An extremely short defense of ‘Let’s Play’ (and dispelling the myth of sports cultures’ innate superiority)

I used to sneer at anyone who watched sports for fun. Like, come on! What’s so fun about watching others playing sports which we can do ourselves? Shouldn’t it be fun if we are actually physically involved in the activities? I thought sports spectators were a bunch of imbeciles with feeble grasps of reality.

One day, I found Youtubers. It didn’t take me long to idolise some of this ‘unusual’ breed of entertainers. Not surprising considering their humour and intellectualism (*self-praising cough*) were similar to mine. But, I was surprised that some of them were ‘Let’s Play’ Youtubers, aka Youtube gamers.

As the name suggests, they upload videos of themselves playing video games and millions love to watch them. I was never a video game enthusiast myself and yet, I found myself enjoying Let’s Play. But, one day, I had a realisation: it was surprising that I was surprised by this.

Uhm, that’s confusing. I am sorry. Let me explain.

Growing up, I actually enjoyed watching other people playing games. I loved watching adults playing those difficult games, my cousin playing Suikoden II and my sister playing Pokemon Ruby (a reason why my mom bought me Game Boy Advance SP; Pokemon Ruby was the only game I ever played on the device). I was excited as the actual players. To sum it up, I was already a fan of Let’s Play before Youtube existed. So, my love of Youtube gamers should never be a surprise.

Then, I had another realisation: Let’s Play and sports spectatorship are conceptually similar! Both are about us getting excited by watching others doing activities they (seemingly) enjoy! Throughout the years, I constantly looked down on people for embracing such a ridiculous-sounding concept, not realising I have been embracing a similar one throughout my life! Hypocrisy shredding me to worthless, tiny pieces.

(Side note: I realise how the conceptual comparison is a bit flawed. Let’s Play is not always competitive while e-sports always are, just like what we consider to be traditional sports. But, the spectatorship aspect still stands. I hope…)

Brilliant enough to be the first to have such thought, I am not. Countless Facebook comments have pointed out the same thing. They counter equally countless comments that demean Let’s Play videos and anything ‘nerdy’ in general. Sports fans cannot accept that their beloved culture can be similar to the nerd one.

Never mind the denialism. The hostility is unbelievable and unnecessary. In any similar situations, my old self would react in an even more hostile manner. But, nowadays, I try to replace my hostility with something else: pity. Why? Because one does not have to be a genius to see the mindlessness of their anti-nerd culture rhetoric.

One stupid argument states how sports cultures encourage physical fitness. Sports fans love to believe themselves as people who are collectively in good shape. Somehow, loving sports make them instantly fit. Yeah, no.

Sports culture is all about the reverence of teams and athletes, akin to how nerd culture revere creators and their creations. Embracing the importance of physical fitness is and will never be the core. Can you convince me that every single sports fan is in good shape? Can you convince that those fat sports fans are just my hallucinations?

Fat nerds do exist, including the ones on Youtube. But, there are also people who are both nerdier and fitter than me. Some of the nerdy Youtubers I am subscribed are physically fit, way more than most sports fans will ever be (their physique is often credited for their physical attractiveness).

Going back to Let’s Play format, sports fans love to dismiss it as nothing but the worship of ineptitude, unlike sports spectatorship which is absolutely about admiring talents. Yeah, about that…

Admittedly, untalented Youtubers exist; the constant yelling and crude jokes is their way to compensate. But, being Youtubers can also be challenging. You have to be your own host/actor/voice actor, writer (if a script is needed), editor, director, graphic designer (if one needs catchier thumbnails) and PR person; if you are a Youtube gamer, you have to constantly make commentaries when needed, you are often pressured to upload videos daily and actual gaming skill is an asset.

You know what? I really cannot say whether some professional athletes are actually talented or not; I even don’t have the most basic knowledge about them. But, I can say that the spectatorship also includes watching amateurs playing sports; it is often the case in villages, neighbourhoods and schools. As condescending as it sounds, some amateurs are not talented! Watching untalented players is fine. Pretending that sports spectatorship is all about the appreciation of talent is dishonest.

From all anti-nerd culture arguments in existence, probably the most common one argues about nerds’ supposed lack of maturity. Their obsession with fictional worlds is seen as a sign of unwillingness to grow up. Real grown-ups have learned that only real world things matter. Things like sports cultures. Yeah, again, no.

Immaturity does exist among nerds. But, it is less about their supposedly feeble grip of reality and more about their intolerance of differing tastes (yes, the former is actually a rarity). Interfandom conflicts are excessive in nature and unfortunately abundant. Everyone must love what we love… or else.

… And the same mentality exists among sports fans. They also constantly clash with each other. In fact, their conflicts are more dangerous because they occur on the public spheres. Ensuing vandalism and fatalities are never in shortage. It has been covered too many times by the news. How often do you encounter nerdy fandoms inciting brawls in public spaces?

Also, sports fans cannot claim to be more grounded in reality than nerds are. What is tangible about sports cultures? Nothing. The sports indeed are. But, the cultures that revolve around them aren’t. I repeat, sports cultures are about fans getting excited about sports being played by others, not by themselves. They are excited about teams and athletes who don’t know them personally and probably never will. Their excitement is all about irrational emotional attachments. They are excited about nothing.

I was serious about every single one of my statements…. except for the last one. How can I say that sports fans are excited about nothing? Not only it contradicts the beginning of this article where I acknowledge my own hypocrisy, sports fans are clearly excited about something real. I was just using others’ emotions to vilify them.

Yes, when they substitute reason, emotions can be the path to our own downfalls as shown by many sports fans and nerds. They can fiendishly hate anyone and anything who shatters the divine image of the things they love. Imperfection is blasphemous. Their zealotry is comparable to religious fundamentalists’. Unrestrained emotions are dangerous.

But, when healthily composed, emotions are lovely. Our healthy emotional attachments to certain entities show how we are still able to find things to love. They are confirmations of our humanity, in spite of our constant cynicism.

Or maybe the paragraph above is just me projecting myself on others, falsely believing that what I am experiencing is universal. Did I just my article futile?

Oh, and one more thing before I end this worthlessness: emotions are actually tangible. They are the results of the chemical reactions in our brains. They are not as abstract as I wanted to believe.

I am not sure how the fact contributes to this article. I just want to point out the science.

What? 2

I don’t know why. But, I don’t always enjoy shopping for groceries, even though I love to eat. Not to mention that my mind used to be plagued unnerving thoughts while shopping.

At the ‘fresh’ fruit and vegetable sections (In urban Indonesia, fresh produce is not bountiful), I often looked at certain vegetables and thought, ‘there are people who use these as sex toys!’. I don’t know why I had that thought in the first place, considering food sex is not a kink of mine and I hate wasting food.

At the fruit, vegetable and frozen meat sections, I often looked at the produces and thought, ‘I could people with these. I could use them to beat people to death with this!’. This violent thought lingered a lot longer.

One hour and forty-five minutes later.

My mind loves to go everywhere. Instead of thinking about continuing the previous paragraph properly, I prefer to focus on the music I am listening right now (John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine) and to smell the food someone is cooking right now (flour-coated deep fried shrimps and stir-fried broccoli and carrot).

God, now I am distracted again because I am listening to the orchestral rendition of a musical composition written by a Brazilian.

Three days later.

I love to let myself distracted by everything. Foods, music, Youtube videos, life in general. Maybe it’s ADD, maybe it’s Maybelline. I try my best to not be distracted…… and that’s why I am playing an MP4 video right now on my computer instead of typing. Slow claps for me.

