“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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    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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    A childhood treasure I didn’t know having

    When I was a toddler, I remember watching feature films from those gigantic laser discs and one of my favourite films to watch was Disney’s Fantasia.

    The original one, NOT the so-so sequel.

    Back then, I didn’t try to comprehend the plots. I was simply mesmerised by the beautiful colours and shapes, adorned with harmonious classical music. It felt like I was watching a magically-animated painting, accompanied by a live musical performance.

    Along with my beloved encyclopedias, I credit the film for making my childhood a colourful and vibrant life chapter where even the sky was not a limit. It felt like every inch of the universe was worthy to unearth.

    When I started attending primary school, VCDs had become widespread. I started to watch more movies on the smaller discs and I started neglecting their bulkier predecessors. So, between pre-school and adulthood, I forgot about the existence of the film.

    Yikes.

    I managed to watch it again when I was eighteen. As I already started becoming a snobby cultural critic, I started to appreciate its merit.

    Even though I don’t think it was an extraordinarily groundbreaking film*, it still effortlessly stands out among many Hollywood flicks. To this day, I am still surprised that one of my childhood favourites is of high quality. Most of them tend to be shit.

    And, because of its uniqueness, it shapes my taste in the arts and entertainment as an adult.

    Magically, absurdly and subconsciously realistic

    The segments that feature abstract animations are my very first exposures to abstract art. Now, I am one of those weirdos who genuinely enjoy staring at abstract paintings.

    I don’t care about the lack of coherent narrative. As long as the combination of shapes and colours impress me, I will consider the paintings beautiful regardless.

    I also have to credit it for inspiring me to love surrealism and magical realism, making me attracted to the weird and inexplicably fantastical.

    Nowadays, some of my favourite films include ones with strong metaphysical themes and/or ones that portray the inexplicable. They include Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 and The Shining and much of Andrei Tarkovsky’s works.

    While Fantasia is of neither genre, its sublimely fantastical depictions of natural phenomena certainly help opening the path.

    And it is certainly metaphysical.

    Unhinged sophistication

    When I listened to Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring supposedly for the first time, it felt like an inexplicable surge of nostalgia ran through my veins, as if I had heard it before. It turned out I had: it is one of the soundtracks of Fantasia!

    My early exposure to the modernist composition possibly influenced my taste in classical music. I prefer the more stylistically-eclectic and/or “unhinged” newer works -like ones by Stravinsky (obviously) , George Gershwin and John Cooliged Adams- over the older ones, many of which I find a bit too saccharine.

    In fact, I now love to complain about how films, especially fantastical ones, are too dependent on cliche-sounding orchestral music and are too afraid to utilise more ambient, more eclectic and more “untraditional” compositions.

    The lovely dread

    Chernabog is probably one of my first exposures to “scary entertainment”, even though I was never terrified by it. Again, I was too busy mesmerised by the beautiful animation.

    Beautifully haunting and sinister animation, showcasing something one can describe as a symbolic representation of the dark side of humanity.

    As an adult, I have a weird thing for entertainment with ominous atmosphere, as in you feel scared even though nothing scary is happening on-screen. You know, actual horror instead of cheap jump scares.

    I am not a fan of the show Criminal Minds due to its dehumanising depictions of mental illness sufferers. But, I do love the episode where the heroes unwittingly cooperate with a police station where virtually every officer is corrupt; it genuinely feels like they can be ambushed at any time. It feels like real life horror.

    Horror is not about what you explicitly show, it is about the feeling of terror you induce on your audience.

    Connecting non-existing dots

    Admittedly, what I just said do sound far-fetched.

    It is indeed absurd to claim one feature film dictates my entire taste as an adult. There are many things that can be taken account as the influencing factors.

    As I hinted in the beginning, I also read encyclopedias frequently as a young child and some of them not only discuss “weird” paintings and sculptures, they also display the photos. Basically, they partook in the exposure.

