When the ‘useless’ knowledge is proven right

I have a bachelor’s degree in media and communication from Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. Before that, I got a diploma in the same disciplines from Melbourne Institute of Technology (now called Deakin college).

I don’t know how other educational institutions teach media and communication. But, in those particular places, it was quite all over the place. Interdisciplinary, if I want to sound fancy.

They made sure students studied as many aspects of media and communication as possible. On the practical side, I learned the basics of PR, marketing, journalism, advertising and press release writing.

On the “useless” side, I learned about the cultural aspects of cinema, masculinity and race in cinema, philosophical aspects of globalised media, interpreting imagery, digital media theories and basics of animation and digital photography.

Obviously, we can all agree the practical skills are useful. The validity of “useless” ones, however, is so hard to defend.

The “useless” classes helped me perceiving the world through different lenses and taught me how to read between the lines. But, the abstract nature of the subject matters make them hard to comprehend; some people may consider them results of delusional and paranoid thinking.

It has been years since I graduated. But, it was only recently I realised the “useful” knowledge validates the “useless” one.

Those “useful” classes taught me how to influence the masses to my own benefits; with the right languages, imagery and angles, I can do so without technically lying and spreading misinformation. With journalism specifically, I was taught how to factually report a story by not only employing a neutral language, but also being tactful with the angles; no matter how factual and neutral the report is, its angle still affects how the public perceives it.

They compel me to not take the surface for granted… the exact thing media and communication theories have been telling me all along!

I hate myself for this late realisation. For years, I was frustrated that I couldn’t convince others to acknowledge the validity of those abstract theories, not realising the practical skills I learned validate them and have always been!

I don’t think this easily applies to other social science and humanities disciplines. While they certainly have their practical sides, the ones of media and communication are far more clear-cut and tangible.

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How to make arguments 2

*puts on a mask*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can also project yourself onto others.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*takes off the mask*

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So, you think you know everything about Indonesia?

I have made a similar blogpost about Islam and the Muslim world, as I have made so many non-Muslims who love Islamplaining and Muslimplaining things to me, someone who was born and raised as a Muslim in a Muslim-majority country.

But, to a lesser extent, I also have encountered foreigners who insist they know about Indonesia.

Some are angry that I – a citizen of a developing country – have the gut to criticise their significantly more developed beloved countries; they always react by trash talking mine… and their words are either vague and too generalised or full of exaggerations.

Others are angry that I refuse to paint my entire country as a Saudi Arabia-clone; they believe fighting Islamic extremism is futile without anti-Muslim bigotry.

Both share something in common: they think they know Indonesia more than I do.

If – for some reasons – you are one of those pea-brained muppets and are currently reading this blogpost, answer the questions below:

  1. Where is Indonesia located?
  2. What is our climate?
  3. Name the nearest oceans to Indonesia?
  4. Name our neighbours. Which ones we share land borders with?
  5. What is the capital city?
  6. What are the most and second most populous cities?
  7. How many islands are there?
  8. Name at least six.
  9. How many provinces are there?
  10. Name at least six.
  11. How many of them have autonomous status? Name at least two.
  12. Pick one and state what makes it autonomous.
  13. Name at least one province that implement religious laws.
  14. Name at least three non-Muslim-majority provinces.
  15. Name all of the landlocked provinces.
  16. What is the percentage of Indonesia’s Muslim population?
  17. Indonesia has the _____ biggest Muslim population in the world. Answer it with an ordinal number.
  18. Name all of the six officially recognised religions.
  19. Name the state religion. Yes, state religion is different from officially recognised religion.
  20. Name other religions which are also present in Indonesia.
  21. What is the dominant Islamic denomination?
  22. Name every Grand Imam of Indonesia in order.
  23. What is our national language?
  24. Name at least four regional languages.
  25. Which ethnic group is the biggest?
  26. Name at least six other ethnic groups.
  27. Indonesia has the ____ biggest population of any countries on earth. Answer it with an ordinal number.
  28. Name at least five traditional dishes.
  29. Name at least two traditional musical instruments.
  30. Name at least three folktales.
  31. Name at least two traditional dance styles.
  32. Name at least four folk songs. State their provinces/ethnic groups of origin.
  33. Name at least two Candis (ancient Buddhist temples).
  34. Name at least three state-funded universities.
  35. State at least two countries which used to colonise Indonesia.
  36. Name every Indonesian president in order.
  37. What is the official name of Indonesia? State it in Indonesian.
  38. What was its name before independence?
  39. When did we declare independence?
  40. When was our independence recognised by the whole world?
  41. Which country was the first to recognise it?
  42. Name at least three ancient kingdoms which existed in present-time Indonesia. State their religious affiliations.
  43. What was G30s?
  44. What were Orde Lama and Orde Baru?
  45. What is our national symbol?
  46. What is our national motto? State it in the original language and state the English translation.
  47. What is the name of our state ideology? State all of its principles.