I have to pause it now. The video is an almost two-hour-long PBS documentary about Darwin’s evolution theory. It talked about how even Darwin himself didn’t know how evolution happened. But, he knew it happened based on his observations about the physical world, which in this case were the finches on Easter islands.

I hate how people use the word ‘theory’. A theory is not a guess. A theory is something that we come up after the research, not before. A theory is something that can be supported by further researches. When people think about theory, they actually think about hypothesis. Wait, no. Even a hypothesis should be followed by research. It sets off the research; it is not the ending. So, when people think about theory, they actually think about mindless guessing.

As annoying as it is, this ain’t surprising. People love to think scientists are professional guessers because they are projecting. They love to make mindless guesses in their daily lives. To justify that flaw of theirs, they accuse scientists, the so-called educated people, of doing the same. They want to feel good about their horrendeously imperfect selves.

I hate it when people romanticise each other. When certain public figures become more famous because of their good deeds, we love to make Gods out of them. It is unthinkable that they can commit any sins. In fact, we will guilt trip anyone who don’t follow those celebrities’ footsteps, anyone who refuse to admire them. This is reflected in our pop culture.

More of than not, you will encounter lots of highly-moral protagonists, so moral that they are unrealistic. The more critical-minded among us will be repulsed by such unnaturally perfect beings. The villains and anti-heros are more real. Apart from their flaws, they also possess positive traits that can be useful for the good guys.

Traits like the ability to see the shades of grey in life. The villains and anti-heros often have more nuanced outlooks. Not only they are more real, they are more competent! Like it or not, that is why those dark characters can still have large fandoms, sometimes bigger than the ones for the good guys.

Primer: when a film feels close to home

The first time I knew about Primer, it was around the year 2010. It attracted my attention because it is a highly-acclaimed, low-budget sci-fi film, directed and written by Shane Carruth, a software engineer who has a degree in Mathematics and who hadn’t made a feature film before, with the help of a small crew of five. At that time, I did not have the desire to watch it.

Seven years later, I encountered the title again and, this time, I was livid to watch it. I finally watched it on December 9. I had heard many good words about Primer. But, even after reading countless positive endorsements, I was still emotionally unprepared.

I am not ready to dissect its unconventional and deeply complex narrative; it will probably take me years and many buckets of tears to untangle the devilishly-intricate chronology. Heck, I will never start on dissecting the science and evaluating its soundness; kudos to Carruth for not dumbing down the jargon-laced dialogues. But, I am ready to talk about its ‘realism’.

Of all the films I have watched, this has to be among the most realistic. I am deeply immersed in the story to the point of almost feeling at home. When I thought other films were bona fide, Primer brings it to the next level. The fact that it is sci-fi can be surprising to some people. For me, it is partially surprising. Let me elaborate.

Believe it or not, speculative genres like sci-fi are able to embody realism. Not literally, of course. Instead, they make use of allegories and ideas to illustrate the real world. In fact, the so-called more ‘realistic’ genres often fail to explore real life issues. So, I am not surprised by the sense of realism.

What surprises me is how near-perfect the immersion is. Despite dealing with real life issues, the audience is still emotionally detached from the characters and stories in most fantastical films. Thematically, Primer is not special as it deals with unethical use of technology, a cliche of the sci-fi genre. But, I have my own ‘theories’ about how the immersion came into being (I use the ‘t word’ very loosely here).

The directing and editing were so neatly-done, they look like the works of an experienced professional. The cinematography, however, is grainy at times; it still reminds me about the film’s micro budget. But, that seems superficial. I am sure there are other elements, more abstract ones that contribute to the immersion. (Oh, and condescending tone in this paragraph is unintentional. My apologies).

The special effects are almost non-existent in Primer, unusual for a film of such genre. Apart from how impressive it is to convince the audience that this special effects-deprived film is sci-fi, I also believe it’s a contributing factor to its realism; the audience knows how special effects are just visual ‘fabrication’. I am not saying that special effects ruin the immersion. I just think that, more of than not, they are only used to emphasise escapism.

Previously, I mentioned about how Carruth refused to dumb down the scientific jargons. Besides its praiseworthiness, it also entices me to believe in the authenticity of the science. In many sci-fi films, the lack of technical language make them look disproportionately more ‘fi’ than the ‘sci’. The rest of the dialogues, however, are very down-to-earth.

When the main characters are not speaking jargons, they are speaking in an everyday language. No floweriness, just mundanity we are familiar with. Don’t get wrong. I do love poetic language; it can make great narrations and monologues. But, admittedly, it can be uncomfortably artificial in dialogues.

Oh, and the acting. For me, the lead actors’ performance radiated sincerity. They effortlessly performed dialogues that were cut off mid-sentences and overlapped each other, which parallel real-life casual conversations; I wouldn’t be surprised if they improvised their lines. Also, despite not being overly-animated, they were still able to convey emotions; not every normal living person is loud and extroverted.

I believe those elements contribute to my wonderfully sublime experience. Their audibility and visuality make them relatively tangible. But, I should not forget one abstract element which can be easily missed: the depth.

In this case, it is less about the depth itself and more about its presentation. Some films, both commercial and arthouse, try too hard to look profound, they end up bearing an image of pompousness and superficiality. Primer is the complete opposite.

Instead of a film with deep and hidden meanings, it merely presents itself as a story of two men who accidentally invented a time machine, which they use for their selfish gains. Basically, humans who become corrupt when the opportunity arises. Even when you are not one of them, I am sure you are mindful of how irresistible the dark side can be. Quite mundane if you think about it.

As I said before, with its theme of technological abuse, Primer is not thematically groundbreaking. But, instead of dwelling on it, the film treats the overused subject matter as nothing more than an accessory; it prefers to accentuate the genuine human story.

I really wish more films (and TV shows as well) follow Primer‘s footsteps. More mundane languages, more natural acting, more sincere human quality. Obviously, such motion pictures exist. But, I just wish they were more bountiful and more widely-accepted. One can dream.

Oh, and as I am typing this, I have only watched the film twice. In the future, after watching it for the umpteenth time, I will certainly change my opinions. It would be disappointing if I fail to refine my reasoning and knowledge.

I don’t get the Potheads

No, not stoners. Harry Potter fans.

Well, I have yet to read the first three novels and all but one supplemental book. I have yet to read The Cursed Child, the official HP fan fiction. But, I know that I am a fan.

Harry Potter is one of the things I love the most in life. Love the characters. Love the thematics. Love the vast world-building. I’ve also made my own (borderline pretentious) interpretations about the series. Harry Potter is a huge inspiration in my life.

But, if you have read my past articles (as if!), you would know how I despise fandoms, especially the ones where I supposedly belong to. I did a whole article dedicated to bashing my fellow bros aka Pewdiepie fans. I am going to do the same thing to my fellow potheads.

Just like how bros misunderstand Pewdiepie as a persona, I believe Potheads also do the same thing with their beloved series. In this case, they distort the messages to be the complete opposite.

Hogwarts school of hypocrisy and misguided elitism

Potheads love to lump themselves to the four Hogwarts houses. Gryffindor for the courageous, brave and determined ones, Slytherin for the ambitious and cunning ones, Ravenclaw for the witty, learned and wise ones…. and Hufflepuff for the sad, soon-to-be-nobodies weaklings.

Hufflepuff is a sad story. It has an unflattering image not because its values are debilitating, but because they are empowering: Hard work, patience, loyalty and fair play.