    One of my favourite musicians is Chrisye, an Indonesian Pop singer whose early works reek influence from Genesis -a Progressive Rock band- and the band’s genre does sound “unhinged” to the “untrained” ears. After discovering that particular musical style, I ended up craving for more “weird” sounds.

    And those films that I love, I also have to credit my time wasted on Wikipedia and my Media Studies classes as contributing factors; I would not have heard of Andrei Tarkovsky if it wasn’t for the former and I would not have watched a single film from West Africa if it wasn’t for the latter.

    My love of ominous entertainment may also be rooted by many years of watching horror films and eventually ended up frustrated with the excessive amount of cheap jump scares, craving for actual feeling of terror.

    Oh, and don’t forget about my personality. Our personalities not only dictate how we interact with each other, they also dictate what we love and hate.

    I am a weirdo and have been called such since forever.

    Therefore, my current taste can still come to being even without Fantasia in my life.

    But, still…

    As I said before, the film is a huge part of my childhood. While it is clearly not the only factor that shapes my taste, it certainly is a major one.

    It certainly accelerates its formation and it certainly aggravated its potency.

    Without the film, it would probably take me a much longer time to love the things I now love.

    *I refuse to call Fantasia a groundbreaking film because I don’t think it is.

    Yes, it certainly has a relatively unusual approach in regards to moving image narratives and may be unappealing for those who want more glaring expositions, who think escapism equals quality and who cannot give more damn about visual artistry.

    But, if you dig deeper into the history of cinema, you would see there were already ground-breaking cinema movements -like surrealism and Italian futurism- that predated the film’s existence.

    And works of those genres are bizarre and incomprehensible for the masses. Not matter how weird Fantasia is, I still think it is relatively comprehensible.

    If anything, its audio and visual aesthetics were already conventional at the time of its release.

    The risk-taking was indeed high. But, it was not that high.

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    Bizarrely mournful

    Many years ago, me, my family and a friend of my sister were vacationing in Singapore (as my Indonesian hometown is just an hour of ferry ride away).

    We made an impromptu excursion to the then-ongoing Titanic exhibition because it genuinely sounded exciting, especially for me, who thinks museums are way cooler than shopping malls and theme parks… and I will fight those who think otherwise.

    After we bought the tickets, it didn’t take long for the strangeness to arose.

    At the entrance, a ticket-checking attendant greeted us and cheerfully said something along the line of, “find out if you survive until the end!”.

    Wait, what?

    I don’t remember if others were shocked or not. But, me? I was personally so weirded out! The sentence itself is dark on its own. But, to exclaim it with a cheerful tone to visitors who just want to have a playful visit is bizarrely dark.

    But, once we entered, I temporarily forgot my sense of bewilderment. I was too busy being enthralled by the content of the exhibition.

    I don’t remember every detail of it. But, I do remember they showcased the actual objects unearthed inside Titanic, which include the passengers’ personal belongings.

    I also remember a segment of the exhibition where they tried to emulate the feeling of being underwater; they did so by (if I remember correctly) installing clear glass floor tiles which revealed the bed of sand beneath, painting the wall black and designing the lighting so that it emits the underwater light effect. Probably the first time I realised curation was an art form.

    But, the climax of the tour was the part when we were shown a list of the actual passengers. Their names and their survival status were on display.

    At that moment, I realised every individual ticket tried to emulate one of an ocean liner by having each of them printed with one of the passengers’ names. Basically, showcasing the story of the Titanic also included making the visitors felt like we were also the passengers!

    I was excited when searching for the fate of my passenger. But, I quickly found out that he was among the casualties. His life ceased to exist on April 15, 1912.

    One or some of the people who visited the exhibition with me laughed at me for “being one of the casualties”. But then, I was too busy grieving to take heed of the mocking laugher.

    Yes, grieving!

    I was genuinely heartbroken the man whose name was printed on my perishable ticket died. It felt like he was someone I had known for many years and death took him away without warning.

    I tried to get rid of the sadness off me… and it literally took me hours to do so. I was and still am an emotional person. But, even at that moment, I felt irrational and extremely mushy for grieving his death.