You know what? I have to stop or I will end up with hundreds of questions.

Many Indonesians will have a hard time answer all of those questions. A sad fact I acknowledge. But, if you are one of those snooty foreigners who sincerely believe you know Indonesia more than Indonesians do, you should be able to answer more than half of them. In fact, you should know which among them are trick questions.

Never mind answering half of them. I am certain many of you can’t pass the first question.

Considering how I have encountered snooty Americans, Brits and Aussies who get some basic facts about their countries wrong, my low expectation is not condescending. It is realistic.

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Dealing with conspiracy “theorists” is hard

Of course, it is! Everyone knows how exhausting it is to drag them back to earth. When I say “hard”, I am referring to something else.

Studies show we can change their minds by being empathetic. While I don’t have the means to question their validity, my own anecdotes have said something similar: even if you fail to change minds, your diplomacy can encourage people to consider your viewpoints and reconsider their own.

If the “theorists” simply believe in wacky beliefs, then I am willing to be kind towards them. I would not pander to their irrationality. But, I would try to not be a dick.

If the “theorists” believe in debunked medical misinformation and extremely bigoted conspiracies about the “others”, then I have a problem.

Those people are dangerous not because of their beliefs, but because they feel obliged to do something about them. They don’t see themselves as dangerous, they see themselves as truth-exposing heroes. Worse, they believe it is our moral obligations to incite violent against our fellow human beings and let them infected with preventable diseases because suffering from permanent bodily damages is better than being vaccinated.

And you expect us to believe we owe them compassion?

Until they have proven themselves to be decent human beings, the only thing they are worthy of is to be put in their places. Considering how horrible of human beings they are, I believe it is acceptable if the scolding turns verbally abusive. If ugliness is the only thing you can offer, then ugliness is the only thing you deserve.

Yes, I am willing to accept that niceness is the most effective way to go. But, its proponents should realise it is fucking easier said than done.

Oh, and I used to be one of those conspiracy “theorists”. While I certainly was not on a Qanon level, I was also on my way to religious zealotry, a destination which I never arrived at. If I did, I would definitely be on that level.

If I have the chance to go back in time, I would beat the shit out of my past self for many reasons and believing conspiracies is one. I would not empathise with him. It is humiliating to even reminisce that aspect of my past.

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‘Practical’ education, still misguidedly elitist

I think many of you -my non-existing readers- agree schools need to teach practical skills. Even if there are no specialised vocational trainings, at least there should be introductory classes for high schoolers.

But, it seems others take a much more extreme approach to the suggestion.

My idea of ideal education compels students to study both the theoretical disciplines and the practical ones. Liberal arts and vocational education all in one.

I don’t know how much people out there who share my idea. But, I do know some people want to go as far as eliminating theories from the curricula altogether. Replace algebra with finance, they say. Things like algebra are only suitable for universities, they say.

Basically, they want literally every high school to be a vocational high school. Their reasoning? They want to get rid of elitism and they want to improve socio-economic mobility of lower-income youths; studying ‘useless knowledge’ would hinder them from achieving the goals, they believe.

Yeah, that’s a load of shit.

Yes, practical disciplines do teach us about what is and isn’t feasible. But, it does not encourage us to question our worldview. Do you know what can encourage us to be sceptical? The so-called ‘useless’ disciplines!

They teach us about how the world works socially, politically, economically, biologically, physically, chemically, philosophically, you name it! The more you learn about those different perspectives, the easier it is for you to widen your horizon, to think more critically and creatively.

With better critical and creative thinking, it would be much easier for you to move upward. Well, ideally.

But, even if critical and creative thinking does not guarantee social mobility, I still think only teaching students practical disciplines is detrimental to our society in the long run..

The thing about the so-called ‘useless’ disciplines is they encourage us to learn for the sake of knowledge, to learn without expecting any rewards. If pre-university education teaches nothing but practical disciplines, people will perceive learning for the sake of knowledge as an elite endeavour.