It is arguable whether loyalty has an important role in it. But, you cannot deny how important the other three are in our learning experiences, in and outside the classrooms. Learning requires efforts (hard work), time (patience) and ethics (fair play). Hufflepuff’s values are essentials in education.

Don’t get me wrong. I do think every single Hogwarts house cherishes commendable values. We must thrive to embrace them in how we live our life. But, Potheads often forget that Hogwarts is a school and knowing our priorities is key.

You may be a courageous Gryffindor who thinks you can brave the exam. But, if you think you can do so without sparing time for after-class study, you are a prime example of the blurred line between bravery and idiocy. You may as well start a magical duel while wandless.

You may be a knowledgeable and intelligent Ravenclaw. But, if you are too lazy to put them into use and too lazy to learn more, your knowledge and intelligence would have less worth than trolls’ diarrhoeic shit. Do you seriously think mere brain equals instant success?

You may be an ambitious Slytherin who competitively pursues academic achievements. But, if you are willing to cheat to get what you desire, you don’t deserve the rewards. You are not entitled to something just because you feel so. In fact, outside the school setting, you would be considered a felon. It is surprising that Death Eaters are not dominated by Slyther… oh, wait.

I believe that elitism can be a force of good. Demanding the most skilled and learned to perform the most important jobs is reasonable and perfectly human. Not only such elitism is perfectly fine, I think it should be encouraged in our lives. But, that is not the case with Hogwarts.

From all of four Hogwarts founders, only Helga Hufflepuff understood the essences of education. The rest thought education should only be reserved for anyone who possess those irrelevant traits. It is the same as making Gods out of people for simply being rich (whose money may also be inherited). It is a misguided form of elitism.

And just like any forms of misguided elitism, those three Hogwarts houses are racked with barefaced hypocrisy. Despite constantly patting themselves on the back, not every Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Slytherin embodies the values of their respective house.

Peter Pettigrew was a Gryffindor. He did not have the gut to face his ‘best friends’ whom he betrayed, did not have the gut to face Voldemort whom he swore loyalty to. He was too much of a coward to confront the consequences of his own actions.

Slytherins like Draco Malfoy, Severus Snape and Horace Slughorn are strongly driven by sky-high ambitions. But then, there are also Slytherins like Crabbe and Goyle whose only ambitions is to be the ‘little’ bitches of Draco Malfoy, world’s number one Daddy’s boy.

But, by far, Ravenclaw is the worst house regarding this. From all the Ravenclaws that have interacted with Harry, none of them seem to embody wits, wisdom and love of knowledge. Despite her magical prowess, Luna Lovegood is also a conspiracy theorist and literally the Anti-Hermione. Cho Chang is an expert in being a guilt-tripping bitch. Gilderoy Lockhart is a narcissist whose only skills are obliviating others’ memories and stealing their works (I have to give Flitwick a pass. Apart from his magical prowess, we know little about him).

But, the worst thing is, all of the intelligent characters in the series are non-Ravenclaws. Hermione Granger, Albus Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall, Ginny Weasley, Cedric Diggory, Severus Snape, Lily Evans, Tom Riddle aka Voldy, Remus Lupin, the Weasley twins, just to name a few. Heck, even Harry and Draco seem more intelligent than those Ravenclaws.

If you value something so much, why don’t you practice it instead ? Why keep preaching to resisting ears? Is it about trying to impose an air of superiority while simultaneously sneering at others because you suffer from insecurity and trying to compensate for it? I guess we will never know.

Yes, I know this is unconvincing. It is never addressed either by the characters or Rowling herself. This is purely my interpretation. But, I have another opinion about the series, which I am more confident about.

Marauders’ so-called integrity

Say ‘Wormtail was a cowardly traitor’ and every pothead would nod in agreement. Say ‘the Marauders were a bunch of remorseless bullies’ and you would encounter polarising reactions.

Regarding that, the HP fandom community is divided into two factions: one who sees the Marauders (apart from Wormtail) as heroic angels and the other sees them as a gang of bullies.

I belong to the latter.

It is explicitly shown in Order of Phoenix and Deathly Hallows how they made Snape’s life a living hell. They even started bullying him before their first arrival at Hogwarts. They didn’t see him as a human being worthy of respect.

“But, Remus Lupin didn’t participate in the bullying. Also, James and Sirius stopped bullying Snape after the former dated Lily.”

Remus was not a bully. But, his friends were ones and that didn’t seem to mind him. It does not matter if you never participate in it. If you tolerate any acts that harm your fellow human beings, you are also a complicit.

And yes, they did stop bullying Snape after James dated Lily. They did mature as individuals. But, there is still no indication of remorse. End of torment does not mean repentance. It just means the tormenters stop giving a shit about their victims.

In fact, when reminiscing about their past in Order of Phoenix, Remus and Sirius saw themselves as nothing but misbehaved children. I don’t care if you are a six-year-old or a sixty-year-old. If you are a bully, you are a fucking bully! Do not sugarcoat it! Your age cannot and will never absolve you from your sins!

After learning the truth, Harry didn’t end up hating James and Sirius. I mean, one is his biological father and the other is a surrogate. Some of us cannot stop loving our loved ones even after their horrible deeds; it is a human thing. But, Harry also stopped seeing them as perfectly angelic figures. Harry has learned to accept that humans are creatures of many shades of grey.

Closing statements

My identity and a bit of Newt

If I have to choose one house, I would definitely choose Hufflepuff based on the reasons I stated above. But, deep down, I am not a Hufflepuff. I am a Ravenclaw.

My idea of fun involves having intellectual conversations, watching documentaries and arthouse films, visiting museums (another reason why I go out, besides foods), reading and googling (mostly googling) for knowledge that has no practical purposes, (over-) analysing works of arts and entertainment and pondering about everything that intrigues me. People have called me a pretentious little prick, which is not that inaccurate to be honest. I often look down on others for simplistic thinking which I sometimes feel guilty about. Sometimes.

That proves how not only I am staunch Ravenclaw, I can also be anti-Hufflepuff at times. And still, if I am enrolled at Hogwarts (as if!), I would choose Hufflepuff over any other houses. As much I love them, my values cannot be of any service or even appropriate in every setting. I have to admit that mine are far from perfect.

Oh, and don’t preach me about the so-called perfection of Gryffindor. It is a house where self-righteous pricks congregate their self-righteous arses from which they preach their self-righteousness. Instead of genuinely courageous beings, I often see Gryffindors as the fictional equivalents of Social Justice Warriors, constantly derailing their own progressive causes.

I am going on a tangent here.

On Pottermore, there is an article called 7 ways Hufflepuff are way better than you realise. From the title alone, you can tell it is one of those amateurishly-written blogs (yes, I am projecting). Some of the points make sense, albeit weakly argued. Others are unfounded altogether. I would be disappointed if Rowling wrote it herself. But, there is one point that attracts my eyes: the house’s lack of conventionality.

The article uses Tonks’ appearance as a representative of said unorthodoxy. But, it is too shallow of an example. We need something that goes beyond the physicality, something more profound and.. I can think of one example: Newt Scamander.

Google ‘Newt Scamander masculinity’ and you will see articles about how the magizoologist defies the traditional masculinity. Instead of being conceited, insensitive and showy, he is nurturing, emotionally sensitive and unassuming. He is a deviant male lead. Even in this regard, Harry Potter is still a cliche character. Unsurprisingly, deviance like this one is not universally loved.