    Every time I remembered that day, I was always baffled by the occurrence of this “phenomenon”. Basically, I overthought and not immediately realise the ticket was the answer.

    It was very blatant from the start that they printed the passengers’ names on the tickets to enhance the immersion. So, an emotional person like me would probably experience grief after the visit.

    But, that didn’t explain why the grief didn’t strike my mom and sister, especially that they are more likely to fall for sob stories than I am.

    Well, I presume it has something to do with our intentions. Me and my family did visit the exhibition because we wanted to have fun. But, we had different reasons why we considered the visit fun.

    My mom and sister were in it probably because Titanic is arguably the most popular ship in the world and its sinking the most well-known maritime accident. For them, it is pop culture.

    I, on the other hand, just wanted to learn. Yes, I am patting myself on the back. But, I have been curious about anything “useless” since forever.

    When I was young, I read encyclopedias as much as I read comic books. Nowadays, I browse the web to find out about information like the different systems of government and the different styles of postmodern architecture.

    I went to the exhibition because I wanted to know more about Titanic beyond what James Cameron’s film showed. I wanted to learn about what makes the ocean liner so iconic… and, most importantly, I wanted to learn about the untold human stories!

    The immersion made me emotional probably because my intention made me so.

    Now about the intentions of the organisers…

    I don’t know why they printed the passengers’ names on the tickets. Maybe they wanted to create a fun experiences for the masses. But, they might also crossed their fingers and hoped some visitors got emotional as a bonus culmination. I can only speculate.

    But, one thing for sure: I am glad they printed the names. Thanks to them, I realised that empathy is a part of learning experiences.

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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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    How NOT to introduce people to new cultures

    No, I am not basing it on my real life experiences. I am too much of a hermit to directly immerse myself in different cultures, too much of a hermit to even bother interacting with fellow human beings.

    And yes, instead of writing about how to introduce people to new cultures, I prefer to write about how NOT to. I am so easily drawn to negativity.

    My thoughts are based on what I have observed on Youtube videos and their comment sections. Buzzfeed videos produced years ago still linger in my mind because they featured American reactors of foreign dishes who were often lambasted by the comment sections not only for their ‘disrespectful’ reactions, but also for their limited tastebuds. But, I was more annoyed by the commenters than I was by the American reactors. Still am.

    Years after discovering Buzzfeed, I found Simon and Martina who made videos about their life in South Korea before moving to Japan. They often took a very contentious tone when speaking about South Korea which angered many Koreans and Koreaboos, ignoring how the couple still emotionally-attachment to the country even after leaving it.

    Right around the same time, I also discovered Englishman Chris Broad who initially made sarcasm-laced videos about some basic information about Japan. Then, as his career progresses, he makes more travelling content. Despite being grumpier and more sarcastic than Simon and Martina, his honest assertions about the country he lives in somehow feel less contentious than the couple’s regarding Korea. But, he is not without controversy, which I will discuss it later.

    Through Simon and Martina, I was introduced to Josh Carrott AKA the Korean Englishman; took me a year to check out his videos. Unlike them, he almost has entirely positive view of South Korea. I am usually suspicious of anyone who have utterly positive opinions about anything; it often comes off as insincere. But, with Josh, I don’t have that problem at all and I will also explain why later.

    I also have to mention Life Where I’m From, a Youtube channel run by Canadian Greg Lam who documents the life in Japan. While the Chris Broad and Simon and Martina occasionally make videos that can count as documentaries, Greg is the biggest documentarian among them.

    Not only he interviews significantly more individuals, he is also a lot more methodical on which information he wants to display, on how he obtains it and on how he presents them; he also sees entertainment values as supplementaries. As a result, he does a great job in destroying negative stereotypes about Japan while simultaneously putting more attention on the downsides of life in Japan. He does a better job in portraying the country with nuances than many of those so-called journalists.

    Now, to the reason why you clicked in the first place.