People will believe this endeavour is only suitable for anyone who can afford university tuition fees AKA the wealthy. Even if the tuition fees are affordable for everyone, the misguidedly elitism would still be there.

Why? Because -while no longer reserved for the wealthy- learning for the sake of knowledge is still reserved for a handful of people: anyone who can handle university settings.

The already-existing ivory towers will become more towering and more indestructible.

Seriously, why is the idea of teaching both theories and practical skills so alien for many people? Why can’t we learn both pure mathematics and finance at the same time? Physics and engineering? Chemistry and medicine? Sociology and marketing? Literature and business communication? Studio art and carpentry?

Why can’t we learn both? Porque no los dos?

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For kids

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is an irony in this:

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

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

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The problem with imperial system…

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

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

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

Let’s see…

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

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

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

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

Okay, that’s a bit misleading.

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

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

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

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

Don’t know which one’s worse.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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Literacy increased, thanks to the internet

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. The participatory nature of internet cultures

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

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

2. The unintentionally educational nature of certain content

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

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

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

3. The awareness about public personas

Youtube fans are becoming more cognisant about public personas.

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

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

4. The embrace of irony and post-irony

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

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

Scripted vlogs are one of those ironically enjoyable things.

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

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

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

So…?

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

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

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

I don’t know exactly why they exist. But, they intrigue me

 

I am talking about the opening ceremonies of multi-sports events. Considering I am too lazy to do some research, I will make my own obviously-invalid conjecture about how they came into being.

It seems the elaborateness started on the 1980 Summer Olympics held in Moscow. I assume the USSR tried to compensate for its human rights violations and impoverished populace by bringing out the ‘positivity’ that was the opening ceremony.

I have that assumption because it is no secret countries all over the world, even ones more well-off than the USSR, actively bearing deceptively friendly and warm facades on the international stage. No matter how free and peaceful their countries are, they all need propaganda… and opening ceremonies of multi-sports events make a really good one.

They are the only propaganda I willingly fall for. They are the only reason why I care for some sporting events and they also successfully instil suspension of disbelief into my mind; every time I watch the ceremonies, I am willing to pretend that the host countries are all-perfect, albeit temporarily.

I have made reviews for the opening ceremonies of Asian Games and Para Games 2018 (simply because I am an Indonesian, obviously). Don’t know why it took me a long to review the summer olympics ones.

I will focus on the ones held in Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro, in that order. They are the summer olympics openings I have watched in their entirety.

I know I could have waited for the Tokyo one. But, I want to write this down now.

2000 Sydney

There are three things that I love about this edition: Deep Sea Dreaming segment, Nature segment and James Morrison’s Jazzy fanfare.

I love the two segments because the combination of playful and colourful visuals with soothing orchestral soundtracks result in an ethereal spectatorship. I love the fanfare because of how its energetic sounds compliment the atmosphere of a sporting event.

But, the rest of the ceremony is tacky and problematic.

In contrast to those two specific segments, the others seem to be designed solely to hype up the audience. The segment titled Arrivals even goes so far to exhibit extremely sparse visual and prefers to give spotlight to the kitsch upbeat techno music!

One of my media studies lecturers also pointed out the whitewashing in the Tin Symphony segment. Instead of showcasing the hardship of the British convicts sent to Australia, it only depicts happy early European settlers.

I also pointed to her that throughout the ceremony, one can see the Aboriginal performers observing the performances from afar. It can be interpreted either as a commentary of how Australian Aboriginals are excluded from their country’s festivities OR as a subtle middle finger to them.

It might not be ill-intentioned. But, combined with the historical whitewashing, it can send a wrong message.

2004 Athens

The conclusion unfortunately feels cold and I think the use of trance music during the parade of nations emits an off-putting vibe of self-indulgence. But, at the same time, it is the most artistic and thought-provoking opening ceremony ever… and I said that without any sense of exaggeration.

The Allegory segment really does live up to its name. It is a dream sequence (and I am a sucker for dream-like atmospheres) which features a giant, floating Cycladic head sculpture breathtakingly arising from the body of water with geometric imagery projected onto it. Then, the sculpture breaks into pieces, revealing a more sophisticated sculpture of a human torso inside… which breaks again, revealing another human torso sculpture. A white cube also arises from the water with a man tries to balance himself on it, all while images of human beings and humanity’s achievements projected onto the sculpture’s broken pieces. The segment ends with the pieces land on the water, representing the Greek islands.

