The real American power…

… Is actually soft.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How about the propaganda present in Hollywood films?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Feminists and anti-feminists: a common ground

*puts on a mask*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Together, you can oppress women to the fullest.

*takes off the mask*

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I support colonialism…..

*puts on mask*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of course, I have to be fair as well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*takes off the mask*

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Redesigning a museum (by a non-expert who will never be a curator)

The Youtube channel Art Assignment hosted by Sarah Urist Green made a video titled Remake The Met. The host, a former museum curator who has a master’s degree in art history, encourages us the viewers to rethink how we curate museum collections. She said that instead of categorising them based on their geographical origins or time periods, why don’t we use other kinds of categorisations?

Personally, I prefer themes and emotions. I love it when we can see beyond the tangibility. I find it more fun and more rewarding.

Even though I didn’t bother to check, I already knew my idea was not original. There is no way I was the first person to conceive something that basic!

Note: After watching the video again, which I did after I almost finished this article, I noticed that Sarah suggested categorising items thematically. Basically, not only my idea is unoriginal, I unconsciously stole hers. Oops!

But, despise the things I said above, I can credit myself for one thing: I also propose that every section of the museum to be ‘unlabelled’; therefore, visitors have to fathom what every item object in a certain section has in common.

Sarah made the video because she wanted museum experiences to be divorced from the long-established rigidity. Unless you are an ultra-traditionalist, it is undeniably a good motivation. But, I also have another one: fostering human connections.

Yes, I know, Even I find my own writing nauseating.

Categorisation based on cultures of origins means we subconsciously encourage visitors to keep focusing on how different we are from each other. If it is based on intangible entities like themes and emotions, we are encouraged to see beyond the tangible and focus on what we profoundly have in common.

Obviously, direct contacts are way more effective in encouraging people to pop their sectarian bubbles; even then, they can also results in increasing sectarianism when the participant have no desire to open up in the first place.

So, it is naive to think that my proposal, which does not require any human contacts, will fight prejudice. I even don’t have any anecdotes to back me up, let alone studies done by actual researchers.

But still, I would be thrilled if my idea somehow gets implemented.

I believe encouraging others to reconsider their life perspectives is always worth it, even if many do not end up doing so and will never do…

… And I genuinely think my idea sounds a lot more fun and compelling than using the usual approach.

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“Youtube’s not good enough!”

Disregard of privacy. Hatred of change. Entitled attitude. Immaturity.

Those are the dark traits that people familiar with Youtube cultures associate with Youtube fandoms. They are common knowledges.

But, I am surprised most people (seemingly) have yet to notice another frustrating trait about the fandoms: obsession with giant corporate media networks.

On some occasions, you can see fans wondering why their beloved idols are not signing up to those corporations.

And that irks me every time.

One thing for sure is they don’t know how the media works. They probably think those giant entities provide creators with not only big platforms and big funding, but also complete creative freedom.

You know, a make-believe.

They don’t know how creators are also responsible to the network executives. If they deem the creations unprofitable or ideologically “deviant”, those creations would not even survive the pre-production stage.

As bad as Youtube can be, its content creators have freedom that many of theirs counterparts in other platforms can only dream of.

Your videos can be taken down for violating guidelines (or falsely and/or unfairly accused of doing so). But, they can never be taken down solely for low viewerships or ideological deviance.

In fact, Youtube is full of creators who espouse controversial opinions regarding humanity and who scathingly condemn the establishments. Not to mention there is an abundance of creators like Filthy Frank whose style described by Nerd City as “post-ironic” (Click and go straight to 16:45).

But, this is not even the most frustrating about the fandoms’ wish. Their elitist attitude is.

Why is Youtube not good enough?

Of course, if a more stable source of income is the argument, then I am all for it. Youtubers have been struggling gaining profits from their videos in recent years.

But, that’s not what fans want; from all of the ones who have expressed such desire, I only encountered one that mentioned income. One.