In his Pop Culture Detective video, Jonathan McIntosh shows how film reviewers from mainstream media outlets criticise the character for his supposed lack of charm. Their minds are still indoctrinated by the cultural establishment to love – and only love – what we have been accustomed to. Feel pity for them.

What is surprising about Newt Scamander’s ‘deviant’ personality is not the deviance itself. Many works of arts and entertainments have violated the norms since the beginning of time and will always do. As zealous as they are enforced, disobedience should be expected once in a while.

What is surprising about Newt Scamander is him not being a major character in an indie or arthouse film. He is a major character in Harry Potter, a profitable franchise with strong mainstream popularity. Pop culture is infamous for its obedience to the establishment. The fact that a form deviance can exist in such sphere is a marvel in itself.

I am disappointed with myself. As someone who loves to analyse entertainment and hates traditional gender roles, I should have spotted it myself.

The lesser bullies

Snape is indeed a well-crafted character. He has sacrificed his body and soul for the sake of defeating Voldemort. It is dishonest for us to dismiss both. But, at the same time, they cannot erase one absolute fact: he is a fucking horrible person!

He abuses his power as a teacher, he preys on vulnerable students and he finds pleasure in torment! Praise his heroism. Praise how well-crafted he is as a character. But, there is no sound justification for us to romanticise someone who can be described as a heartless bully…

… And the same mindset should be applied to the Marauders.

Yes, I know. In comparison (Wormtail excluded), they are a lot kinder, warmer and more virtuous than Snape will ever be. But, again, you cannot ignore the facts that James and Sirius are also remorseless bullies and Lupin consciously tolerates them. They are the reason why his heart is ravaged with a sickness called bullying.

Despite everything, some of you still lay your eyes on the Marauders through rose-coloured lenses. This blog is not the first time I spout such rant. It seems nothing will convince you to take them off. But, I will keep trying.

I have this one trick, though. A trick so painfully obvious, anyone would have thought about it long ago: stop comparing them with Snape! Of course, they would look angelic with him in the picture. From now on, remove him out of it! Judge every single one for who they really are, not for someone else is.

The greater bully will always look worse than the lesser bully. But, like it or not, the lesser bully is still a bully.

It seems to contradict what I said in the beginning about how I love the characters. Well, I do love them because they are very grey.

Okay, a few characters are indeed black and white. The series also has the cliche ‘good vs evil’ theme. But, pay attention and you’ll see how complex many of the characters are.

When we think we know them, they suddenly reveal ‘new’ aspects about themselves; they are like infinite onions where every layer embodies a surprise. They also possess wonderful imperfection; their strengths and weaknesses make them feel more relatable, more human. Real humans are always more complex than we like to think. It’s sad how I have to point out this obvious fact.

We cannot completely hate many of the characters. We also cannot romanticise them as well. Once again, they are of many shades of grey. That’s the reason why I love them.

BvS: a never-ending, action-infested clusterf**k… with moments of surprising depth (a shamelessly late review)

From the title alone, one can tell I will be bashing the film which many people have relieved themselves on for the past two years. So, if you are a fanboy or fangirl who only see imaginary flawlessness in your beloved motion picture work, click away.

Or don’t. Besides bashing the hell out of it, I am also planning to discuss about the film’s positive aspects AND attempting to persuade you to reflect on the dissenting voices. I don’t care if I will be persuasive or sound like a self-righteous prick. Okay, now let’s start with the beating.

First of all, the story is horrendously tedious! Not slow-pacing, but tedious. A slow-paced story encourages us to patiently wait or even to not expect anything at all; we are encouraged to relish the present. This is more common in arthouse films where immersion is crucial and non-negotiable in every scene.

A tedious story, on the other hand, keeps lingering on the same points despite its promise of incoming fresh scenes. It is nothing but a spawn of broken promises and aesthetic disappointment. Unless you are easily awed by mindless jam-packed actions, there’s nothing that can save us from a film’s tiresome pacing.

In fact, BvS is unbearable because of its mixing of tedious pacing and high octane actions. The three-hour-long duration makes it even more gruelling. I left the cinema feeling mentally exhausted. Personally, I don’t mind the exhaustion as long as it is legitimate. A film may provoke strong emotions that last for hours (or days). It may also provoke us to think hard as it is either loaded with information or confusing at the first watch.

Confusing. Also what BvS is to me. On this part, I am not sure if the problem is with me. Maybe I failed to pick up vague hints that can enlighten me about the story. Maybe I was (and still am) unfamiliar with the original source material. If it’s the latter, we have a problem.

An adaptation must be able to stand by itself. The original source materials are its inspirations, not its extensions. If we need to explore them for more info, why bother adapting them in the first place? Is the entertainment really less about quality and more about profit-making? Did I just ask a rhetorical question where I seemed to fake some level of profundity? But, as I said, I am still not sure if the problem is with me.

Oh, and I am going to end the bashing with something predictable: Martha. Arguably one of the most mockable moments in the history of mockable entertainment. Two individuals immediately bond with each other just because their mothers share the same name. The heartwarming charade is so brazenly displayed, its so-called warmth becomes hollow and insincere.

And yet, meaningless and deceitful facades still dupe us. We still hate subtlety because it requires understanding of life beyond what the basic senses tell us. That’s unfortunate since subtlety is one thing that brings depth to works of arts and entertainment. Subtlety helps us to dodge traps like self-conceited pretentiousness, sickly sweet sentimentality or, in the case of Martha: the movie, shameless idiocy.

Enough with the bashing. As I said in the beginning, I will also talk about the film’s positive features. Just because I hate something, that doesn’t mean it absolutely lacks any redeeming values. In this case, it is the not-so-subtle menace shown in two scenes.

The first one is Batman’s nightmare scene. Apart from the drastic change of setting and Batman’s voice, it doesn’t feel dreamlike at first. The ensuing chaos also seems normal. But suddenly, in the middle of the mayhem, winged-demons are arriving from the sky, snatching every single human that is seen as a threat. It literally looks the beginning of God’s wrath.

Except they are not demons; they are not even supernatural. Once you take a close look, you will see they are mere human soldiers, completely clad in black armour and adorned with mechanical wings. But, how the scene was crafted really does wonders.

Camera angle, showing the ‘demonic’ soldiers’ daunting arrivals from the sky. Background music, laced with droning male vocals. The limited colour palette of light brown and black, evoking hell on earth and man’s inner darkness respectively. As a result, those flying soldiers look like they were born among hellfire. Even the wingless and more human-looking soldiers look demonic as well. It is a very nightmarish. But, not the scariest scene ever made.

Heck, it’s not even the peak of the film’s disquieting atmosphere. For me, Lex Luthor’s painting scene is the winner for possessing greater subtlety and requiring more in-depth dissection. The said painting depicts the biblical angels and devils, with the former emerging from the sky and the latter soaring from the underworld.

Its appearance on the scene is very brief. Brief, yet assertive. Once again, the background music was well-composed, this time with haunting string sounds. But, what makes the painting domineering is the remarks of Lex Luthor, who exudes a menacing aura (if I may use the word). He said:

[The painting] should be upside down. We know better now, don’t we? Devils don’t come from hell beneath us. No, they come from the sky.”

That’s not randomness. If you try to interpret it (using logic, of course), the results would be so fitting to the narrative… and internet users have done so. Some think it represents Superman who is probably seen as the devil by Lex. Others think it represents Lex, who sees himself as the ‘angel’ who fell from grace, aka the devil. Symbolism is one boundless space, always open for any sound interpretations.

