want To Break Free and Under Pressure, which are also well-known among non-fans. That so-called fan said he/she could not recognise any of them and still preferred BR in the end.

If he/she is really a fan, not only he/she would have heard of the band’s other hits, he/she would also have heard of their less well-known works and fucking love them as well!

Such behaviour annoys the shit out of me! I don’t know why some people cannot refrain from declaring themselves big fans of musicians they are clearly not big fans of. Even though I have my share of favourite Queen songs, I still refuse to declare myself a big fan due to my limited knowledge about their discography.

Is that so fucking hard to do?!

Well, it probably fucking is if you ‘like’ things simply because they are popular and you want to look cooler than you really are.