In fact, not only it is the only clearly-elucidated reason that I encountered, fans also know Youtubers can either get direct sponsorships, donations through Patreon, or both. Seemingly, they don’t have any reasons to make such demand.

While I cannot have make any concrete (and objective) conclusions, I can tell you about the mentality of Youtube fandoms.

They suffer from inferiority complex.

I am not talking about how their idols are talentless or something; just like fans of traditional idols, many Youtube fans certainly see theirs as talented. I am talking about how they see Youtube as a career: for them, it is not a real job.

Admittedly, it is extremely rare for me to see those comments. But, I do have encountered fans who genuinely believe the jobs of their idols are not “real jobs”. In fact, they seem happy if their idols have jobs other than making Youtube videos.

What are “real jobs”, anyway?

  • If a job gives us complete or near independence, is considered a novelty and disregarded by the establishment, and/or does not offer a stable source of income, then it would not be considered as “real”.
  • I reach to such conclusion because, from what I observe, the jobs labelled as “not real” often possess some or all of those characteristics. I have never heard people calling blue collar jobs and most white ones as “not real”.

    From this observation, I already have a clear imagination of what some Youtube fans are thinking:

    Yes, we know our favourite Youtubers are creators who rise to the top despite the independence from the old-age establishment. And that what makes them unique.

    But, because of that same reason, we fans feel insecure about ourselves because there is no prestige in admiring those who are not parts of the establishment.

    Therefore, it would be selfish of our idols to stay independent and refuse to become corporate slaves.

    Yes, I know my assumption is plagued with meanness and exaggeration… and also dishonesty considering how Youtube also has its own (younger and less powerful) establishments which are divided into different linguistic and/or national categories.

    But, whether those fans are aware of how the media works or not, you have to admit the feeling of inferiority is there.

    If it isn’t, why would they be aroused by the prospect of their favourite Youtubers branching out to the more conventional yet not-always-rewarding realms?

    If it isn’t, why aren’t they content about idolising those who make a living solely out of Youtube?

    I am on the opinion that believes Youtubers need to mature in order to bring their communities forward.

    But, I believe the fandoms’ lack of self-assurance is also a major hindrance to the progress as they refuse to uncover the platform’s fullest potentials.

    It is not far-fetched to say the collective feeling of insecurity is one of Youtube’s biggest enemies.

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    The problem with forgiveness

    We think we have the right to forgive every person who have committed wrongdoings.

    But, we don’t.

    The prerogative to forgive does not immediately apply to every person in existence. It only immediately so to those who are directly affected by the wrongdoings.

    If you are directly affected by one of those wrongdoings, you are literally the only person who has the right to forgive those who have harmed you.

    Your loved ones have the right to forgive once you have manifested WHOLEHEARTED forgiveness. After they have expressed THE EXACT SAME THING or AFTER THEY ARE DECEASED, the right now transfers to your acquaintances and also to complete strangers who have heard about your suffering.

    But, what if you are deceased?

    Obviously, that right immediately goes to your loved ones. Oh, and when I said “loved ones”, I meant it. Your immediate family members do not immediately count ones.

    Just because you are related to someone, that does not mean you love one another. If anything, it is no secret that family members have not only trivialised the sufferings of their so-called loved ones, but also have intentionally inflicted pain on them.

    If your best friends have shown how much they care about you more than your immediate family have, then they are your true “loved ones” and your family can fuck themselves!

    I believe this problem exists because we communalise sufferings.

    We believe in the idea that if one person suffers, every other person definitely feels the exact same pain. We believe that there is nothing wrong about pretending to feel the exact same pain.

    Even if someone experiences the exact same affliction that you have or had, it does not mean you fully understand his/her suffering. Literally everybody is different; how you live your life won’t always work on other people. Forgiveness is not a universally effective antidote.

    Those who suffer do not need our pretense. They need our empathy.

    Empathy does not require us to pretend. Empathy requires us to simply acknowledge that what they are experiencing is painful to them, even though we don’t feel the pain ourselves.