    For me, before you even consider introducing people to new cultures, you should NEVER do the following:

    Use stereotypes

    We all know bigots love to use stereotypes. But, the thing is even people who claim to be ‘tolerant’ and interested in other cultures fall for them as well; instead of using negative stereotypes, they use the positive or neutral ones.

    Yes, they are not negative. But, they are still stereotypes. They still see their fellow human beings as the ‘others’ who are devoid of human intricacies. It is still dehumanising.

    Excluding Josh Carrott and Buzzfeed hosts, the aforementioned Youtubers frequently described how Koreans and/or Japanese people behave and, on a surface level, the descriptions do sound stereotypical.

    But, if you listen closely, they actually debunk some of the stereotypes and reveal things we never expect from either nation. That’s because the descriptions are NOT based on hearsay, they are based on said Youtubers’ personal experiences interacting with the actual people!

    Unlike stereotypes which are entirely simplistic and rigid, human beings are complex and unpredictable creatures who will never fit into any preconceived moulds, no matter how much you force them. The more you know them, the more you feel guilty about ever forcing them in the first place.

    While he describes Japanese people as generally unassertive and shy, Chris Broad also had an easy time making his Japanese friends and colleagues -some of whom were older than him- eagerly learn English profanities; he knows that Japanese people are human beings, NOT ‘cute, cuddly anime characters’ as he put it in a subsequent video. In fact, his friend Natsuki has no qualm about doing antics publicly (e.g. dressing and acting like Zorro) and approaching a complete stranger just to befriend him/her, which was how the two met.

    One of my favourite Greg Lam’s video is The Rules That Rule Japan, which title is self-explanatory. To summarise it, Japan is ruled by written and unwritten rules that seemingly contradict each other and, depending on which rules, the breaching is not always considered a faux pas. Basically, if you want to know how it is like living in Japan, you’ve got to live in Japan.

    And it is not just Japan. Virtually every country on earth also shares similar situations regarding rules. Mind you, Japan is a very homogenous country and yet it is a very complex society to break down effortlessly. Now, just imagine breaking down more populated and more diverse countries like my home country Indonesia. If a country’s description feels so simple, then it is very likely infiltrated with inaccuracies.

    A year after leaving South Korea for Japan, Simon and Martina made a video titled Japan or Korea: Did We Make The Right Choice? in which they expressed their preference towards Japan as a place to live. They were honest and uninhibited with their criticism about the living conditions in South Korea. But, it seems people don’t even bother to watch until the end.

    The couple also explicitly made a disclaimer about how they were speaking from their own personal experiences and acknowledged that others might have diverging impressions about either country. Many in the comment sections, presumably both Koreaphobes and zealous Korean nationalists, ignore the disclaimer and thoughtlessly spew their dogmatic vitriol.

    They intentionally ignore the video’s nuances just for the sake of affirming their versions of ‘reality’. They also ignore that Simon and Martina still see South Korea as their second home; even Simon said randomly meeting a Korean person in Japan made him feel at home.

    Thanks to Chris Broad and Greg Lam, my interest in Japan actually increases and thanks to Simon and Martina, I have actually become interested in South Korea. My interest increases and emerges NOT despite of the scores of scathing tones, but because of it.

    The imperfection makes both countries feel more real and human. The older I get, the more I actually find absolute positivity nauseating.

    Be extreme

    … And my hatred of absolute positivity is the reason why, as I mentioned before, I hate those who made negative comments on Buzzfeed’s food reaction videos more than their trashy American reactions.

    For those commenters, NOT liking the dishes was not an option. They believe the reactors HAD to like them! For them, not liking those dishes was akin to spitting on their faces. They genuinely remind me of over-zealous fandoms.

    Correct me if I am wrong. But, those reactors volunteered to be in the videos; basically, no matter how unrefined their behaviours were, they were willing to try to new things and that is something we must appreciate! To this day, my willingness to try new things is still too minimal.

    I previously mentioned Josh the Korean Englishman whose (seemingly) absolutely positive view about South Korea does not put me off; nowadays, anything that seems will immediately put off. I believe it has something to do with how he expresses his love of Korea.