Subtlety. Yeah, I know. Said that a zillion times before. Bla bla bla bla. But, I want to keep underlining its importance in conveying depth, as proven by the two scenes. Subtlety is the only reason why I don’t hate BvS completely. In fact, I am now open about the possibility of me hating the film less in the future. I might have missed other hidden messages!

Let me change the topic for a while and tell you a story:

I am a Harry Potter fan. I love most of its characters, their quirks and surprising complexities. I love the expansiveness of the fictional universe. I love the thought-provoking thematics, unpretentiously expressed throughout. I love its progressive social stances. I even have made my own analyses about the series, encouraging the growth of my critical thinking skill.

And because of that skill, I cannot unsee its flaws.

Apart from the inconsistencies (which is common in any long-running series), there are also defects like lack of novelty, unexceptional writing style and hasty series finale. I hate how Goblet of Fire and Order of Phoenix, especially the latter, are given poor film adaptations by having their depth thrown away. I also believe Half-Blood Prince understands the HP spirit more than the original source material itself. That’ll stir up the fandom.

I hope you, BvS fans, are still here. I know some of you are rational enough to not make a God out of your favourite film. But, for those of you who do and still adamant about its absolute perfection, let me ask you something:

If I have the ability to shit on Harry Potter, one of the things I love the most in my life, why can’t you accept that BvS, your beloved film, has its faults?

You don’t need to be a pretentious snob to criticise the film. No need to be a Batman and/or Superman hater. No need to be a hardcore Marvel fan. Heck, you don’t even need a highly intellectual mind.

All you need is to accept that imperfection is inherently inescapable, even for the things you love dearly.

A brief description of the outlooks of Indonesian Muslims

Based on a university assignment I made recently. Improved and translated from Indonesian:

Ahok is charged with two years of imprisonment for a blasphemy he was never guilty of. Habieb Rizieq, who blatantly and clearly insulted the Christian faith and desires for Sharia imposed on every citizen, has yet to be touched by the anti-blasphemy legislation. Worse, Ahok is considered to be the nation’s divider and Rizieq to be a unifier by some Muslims.

Unfortunately, this injustice is not surprising. First of all, Islam is the biggest religion here, venerated by 87.18% of the population; so easy for the majority to rule. I obtained the data from a census published by the Central Agency on Statistics (BPS) in 2010. Minority religions were also mentioned. But, the balance in religious studies was not always embraced.

Overall statistic studies of the whole country published in 2016 mentioned the numbers of government-run Madrasahs (Islamic schools) along with their students and teachers; there are also numbers for the people who did the Hajj (pilgrimage). Same thing with the 2015 and 2014 publications. The studies were executed to comprehend different aspects of the country’s life, including its ‘key socio-demographic’ characteristics, as stated in the introduction page of every said publication.

Demographic studies should include every single section of a society, not just the majority ones. Other religious groups are not mentioned at all while the study of the Muslim one is quite in-depth. The Indonesian government seems to treat the others like step-children. Maybe I look petty for making a big deal out of statistical researches. But, that lack of impartiality is also shown in the government’s administrative works.

From its name alone, the ministry of religious affairs should serve all religious groups. But, in reality, they only serve Muslims. The ministry is being ruled by Muslims, including the ministerial rank. If they only want to serve Muslims, at least they change their name to ministry of Islamic affairs. No need to be deceptive.

Of course, I cannot completely accuse the government of making Islam the golden child. Besides it, Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism are all officially recognised. Despite being dominated by Muslims, the ministry of religious affairs still possesses organisations that represent minority religions. Publicly-funded universities affiliated with other religions can still be found. Ministerial positions can still be held by non-Muslims. Despite the tendency to be religiously one-sided and to mix religion with politics, the Indonesian government has yet to be tainted by Islamist ideology.

I also believe the problem can also be found on the people. In the post-Soeharto era, Syahrin Harahap notices how the Indonesian society possesses three distinct images: harmonious, open and fair interreligious image, secular, liberal and western-oriented image and conflicting, in tension and terroristic image. (2006, p. 32-43).

The observation shows how a nation, especially one as diverse as Indonesia, always consists of distinct collectives. But, at the same times, those said images are very black and white and I find that unnerving.

Indonesian liberals are not thought to prioritise harmony even when they openly oppose religious sectarianism; Ulil Abshar Abdalla even supports the Ahmadis. We also forget about how, as I mentioned earlier, Habieb Rizieq is being praised by so-called harmony-loving citizens. The mask we wear is often deceitful.

Rationality, which is embraced by some Muslim thinkers, is considered to be a highly-western thing. Such assumption gives the impression that rationality is antithetical to eastern cultures and most Muslims are easterners themselves.

Rationality is also not considered as a factor for openness. Rational thinking is just a path towards blasphemy, a path towards atheism. As a result, many Muslims see it as something that we should refrain ourselves from embracing.

We also forget about how popular the western culture is in Indonesia, even among citizens who oppose liberalism. Even the Islamic pop culture is highly westernised, with its commercialism and hedonism that attract conservatives’ distaste (Saluz 2009).

In addition, a load of preachers have attained celebrity status. Every sermon is a generous money generator. They also have appeared in countless commercials. In many ways, they are not unlike the televangelists from the United States, a western country.

Those liberal thinkers are considered too westernised because they studied in western universities. People with such petty assumption don’t realise how modern Islamic education in eastern countries is based on the western one; Islamic universities in the east have followed the results of the Bologna Process. Oh and Gus Dur graduated from University of Baghdad and Quraish Shihab from Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt. They studied in Arab education institutes. Why weren’t they accused of being too Arabised?

Besides accused of being too western, the liberals are also labelled as secular, despite how open they are about their religious beliefs, how often they give religious sermons and how some of them teach in Islamic educational institutes. Besides, can we guarantee all of those opponents of liberal Islam pray five times a day, do the zakat, fast every Ramadhan, abstain from alcohol and pre-marital sex?

The images shown by Syahrin Harahap, despite referring to the ones foreigners see, also exist among Indonesians. We love to stamp black and white labels on each other, not realising how humans are more complex than we like to imagine. I also feel Syahrin Harahap used the wrong approach to this issue.

I appreciate how he acknowledges Muslims’ extremism problem. But, at the same time, he was an apologist; he seemed to blame the rise of fundamentalism on forces from outside the Muslim world by stating that Islam is an inherently peaceful religion.

As a Muslim myself, I would love to believe that. But, in reality, those extremists genuinely believe their views are completely aligned with Islamic teachings. We should accept the possibility of our beloved religions being far from perfect.

I do agree with his proposal that teaching globalisation studies to students will help combating domestic extremism (p. 43). It is true the ideology was born overseas and spread from one country to another. But, the academic discipline does not cover the whole issue; it does not study how something spreads internally once it reaches a country.

I propose for all Indonesian Muslims, including the moderate ones, to take a look at themselves in the mirror regarding how we decipher Islamic teachings and how we treat our fellow human beings, especially ones whose outlooks contradict ours. Even though the moderates incite neither violence nor discrimination and will call out anyone who do so, their tendency to make infidels out of liberals and unwillingness to admit Islam as the inspiration for extremism have already given birth to possibly long-lasting negative consequences.

Like it or not, the moderates are indirectly responsible for the injustice that befalls Ahok.

 

 

Badan Pusat Statistik 2010, Hasil sensus penduduk 2010: kewarganegaraan, suku bangsa, agama dan bahasa sehari-sehari penduduk Indonesia, BPS, Jakarta.