Basically, it is an allegory about the evolution of human civilisations and present-day Greece is one of the starting points. I adore this segment for its skilful storytelling with no expositions needed. Anyone with basic knowledge in history will easily get it.

The Clepsydra segment is also a unique segment. It depicts Greek history and mythology. But, how they are depicted struck me. It took me some time to realise the moving things on those carts were not animatronics, they were actual people with painted bodies who deliberately moved like animated sculptures!

It is refreshing from the usual routine of performers wandering all over the venue. It feels less like watching an entertainment show and more like visiting a museum; for someone who loves visiting museums, it is certainly a strength.

I always wonder about the performers: were they dancers, actors or models? I thought about those three professions because they clearly require mastery of our body languages.

The presence of Björk, a musician known for her intense musical exploration, surely bolsters the event’s overall artistry as well.

2008 Beijing

I know people will rip me for this (as if my essay will ever blow up): this edition is too overrated.

The more mature I get, the more I see how tacky it is. In fact, it is as tacky as the Sydney one. No regard for aesthetic, only for the audience’s desire for eye candy.

Okay, it is a bit unfair. The Beijing edition is certainly more grandiose and therefore, requires more discipline from the performers. Disciplined enough to work as a large collective, but still manage to look like humans instead of robots.

2012 London

Aesthetic wise, I am not that impressed. Many of the choreographies (excluding the one in the 7/7 tribute) are either awkward or basic. The one in the children’s literature segment looks like it was created by an amateur.

The event is also another pander express. It chooses to showcase the United Kingdom’s most famous aspect of life: pop culture. Of course, I do understand why the focus is not on British heritage or history; the former may be boring to non-Brits and the latter is associated with colonialism and must be executed with great tact. Pop culture is a safe choice. But, it makes the entire ceremony feels like a commercially-produced British TV show.

Strangely, I also think it has emotional profundity lacking in the other editions. The joy, the grief, the sense of wonder, they don’t feel artificial. They feel sincere.

I wonder if it has something to do with the nature of British entertainment.

From what I observe, American and Indonesian ones (especially when one talks about ‘reality’ TV shows) can be forceful with the emotions; they love to dictate the audience on what to feel. British entertainment, on the other hand, prefers to let them speak for themselves and it is always transparent about their absence.

Obviously, my statement is too simplistic as exceptions does and will always exist. But, from my personal experiences, Indonesian and American entertainment constantly annoy me with their overt-sentimentality which always comes across as insincere; British one barely annoys me like that.

2016 Rio de Janeiro

I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with this edition.

It has eye-catching visuals, it has upbeat music… and yet, it feels anaemic. It reminds me of a person who tries to put a lively and energetic facade when deep down, he/she in favour of calmness and quietness. I have such observation because the calmer segments work rather well.

My God, the environmentalist message. Why does it have to be so on-the-nose? When will people realise that blatant messages in the arts and entertainment are fucking off-putting? How will this make people accept that humans are a a part of nature and not above it?

The only thing I like about the ceremony is the acknowledgement of Brazil’s history of slavery. I love it because such acknowledge is refreshing to any countries… and because it is actually goddamn subtle and not dependent on any fucking bullshit expositions!

Which editions are my favourites?

The Athens and London ones, if you can’t tell.

Instead of completely pandering to the masses as the creative director of the Athens edition, Dimitris Papaioannou maintained his identity as an artist. Creators must be commended for that because, whether we want to admit it or not, the members of the audience were benefited by non-escapist and artistic presentations and having their horizon widened even further. Considering the global significance of the olympics, Papaioannou did millions of people a favour by compelling them to stay ‘switched on’, albeit only for a while.

And yes, I am making a big deal out of the London edition’s emotional sincerity. It is just that I am deeply revolted by the synthetic emotionality which many creatures prefer over the organic one; they prefer the former because they think being obvious equals being sincere. Running into the latter is such a nice, rare treat.

But, do you what is nicer? Fusing both strengths into one.

Can you imagine watching an opening ceremony that makes you think and feel? Right now, I can only yearn for such gratification.

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Groundbreaking… yet unfeeling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personally, I prefer Somebody To Love.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, three reasons.

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

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

Reason three: I fucking hate fake fans.

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

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

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

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

Is that so fucking hard to do?!

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