    —-

    This anger of mine has been slowly brewing for years and the brewing started to intensify when I saw internet users who believed the Nazi war criminals should be forgiven and we should just drop the idea of prosecuting them just because they are old.

    It deeply disturbs me because not only they trivialised the severity of human atrocity committed by the Nazis, they don’t even have any family members who endured the concentration camps.

    Well, I am inclined to believe so because they didn’t mention having victims and survivors of the holocaust as family members. If they want their pleas to be more emotionally impactful, shouldn’t they mention about having those relatives?

    Either they suck in persuasion or they are assholes.

    My anger peaked when one of those plea makers cited the post-genocide Rwanda as a stellar example of forgiveness.

    Except, it is a dreadful example.

    When interviewed by Humans of New York, Rwandan president Paul Kagame said the country decided to not punish those who partook in the genocide.

    Why? Because he said it was impossible to imprison almost the entire country.

    Essentially, what Rwanda did was not forgiveness. What they did was absolution, a state-sanctioned formality, which itself driven by admittedly much needed yet still callous sense of pragmatism.

    It is just dishonest to call this “forgiveness”, isn’t it?

    Forgiveness is supposed to benefit humanity. Instead, it is being used to undermine it.

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    Different types of Hasan Minhaj haters

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

    Now, where do I start?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    —-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Are Marvel films “cinema”? (And a long rant about snobs)

     

    Yes, they are. And yes, I am late to the party.

    My short answer should be the end of the story. But, I can’t help myself from ranting and letting cretins ruining my days.

    Yes, it is “days”. Plural.

    On Facebook, a land where intelligent discourses thrive, I made posts on multiple pages and groups on why I disagree with Scorsese, Coppola and their defenders.

    Surprisingly, my comments were more well-received than I expected. It feels nice to know I am not alone with my frustration.

    Unsurprisingly, I also encountered detractors -two to be exact- and their overall counter argument is something I have seen read and heard before. Yet, it still manages to ruffle my feathers.

    Basically, they told me that instead of being “unfairly dismissive”, I should eat the “humble pie” (one of them said that exact term), acknowledge that my taste is shit, acknowledge that my opinions regarding cinema are and will always be inherently less worthy than the ones regurgitated by award-winning directors and acknowledge that I am being pretentious for thinking mine can be better than theirs.

    Five reasons why it is a bullshit argument.

    Reason one:

    Awards are not always what we think they are.

    They do not always indicate appreciation of merits. They can also be used as indicators of how much certain individuals and their creations are beloved by the establishment.

    You cannot expect me to believe they are always about merits when James Cameron’s Avatar, a film which success was entirely dependent on special effects and 3D theatre presentations, was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.

    Reason two:

    It advocates status-worshipping.

    Surely, if one wants to determine the merit of an opinion, the most important thing is to analyse the reasoning and evidences being used instead getting fixated on how much the establishment loves the opinion maker.

    It is not anti-intellectual to simply question the so-called experts. If anything, it ensures they are being held to the highest standard.

    Oh, and if you encounter the “Marvel films are not cinema” remark online and you don’t know who said it, you would not assume it was made by intellectual adults hardened by life experiences.

    No, you would assume it was made by immature and pretentious snot-nosed teenagers who think their tastes are the most sophisticated ones.

    In fact, it is way less understandable when a adult does that. You would think life experiences will make her/him more mature and reasonable.

    Speaking about pretentiousness…

    Reason three:

    Those two snobs don’t know what pretension is.

    I don’t have my own personal definition of what cinema is as I choose to stick with the most objective one available: the production and distribution of films.

    As much as I despise films like Michael Bay’s and Batman vs Superman, I have to acknowledge them as parts of the cinema, just like my favourite films are.

    It is arrogant for anyone -Scorsese and Coppola included- to think their subjective definitions of certain words are the only right ones.

    They are trying to convince us that their unsound and petulant remarks are more profound than they really are. They are trying to convince us that among billions of human beings living right now, people like them are the only ones who “get” cinema.

    In short, they are fucking pretentious.