Badan Pusat Statistik 2014, Statistik Indonesia 2016, BPS, Jakarta.

Badan Pusat Statistik 2015, Statistik Indonesia 2015, BPS, Jakarta.

Badan Pusat Statistik 2016, Statistik Indonesia 2016, BPS, Jakarta.

Harahap, S 2016, ‘The image of Indonesia in the world: an interreligious perspective’, The IUP journal of international relations, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 30-44.

Saluz, CN 2009, ‘Youth and pop culture in Indonesian Islam’, Studia Islamika, vol. 16. no. 2, pp. 215-242.

Lowbrow elitism

I still refuse to call myself a big fan of Progressive Rock. I have yet to listen to the works of every legendary Prog Rock band. My knowledge of the genre is still minuscule. But, I know that I am overwhelmed by it. I know about how robust intellectualism and virtuoso mastery of instruments are the non-negotiable prerequisites for its musicians. That’s why I was thrilled to find a BBC documentary titled ‘Prog Rock Britannia’.

For me, it was deeply compact. It concisely retold the chronicle of the wonderfully bizarre genre from start to finish. From the startling emergence to its disgraceful downfall. Oh and about the downfall…

According to the documentary, the cause of its demise was related to the public perception. Prog Rock had been regarded as another form of elitism that dismiss the everyday life of common people. When financial crisis struck Britain in the 1970’s, the distaste finally climaxed. It was no longer socially acceptable to love Prog Rock. It was finally proven how the genre did not represent the people while the more pop ones did.

Yeah, about that…

Prog Rock disgusted them because it encouraged intellectualism and higher artistic appreciation, not because of its supposed elitism. If elitism was indeed the reason, they would not have chosen pop music, an inherently escapist genre that discourages any forms of contemplation, as the music of the people.

In his article Popular culture: a useful notion?, Willem Frijhoff laid out six dimensions of pop culture, one of them is it being everyday culture. Even before I read the article, I already had that thought in mind. Pop culture is what the common people instinctively embrace… and that is it.

We often do not realise how culture is something that we preach and does not always practice. In many cases, a culture represents a society’s loudly-expressed ideals approved by the Establishment, not the actual day-to-day practice of the ordinary people.

If a culture is always the photographic representation of a society, sexually conservative societies would not have high rates of teenage pregnancies, sexual assaults and STDs. Self-proclaimed free societies would not have politicians that advocate violation of freedom. I’d love to call out specific countries. But, I am already going too far on a tangent.

Anyway, I don’t mind pop culture. I genuinely understand why it is loved by many. In fact, I find it to be mentally relieving at times. But, pretending that it represents who we are is extremely dishonest. We should always remember pop culture’s main purpose: pushing escapism.

Pop culture’s idea of entertainment involves abducting us from our loathsome earthly existence to a world of bewitching illusions. That’s nice, isn’t it? If we want a culture to represent us, pick one that can’t even be bothered to allude to reality. Never pick ones that encourage contemplation. Ever.

A disclaimer: when I said pop culture, I was referring to the low-quality kind. There are times when pop culture works successfully combine both escapism and contemplative depth. The Golden Girls is one good example, with frequent social commentaries and occasional emotional moments. Anyway…

If you hate the highbrow because you hate intellectualism and artistry, just say it! Don’t say that your hatred is motivated by genuine anti-elitism when it isn’t. Using such pretext makes you a fraud. Nobody with sane state of mind would want to be one…

Wait, maybe you want to be one. Maybe you are one of those pathetic nobodies who believe life is all about others’ superficial recognition. You will do anything to be the so-called voice of the common people. Fondling your fragile ego is more important than being truthful.

Either that or you just from cognitive dissonance. Maybe you genuinely believe pop culture is not escapist, never was and never will be. You believe intellectualism and artistry are escapism in its purest, unadulterated form. You’re unable to acknowledge your defective mental clarity.

This anti-highbrow sentiment is hypocritical and self-defeating. You exclude anything that you consider highbrow and anyone who embrace it. But then, you exclude. You are committing exclusion. Your efforts to combat elitism ends up creating another form of elitism, where the lowbrow is the only acceptable norms. As I said, hypocritical and self-defeating.

What’s the point of this article? Well, first of all, writing insults is fun for me. Second, I believe our expressions of distaste for certain things should be properly constructed. Our attempts to appeal to the masses should be based on sincerity, not pandering and deceit. Our reasoning should also be sound and coherent; always reconsider every single one of our thoughts. Critical thinking is undeniably arduous. But, it is possible to do and worth the efforts.

Note about the referenced article:

I initially wanted to make a complete citation of Willem Frijhoff’s article. The problem is I forget where I got the article from. I did find a Dutch academic also named Willem Frijhoff. But, his area of specialisation is history and there was no indication that he ever dealt with pop culture studies. Academic studies can be interdisciplinary in nature which still makes me wonder if he is the Willem Frijhoff I am looking for.

I hate the highbrow

*puts on a mask*

No, not because of the snobbery we tend to identify with it. Believe me, arrogance should be the least of our problems. In fact, I don’t get why people hate any expressions of self-confidence. I hate the highbrow because… well… it is highbrow.

I hate how intellectualism is even a thing. Life is and will always be black and white. I know because my eyesight says so! If we think deeper, the reputation of my colourless vision would be damaged! That’s not acceptable! My vision is and the only correct one. I know because I am always right! Believing otherwise is literally more sinful than murder. Literally!

I hate how artistry is also a thing. Purely escapist entertainment is the real deal. Artistry encourages depth. It turns entertainment to a more profound experience. Blech! It makes me want to puke. The only true purpose of entertainment is to instill mindlessness to our lives so that anyone will keep submitting their bodies and souls to my black and white perception.

That is humans’ main purpose in life: to love my superficial, empty-headed mind more than anything else, not even themselves. Especially themselves. Artistry and intellectualism are obstacles to humanity’s path towards intellectual and artistic decline. Ultimately, few will become my retarded bitches.

The world without humans becoming my retarded bitches is not worth fighting for.

*takes off the mask*

Syrian refugees: help them…and don’t

(An article based on my philosophy class essay)

Refugee crisis. It seems to be an everlastingly divisive facet of human life. To help or not to help, that is the question. Many are dangerously single-minded once they have taken a stance. Some wish to welcome refugees because of moral obligations. Others refuse to because of security and financial reasons. I am among those who are neither.

I believe literally everything in life has its strengths and weaknesses. In this case, I can spot them straight away. The welcomers may be motivated by a sense of humanity, or a lack of common sense. The refusers may be motivated by common sense, or a sense of inhumanity. Here, I will scrutinise the motives of both sides and try to present some possible solutions in the end. Oh and I will use the Syrian refugee crisis as a case study.

Don’t help them

Against:

For me, there are creatures worse than the openly immoral ones: the pretenders. In this case, they claim to be refusers because of security and financial concerns. But, in truth, the sense of practicality has been just a false face that unconvincingly hides bigotry, unmistakably visible for every living soul to witness. How they slander the refugees says a lot.

First, they love to accuse every single one as economic migrants, despite the fact that they are not. A refugee’s motive is to escape extreme harms at all cost. An economic migrant only needs a better job opportunity. Literally two different types of people! Never mind that such idiotic understanding of the vocabulary insults our intelligence. The accusers slander the refugees as money-hungry beings who were never in danger in the first place! Of course, they have to jack up the vilification by bringing Jihadism.