    Some of his videos can be summarised as ‘foreigners (mostly English) trying Korean foods’ and those foreigners are not only honest about whether they like the foods or not, they sometimes make jokes about them… and you know what? Josh was not offended at all!

    He does not care whether they love the food or not, he just wants to share an aspect of one of his beloved cultures. If anything, his passionate yet civilised tactic actually works! His friends end up appreciating Korean culture. Even his mom and his best friend’s father, whom have been repeatedly described as ‘very English’, also end up appreciating Korean culture!

    But, even if you are not a hostile, you should be methodical in how you introduce a certain culture. Don’t go straight to the ‘weird’ stuffs.

    If you want to introduce someone to Japanese cuisine, don’t go straight to sushi, sashimi or natto. Not every country in the world eats raw meat and foul-smelling, fermented soybeans. Take it easy and go with tempura and ramen first, which I know will make easy starts as fried foods and noodle soups are common all over the world.

    If I were tasked to introduce Indonesian cuisine to foreigners, I would consider their backgrounds. If they are of East Asian descent, I would start with Chinese-Indonesian dishes. If they are of South Asian descent, I would start with gulai dishes which are considered as ‘Indonesian curries’. Unless the foreigners are from other Southeast Asian countries, I would think twice about starting with Sundanese and Javanese cuisine due to them being almost entirely indigenous.

    If you go extreme -whether in how you behave or how you determine the starting points-, you would deter others from being adventurous.

    Be arrogant

    I do believe the ability to appreciate different cultures is a sign of sophistication. But, I still think there is no excuse for self-conceit. Our relatively broad cultural palates exist because the cultural exposures we have experienced…

    …And those exposures exist because of our fellow human beings. You would not be as sophisticated if it wasn’t for them.

    I used to be smug about my cultural sophistication. I was able (and still am) to appreciate the both foreign cultures and the distinct regional Indonesian ones, particularly in the forms of foods and music. But then, I realised that my tastes in both have something to do with me being a citizen of Indonesia, a culturally diverse country that also willingly accepts foreign cultures; I have lived in the Greater Jakarta area, which is unsurprisingly diverse, and my hometown Batam has not one but five dominant ethnic groups and is located near Singapore and Malaysia.

    When it comes to my music taste, I also have to credit one of my music teachers and my mom. My teacher introduced me to Mahavishnu Orchestra, which was my gateway to more complicated music and my mom had the 1999 version of Badai Pasti Berlalu CD, which was my gateway to quality Indonesian pop.

    My relatively-sophisticated taste is a product of my socio-cultural environment and I can confidently say the same thing can be said about yours… and Josh Carrott’s.

    His attachment to Korean culture was born out of his sense of isolation as the only British student in an international school in China. It was the Korean students, the school’s main demographic, who took care of him and consequentially exposing him to the culture. If they didn’t do so and/or he decided to transfer to an English boarding school, he would not have his dual Korean-English identity. There would be no Korean Englishman!

    In the case of Simon and Martina, Chris Broad and Greg Lam, it is different from Josh’s and mine. Their appreciation of foreign cultures emerged or increased after they moved abroad; Greg moved because he is married to a Japanese citizen while the others decided to teach English as a foreign language. Without their decisions which require them to leave their national and cultural bubble, they would not have the cultural sophistication they have now.

    And because our experiences have definitely happened to other human beings, it is very reasonable to assert that we are NOT the only ones who possess cultural sophistication.

    …..

    Once again, I have to remind you that I have never done anything that is remotely similar to what those Youtubers are doing. I am basing my words on my observation of Youtube’s content.

    Yes, I do not have any peer-reviewed studies supporting what I am arguing above. But, let us use common sense here: do you seriously think hostility, conceit and the tendency to stereotype are desirable traits in an individual?

    Whether you believe it or not, those traits are off-putting. Embracing even just one of them means you are repelling others from liking you; the only ones you attract are those who share your repellent quality and are also avoided by more well-refined personalities.