    I, on other hand, try my best to be as objective as possible by not letting my hatred of certain works hinder my judgement and by not pretending my taste is best.

    One of my detractors also nitpicked about my wording. He said it was pretentious of me to use the word “one” as a pronoun.

    When one realises one does not have any good comebacks, one can simply retaliated by splitting hair in front of one’s opponent.

    Reason four:

    They insist on thinking in boxes.

    It has been ingrained in their minds that loving films like Marvel’s is an absolute sign of mediocre taste. As I can enjoy them, they perceive me as thoroughly unsophisticated.

    But, I also told them about my love of Andrei Tarkovsky, Ingmar Bergman and Stanley Kubrick, three directors who are frequently considered as among the best by film snobs.

    So, if one takes their words as the truth, it means I have a really good taste in cinema.

    Well, not to my detractors.

    Even with my repeated claims that I love those directors, my detractors kept pretending I could only love Marvel and Marvel only.

    Their black and white mindset cannot comprehend how one’s taste in anything can be difficult or even impossible to pigeonhole.

    If they immediately acknowledged my love of those directors, they would have to accept that tastes can be complex. But, as they insisted on thinking in boxes, they ignored my statement and kept claiming their non-existing aesthetic superiority.

    One of them eventually did acknowledge that I am a fan of those directors. But, even then, it did not stop him from using the condescending tone.

    For him, it does not matter if most of my favourite films are arthouse. Love just one Marvel film and I will ruin the whole batch.

    He probably thinks taste is literally measurable… like a literal, physically-embodied chemical which can literally be poisonous.

    They actually make me proud of myself for having unpredictable and relatively complex taste.

    Yes, I used the word “complex” to describe myself.

    Reason five:

    Where is the fucking humble pie?

    If they wanted me to eat the bad-tasting yet nutritious humble pies, they had to painstakingly make one for me.

    Instead, they took a huge dump on the dining table and claimed their faeces is the humble pie; the refusal to consume is a sign of one’s infantility.

    When I kept refusing to do, they started shoving their faeces into my mouth. Unsurprisingly (and ideally), I retaliated by throwing their shit back to their faces.

    When they showed no signs of stopping, I started to take a dump myself and do the same thing.

    Interestingly, when I said the arrogance of snobs put off others from even considering to try something highbrow, my detractors dismissed it.

    They said it never happens and I am just making excuses for people to be comfortable with their aesthetic mediocrity.

    Except, it does happen all the time.

    I have seen people defecating on certain works even though they have yet to experience them. The behaviours of the fans are considered more than enough to determine the quality of those works.

    I have seen people hating on Harry Potter, Steven Universe and anime solely because of their toxic fandoms. And yes, I have seen people hating on fine arts and quality entertainment because of the exact same reason.

    Yes, what I just said are anecdotes. But, at least, I tried to make my claims sound more believable.

    My detractors, on the other hand, didn’t make the efforts. Instead of trying to give me evidences to counter my claim, they simply dismissed it.

    If anything, the (thankfully not literal) excrement fight I just described above actually supports my claim. The evidence that is against them was displayed right on their screens.

    Their arrogance begets my arrogance.

    How can they expect me to eat humble pie when they have never eaten one themselves?

    —-

    Yes, I know I should not let their snobbery ruined my days. I also hate that I ended up resorting to arrogance as well. Even though I am way more reasonable than those two, I believe there is no winner in this fight.

    But, cultural snobbery has been frustrating me for years because of the disservice they have committed against the masses.

    I would love for films like Andrei Tarkovsky and Ingmar Bergman’s to be even more popular. I would love them to greatly influence film industries in the incoming years.

    I would love if the creative industries of the incoming years allow idealism, artistry and experimentation to thrive more.

    I would love if the masses are starting to think more critically about the entertainment they enjoy and stop associating popularity with quality.

    But, thanks to those snobs, my desires will always be make-believes.

    Thanks to them, the masses will keep on associating mindless escapism with “humility of the ordinary people” and intellectually-inclined admiration with “vanity of the elites”.