Some believe many refugees are Trojan horses for ISIS. Others believe all of them are! The refusers use a solid evidence that is paranoia and extreme fear of the ‘others’. They look different, their culture is different and their God is different; therefore, they are inherently evil and must be treated as such. This and the economic migrants accusation reduce the refugees as diverse and complex human beings to dehumanising stereotypes that exudes dangerous falsehood. This kind of refusers believe refugees should be left to die. Besides the shameless immorality, the refusers also have an unreasonable demand: gender and age quotas.

They are offended after finding out that (from a cherry-picked selection of photos) most refugees are supposedly young men; they believe young men must stay in war-ridden Syria and fight. Even in a matter of life and death, we must always uphold arbitrary and ever-changing gender roles; God forbids if we prioritise human well-being over cavemen customs.

For:

But, this side of the argument can also have a strength: the inclusion of rationality. Admittedly, it is can feel cruelly cold and seemingly defies our innate human nature. But, our contemptuous opinions still do not conceal the fact that we need rationality. It is one thing that elevates us to a status other earthly beings have yet to achieve. So what if it feels cold? That is something we have to deal with it. Besides, that coldness is useful in warding off a disease called sentimentality.

Sentimentality encourages us to execute decisions based on whether they feel right or not. Feelings matter, reason doesn’t. Sentimental people may think it is a moral and humane approach to life. But, in truth, it is nothing but selfishness. We do things because we want to please ourselves emotionally, not because we think hard about what is actually best for ourselves and others. We cannot remedy the world with sentimentality.

Help them

Against:

I am quick to berate anyone who demonise refugees with slanders. But, I also oppose the idea of unconditional acceptance. It’s financially reckless to the host countries’ finance. Assisting refugees is costly for everyone; even the wealthiest countries have limited savings. Refugees are not economic migrants whom we can ethically screen simply based on their skills. Either we limit their intake or not taking a single one of them. Unlimited intake should never be an option. Besides this, security is also an issue.

I believe most refugees are not security risks. But, there is no doubt that a handful possibly are; terrorists are often in disguise. As the atrocities of Jihadists are notorious, vigilance is essential. Unconditional acceptance means we endanger the lives of many innocent people. The same immorality we see on the dehumanisation of refugees. Besides security, integration is also a problem.

I love diversity and I am all for its existence. But, when sickly, it is prone to sectarianism. When we refuse to respect others’ identities and be reasonable about our own, conflicts are inevitable. The arrival of outsiders is a good example.

If you plan to stay permanently in your new home, integrate! Cultures are abstract entities. Trust me, you can embrace more than one of them! There is no excuse to not blend in. Heck, even if you don’t plan to stay permanently, never ever force the locals to embrace your culture. In the end, the locals will be antagonised at their own homes and outsiders will be even more marginalised. My fellow supporters of diversity barely talk against this.

For:

Abdusalam Guseinov expressed how rationality is not always the sensible approach to problems (2014). He believes morality is about our ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ choices and that is supposedly out of rationality’s scope. Just like emotions, rationality should also be tamed.

Sometimes, seemingly contradicting my previous statement, the best decisions we can make are based on whether they feel right or not. The ‘coldness’ of reason is not inherently bad. But, we should not let it take over us if we don’t want to see our fellow human beings as mere piles of flesh, blood and bones.

After visiting a refugee camp with her colleagues, sociologist Elizabeth Holzer saw how the refugees’ daily lives were still similar to our own (2014, p. 868). They are not that different from us, despite the differing religious and cultural backgrounds, despite them experiencing an extreme situation which we should be grateful for not enduring it ourselves. This is not a philosophical musing, this is a methodical sociological observation. It should be more than enough to prove their humanness.

Possible solutions

My proposed solution is obvious if one reads the previous paragraphs. We should consider the possible risks of welcoming refugees while, at the same time, confronting the bigotry against them. I also believe the inclusion of rationality and emotions should be strictly balanced.

Of course, my solution is too simplistic and it barely counts as one. I am also literally one person. I also spend. Social issues are very complex and require complex solutions constructed by people of various perspectives. This is why we need global ethics.

It is the best solution we have so far because it fulfills the nationalistic needs of individual countries, while still taking ‘universal moral values’ into consideration (Wonicki 2014, p. 261). Ethics (and philosophy in general) still has objectivity, albeit different the one in science. Ethics sees validity in every viewpoint, as long as they are based on good reasoning and solid evidences. They can be rejected for their fallacies and saying they are just ‘opinions’ is a poor defense. Now that we have one proposed solution, how are we going to implement it?

Philosopher Keith Horton (2014) believed he and his colleagues must reach the masses if they desire to popularise ethics discussions. He proposed these steps (pp. 308-309): 1. do further research on relevant ‘strategic’ issues; 2. make them presentable to wider audiences; 3. join or establish networks; 4. establish relations with non-academic groups and/or individuals with similar goals.

Again, Horton is just one person. His proposals’ effectiveness has yet to be proven. But, unlike me, he was giving genuinely more empirical suggestions. If there are more ethicists who make similar endeavours, it would be easier to improve the relatively young and underdeveloped discipline (Dower 2014, p. 14). Besides that, we should also involve the media in this conversation.

Edward Girardet and Loretta Hieber stated how journalists refuse to advocate humanitarianism, citing objectivity as a pretext. But then, those same journalists are eager to promote their government’s patriotic endeavours or commercialism in general (2002, p. 166). Whether those actions are journalistic or not, that is an entirely different matter.

Those so-called journalists drop their objectivity only when it is personally beneficial for them to do so. The media should admit this deep-rooted hypocrisy and courageously confront it (Girardet & Hieber 2002, p. 166). Bear in mind that the media is greatly powerful.

Girardet and Hieber (p. 172) suggested that, in order to spread the words, humanitarian organisations need to study the societal roles of media and to join forces with independent media. They also argued that independent media should bring their ‘faith in quality reporting’ back to life instead of giving in. We cannot expect commercial media to be self-reflective any time soon, if ever.

Just like Horton’s, Girardet and Hieber’s proposal is far from perfect, albeit (again) better than mine. Once again, we need more individuals partaking in this conversation. More participation means more perspectives. More perspectives means the more we (ideally) would be mindful in the problem-solving.

Girardet, E & Hieber, L 2002, ‘The media and humanitarian values’, Refugee survey quarterly, vol. 21, no. 3, 166-172.

Guseinov, AE 2014, ‘Morality as the limit rationality’, Russian studies in philosophy, vol. 52, no. 3, pp. 18-38.

Holzer, E 2014, ‘Humanitarian crisis as everyday life’, Sociological forum, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 851-872.

Horton, K 2014, ‘Global ethics: increasing our positive impact’, Journal of global ethics, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 304-311.

Dower, N 2014, ‘Global ethics: dimensions and prospects’, Journal of global ethics, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 8-15.

Wonicki, R 2014, ‘Global ethics and human responsibility: challenges for the theory and discipline’, Journal of global ethics, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 261-266.

Pewdiepie and Trump: literally not the same!

pewdiepie internet 2017 main

Not long ago, Felix Kjellberg AKA Pewdiepie was accused of anti-Semitism. Well, to this day, he is still accused of it. Admittedly, he is known for his humour which can be extremely obscene, even for fans like me. But, a racist he is not.

I understand that jokes like his can be unpalatable and can be abused by bigots. But, I am one of those who differentiate vulgarity from bigotry. Of course, mainstream media outlets rebuff that. Their disagreement with this view compel them to perform shameless dishonesty.