    Those beliefs are obviously not true. The presence of humility and vanity does not correlate with one’s standing in a society. But, as those snobs prioritise their egos over actually enlightening others, they unwittingly perpetuate those falsehoods.

    They shoot my feet, accuse me of committing self-harm, shoot their own feet and accuse others of violence.

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    Do I regret my ‘useless’ degree?

    The answer is no.

    Yes, it does not help me in my job search. It barely teaches me any practical skills. It is not rigorous with its theoretical education. I wish it is both a vocational and liberal arts degree.

    But, thanks to my media studies major, I now possess a relatively high level media literacy. While it is too low for my liking, it dramatically increases after I started my media studies education. As a result, in my personal life, I am the least gullible person around.

    Admittedly, I still fall for fake news on some occasions. But, to my defence, I fall for fake news reported by the mainstream media which have sleak and professional presentations. The people I know, on the other hand, will easily fall for articles which utilise clickbaits as headlines and over-dramatic language in the content, lack any proper citations and, in some cases, include blatantly-photoshopped images.

    Those same people also easily fall for those arbitrarily-sad, tear-jerking and pseudo-inspirational content, whether on the internet or on TV. Also thanks to my education, I now take heed of the sappy or ‘uplifting’ background music, the unnecessarily lavish visuals and the flowery language. If those sad stories and inspirational words are given raw and unpolished presentation, they would not have the same emotional potency. In fact, their lack of depth would immediately expose itself. Nowadays, such content no longer moves me. It only nauseates me.

    I also no longer easily fall for any rhetoric (well, most of the time). Acknowledging that people lie to and deceive each other seems to be a common sense. But, in reality, we still take other people’s words for granted, especially when they are public figures. We often vote for politician NOT because the actual substances of their words and NOT because their track records, but because they keep appealing to our emotions.

    I also have another reason, a strange reason, why I don’t regret my university education: learning.

    It is strange because I am someone known for his poor academic performances. I always have a hard time finishing assignments and I often get low grades; high ones are anomalies. Overall, it is a miracle that I finished primary education on-time.

    But, I had so much fun absorbing every bit of information. I sincerely enjoyed reading the pages of the library books and academic papers I managed to get my hands on. I sincerely enjoyed immersing myself in research findings and complex theories. I never had any academia-related enjoyment prior to my university years.

    I blame the lack of enjoyment on the over-emphasise of rote-learning, the lack of encouragement to read and do my own researches, the fact that I have to take classes I have no interest in and my teachers made no effort to make them seem worthy to learn about.

    It is a contrast to my higher education in which reading and researching were compulsory, rote-learning was virtually non-existent (at least, in my chosen discipline) and, because I chose my own major, I did not have to take many classes I had no interest partaking. I enjoyed learning when I was a university student because that is how learning should be!

    The purpose of learning is not about receiving information for granted. It should be about the adeptness to gather new information and determine its validity by scrutinising the sources, the reasoning and evidences. It should be for the sake of being enlightened and not expecting any tangible or shallow rewards.

    It is not to say higher education is not susceptible to indoctrination. It is, especially when religion and politics are involved. But, considering how the learning process is executed, gullibility and irrationality are inexcusable. I am thoroughly disappointed by the severe intellectual dishonesty of some of my fellow university graduates.

    I also have to credit my university education for increasing my nerdiness.. After reading quite a handful of genuinely interesting papers and library books, I end up even more interested in the liberal arts.

    I never knew that one could observe human beings through abstract lenses, beyond the surface of their observable behaviours; it gives me an entirely fresh approach to how I tackle my surrounding.

    Are those lenses practical? No, they are not necessarily so. But, they do turn me into a more contemplative person; with the risk of being seen as ostentatious, I even dare to say they make more spiritual.

    Consequentially, I also end up searching for more academic papers, despite the fact that it has been a while since the graduation day. I used to hate reading them. But now, I read them NOT because I want to be a researcher and am intending to publish my findings, I read them simply because I want to!

    Overall, I become a significantly better individual.