Instead of analysing his videos in their entirety, the media extracted some parts and reported them…without giving any contexts! Many in the Youtube community, including fellow content creators and even his detractors, came to defend him and called out the so-called journalists who thought slander was journalistic! Traditional media keep trying to besmirch their digital counterparts; this case wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. The annoyance doesn’t stop there.

Some people who were on Pewds’ side compared him to Donald Trump. They believed both shared the same hardship in their public life. Admittedly, they also have to endure daily dose of dehumanising hatred. But, I still can’t see them equals.

First of all, Trump is not being slandered. The media simply report his words and actions that -in any given contexts- blatantly show rejection of the facts, childishness and inhumanity towards his fellow human beings. Admittedly, lies about him do spread around. But, they are minuscule in number compared to unsavoury yet truthful reports of him. That’s different case with Pewdiepie.

Even before the anti-Semitism accusation, people accused him of other horrendous things, like beating his girlfriend and stealing money from his numerous charity fundraising. The evidence? Well, their deep hatred of his videos. They couldn’t lay out circumstantial evidences, let alone the conclusive ones. But, despite all of the falsehood, his fans keep defending him, knowing how poisonous his haters can be.

About Trump’s fans, I notice a juxtaposition. While some do condemn the accusations as slanders, others hold unsettling stances. A portion of them are apathetic and that’s bad enough; apathy towards immorality, even when alleged, means one greenlights its existence. The others are far worse: his lack of morale exhilarates them.

They don’t see his childishness, sexual abuse of women, fear-mongering, rejection of facts, bullying and prejudice as sins. In fact, they believe a strong and powerful leader must possess those attributes. Level-headness, rationality and human decency are seen as sugary, vomit-inducing abnormalities that inherently weak humans crave for. Trump relishes on pandering.

He knows how much his fans fetishise over such sins. The more he boasts them, the more he empowers his fans. For him, popularity is far more important than the dignity of the masses he is sacrificing. As crass as Pewdiepie can be, he still believes in social responsibility.

In recent years, Pewdiepie lost a group of fans because he has stopped pandering to their immaturity, irrationality and lack of sophistication. As he matures, he realises how unprincipled his old self was for empowering his obnoxious fans. Nowadays, he is known for openly lambasting their behaviours. Having many admirers isn’t worth sacrificing the dignity of one’s self and the masses; thankfully, his self-improvement is accompanied by a counter-intuitively fattening fan base.

Many people still don’t realise that Pewdiepie is a satirical character created by Felix Kjellberg. Long time or observant viewers know how to distinguish them from each other. Entertainers aren’t obliged to confirm whether they are in characters or not. Yet Kjellberg has explicitly stated that Pewdiepie is fictional and doesn’t represent his true self. Predictably, not the case with Trump.

I have heard speculations about how Trump the politician is also a character. If that is true (if!), it’s problematic. He keeps convincing everyone, especially his fans, that the persona is a real person. He deliberately and dangerously block out the line between the real and the unreal. But then, what can one expect from a politician? A shred of decency?

Also, ‘normal people’ got consequences for their mistakes. When I said ‘normal people’, I meant people who don’t have extra privileges like fame, fortune or both. Pewdiepie has both and the consequences he got are quite severe.

Apart from the backlashes, he had his Disney contract eliminated, his costly and highly-anticipated web series cancelled and his videos temporarily demonetised. Not to mention mainstream media outlets are constantly thirsty of his blood, keep intentionally distorting his subsequent videos. Despite his fame and fortune, he’s still quite close to be one of the ‘normal ones’, unlike Trump.

From all the horrible things he has said and done, we punish Trump by creating meaningless backlashes…and making him one of the most powerful individuals on earth. If he is an ordinary person, he would have suffer greater consequences than Felix Kjellberg had. Heck, he would’ve suffered more than his detractors like Reza Aslan and Kathy Griffin had. What we’re doing to him are just a weak microscopic slap to the wrist.

He escapes all of the deserving punishments and still manages to act like the most prosecuted person in the world. Kjellberg suffers punishments harsher than he deserves. But, he acknowledges how undesirable he can be; he is a bigger man than Trump will ever be. Even professionally, he is of lower class than Pewdiepie is.

Trump is a so-called master for the dimwits. They believe him when he said a million dollar loan from daddy is small. They think him hiring multiple bankruptcies and conning people show money-savvy he is. Don’t start with his lack of political experience. Bring that up and they will call you petty for having a decent standard; don’t you know that making political tweets counts? But, there is one expertise he masters: showmanship.

Love or hate him, he is a fantastic reality show star. I even religiously watched The Apprentice at one point. If they want to brag a talent of his, why wouldn’t they bring up this fact? Oh, right. That would make him a politically-illiterate obnoxious celebrity. You know, what they have been accusing anti-Trump celebrities of. They would hate to see their orange calf as someone who doesn’t know his place. You know who does? Felix Kjellberg

You may abhor his aesthetics which, as I’ve said before, can be too jarring even for his fans. But, the man behind the character is skilled. The excessively unpalatable editing is actually time consuming. Some of his shorter videos (less than ten minutes long) are produced out of seamlessly-edited hours-long footage. Don’t forget his photo-shopping skills. Yes, every Youtuber needs it to create thumbnails. But, few expand theirs even further.

In some videos, he has fun with photoshopping; occasionally, his fans request him to photoshop their own photos. The results are usually either hilarious or freaky enough for you to scream ‘KILL IT WITH FIRE!’. When you look at them, you will think they are just results of high technical mastery of computer softwares. No aesthetic profoundness whatsoever. But, before his Youtube career took off, he already made lots of photoshopping works and boy, they are beautiful.

Just look at them. You would think they were created by an actual artist. Of course, you wouldn’t have guessed that artist is the same man who play video games, screams like a little bitch and make Nazi jokes for a living. With that fact, it’s surprising how his videos’ visuals lack any pleasing aesthetics. But, his artistry brings depth to another aspect of his Youtube works: his commentaries.

Every time he seriously remarks on a pop culture phenomenon or reviews a video game, his words always contain valuable insight that provoke level-headed and intelligent individuals to ponder about. He does those while still making self-deprecating jokes. The result? An unpretentious and down-to-earth intelligent Youtuber…who also knows his place.

As a content creator who craves variety, he has made commentaries with a wide range of subject matters. But, if you look closely, almost all of them are concerning pop culture and the media, digital one included. Unlike Trump, Kjellberg is aware what he is knowledgeable and ignorant about and he builds an indestructible (and actually beneficial) giant wall between them.

Even at many paragraphs ago, it was already obvious how different both men are. But, I will end this article by briefly talk about a slightly tangential and borderline ad hominem distinction: their true selves.

As celebrities, both have met many people in-person and each of them receives two contrasting receptions. One has people judging his appalling treatment of his fellow human beings since ever. Another has been complimented by others for his surprising good-natured bearing, juxtaposing his infamous public persona. Guess which one is which?

Yup.

Sorry, I forgot to include this.

I have seen Youtube comments that assert non-existing parallels between Pewdiepie and Trump. Each comment received dozens of likes. As irritating as it is, I sound like I am exaggerating its presence, making it sounds more widespread than it really is.

Yes, there are possibly hundreds or thousands of individuals who believe in such comparison. But, such belief is still a fringe. From my (admittedly limited) observation, the believers have yet to reigned over any comment sections of Facebook posts and Youtube videos that are tackling the Pewdiepie scandal. The reason why I accidentally inflated is how much I am personally annoyed by those people’s lack of wits. It’s simple as that.

I promise this article really ends here.

Or does it?