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    Religious clothing and secularism

    I’ll be straight forward: I disagree with the ban of religious attire in certain public areas and I disagree for two reasons.

    Reason one: the blurred boundary between cultures and religion.

    Take holidays for example. Christmas is a Christian (originally Pagan) festival celebrated by staunch atheists in the western world and the Laïcité-embracing French government, despite its prevailing spiritual significance among devoted Christians. Halloween, another holiday of Pagan/Christian origin, is also celebrated by secular and religious westerners alike. Nowruz is a Zoroastrian holiday celebrated by Persians all over the world, including the ones living in Afghanistan and Iran, despite its prevailing spiritual significance among Zoroastrians.

    In much of the world, we name the planets (and one former planet) in our solar system based on Roman Gods; NASA even has the Project Apollo, which is named after the Roman God. Garuda is a creature in Hindu mythology and yet it is one of the national symbols of Indonesia, a predominantly-Muslim country; in fact, none of of the country’s national symbols are of Islamic origin.

    When it comes to headcovering, many people associate it with Islamic dress. But, everyone with basic religious literacy knows it is NOT an exclusively Islamic thing; it has been used for non-Islamic religious rituals and even for entirely cultural reasons! That’s what both Islamophobes and zealous Muslims refuse to acknowledge.

    Reason two: it is just fucking clothes, for fuck’s sake!

    Okay, I don’t actually believe that.

    I do think what we wear matters depending on the occasions as we can emit impressions, both accurate and inaccurate, to others without uttering a single word. For example: one would never visit a funeral while adorned in party costumes; if one wants to be perceived positively, wear the proper outfit. One must always be mindful of one’s own image. While I try not to judge how people dress, I cannot expect them to do the same.

    But, some people don’t share my mindset. Instead, they genuinely believe our outfits are literally everything and therefore, it is acceptable for them to judge a person’s dignity and even morality solely based on how he/she dresses. I disagree with it because I have an approach called ‘living in reality’.

    Suits and ties are often associated with dignity, despite the fact that sleazy TV journalists, politicians, lawyers and businessmen are almost always seen wearing them. If I have to bring up Muslims, I have met ones who genuinely believe their adherence to strict supposedly religiously-obligated dress codes make them morally superior than me, despite the fact that they are anything but moral as shown by their supports of discrimination and their support of/unwillingness to condemn extremism.

    In the context of state secularism, it is often believed that donning religious attire is an indication of one’s commitment to put one’s religion above everything else. I have met hijabi Muslim women who think Islam should be their countries’ only state religion and their fellow Muslims should be given more rights than the non-Muslims.

    But, I also have met hijabi women who are either apathetic about the topic of state secularism OR are in favour of governance that respect the society’s plurality. I also have met non-hijabi women who are apathetic about this issue and do not see anything wrong with the presence of religions in public schools. In fact, I know one Indonesian Muslim woman who hates hijab and supports the policy of banning hijab… who also refuse to vote for non-Muslim candidates in the recent Indonesian parliamentary election.

    Admittedly, this argument of mine won’t convince many people. Not only it is very anecdotal (and we live in a world where we even don’t take peer-reviewed researchers seriously), it is also challenges the prevailing idea of state secularism.

    It challenges the notion that appearing secular is the same as actually being secular. It challenges the notion that secularism can be achieved simply by removing religiosity out of sight. It challenges the idea that appearances can or should be taken at face value.

    France, a place where religious attires are banned from public schools and government buildings, is arguably the most (in)famous secular state and often hailed as a model of state secularism. Yet, it also gives exemptions to the Alsace region, which funds religious activities of Calvinists, Lutherans, Catholics and religious Jews and makes religious classes compulsory.

    Pre-Erdogan Turkey officially banned hijab in certain places… and yet it already had Religious Affairs Directorate which controlled mosques and appointed Imams, who were officially recognised as civil servants. Iran under the so-called extremely-secular anti-hijab Pahlavi dynasty also had similar approaches regarding religious affairs.

    So much for Laïcité, eh?

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