    If people are disgusted by you, how do you expect them to love what you love? If anything, not only others won’t end up loving what you love, they will end up hating it. It does not matter whether it is of good quality or not.

    You, the enthusiast, are seen as a representative of the thing you love. Because you are such an abhorrent individual, many will assume the thing you love is equally abhorrent. I mentioned ugly personalities attract each other and it seems some people believe the same principle applies to non-living entities as well; many people thought the extremist tendency of Steven Universe fandom manifested the show’s poor quality, despite having never watched a single episode.

    Yes, it is fallacious to deem something solely based on the behaviours of its enthusiasts. But, it is also wrong to carry ourselves so dementedly, we present outsiders an extremely distorted view of our fellow enthusiasts and, most importantly, the thing we love.

    We love it so much, we make others hate it.

    ……

    Now, those of you who are not guilty of such abhorrence may think I am making a big deal out of nothing and I am like a cat fighting his own reflection in the mirror; admittedly, I can be that neurotic and I have lost count how many mirrors I have smashed. But, if you have ever interacted with your fellow human beings online and offline, you would acknowledge that common sense is not common.

    If you watched Buzzfeed videos many years, you would remember how malicious the comment sections can be against the hosts simply for not liking certain dishes. Even if you were never interested in such content, I am sure you have interacted with fandoms who think they can abuse anyone into loving their beloved idols and works of entertainment.

    The idea that common sense being common is an exaggeration.

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    How to ‘feel’ powerful?

    *puts on a mask*

    Yes, I said ‘feel’. Let’s face it, you know you are not powerful and will never be so! You will always be a pathetic bottom dweller that the upper dwellers will feast on! That’s a sad fact you have to accept!

    But, that doesn’t mean you cannot ‘feel’ powerful. You can induce the feeling by fooling others and yourself about your make-believe power. Of course, I am talking about being a bully.

    Before becoming one, you have to choose your victims. It always depend on where you are.

    When at schools, you can pick on students who are poor, physically unfit or just plain different. When you see yourself as a member of society at large, you can pick on the ones who belong to marginalised groups like women, the poor, racial minorities, religious minorities, gender and sexual minorities and refugees. Basically, choose ones who most likely will not be protected by the authorities.

    After you have determined your potential victims, you can start bullying them. Immediately, you will feel like a much more powerful! And trust me, you would not be the only one who senses your actually-non-existing power.

    Indifferent bystanders, bullying apologists and even your victims will acknowledge its existence. In fact, the more your victims’ powerlessness intensifies, the more they will acknowledge it!

    Oh, and apologists are your best friends! Not only they will defend your right to bully because they don’t see anything wrong with the bullying, they will also condemn or even punish your victims for having the dignity to fight back! Trust me, those apologists tend to be influential wherever they are. Their words are often taken for granted.

    But, even if you don’t have apologists to back you up, rhetoric can be your weapon. You can defend yourself by slandering your victims.

    Tell everyone that the weird kids in school will grow up as serial killers!

    Tell everyone that the gender and sexual minorities are perverts who want to molest our children and/ recruit them to their perverted lifestyles!

    Tell everyone that the poor are the ones who hold the economies down because they are greedy animals who oppress the rich!

    Tell everyone that empowering women and members of the minorities will lead to men and members of the majority becoming second-class citizens!

    Tell everyone that refugees are nothing but a bunch of cowardly rapists and ISIS, MS13 Trojan horses!

    Tell everyone that your victims, NOT you, are the ones who commit atrocious acts of inhumanity against their fellow human beings!

    Trust me, there will be people who take your words for granted.

    And yes, it is that easy to feel powerful.

    *takes off the mask*

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    A message to ex-fans of The Rewired Soul

    Let me start with welcoming words:

    Cut your fucking bullshit.

    You may think by unsubscribing from Boutté’s channel, you have never validated his toxicity. Well, whether you believe it or not, you had done it.

    Not only you enjoy watching him bullying other content creators, you even partook in the activity! You saw him as nothing but an angelic figure whose heart was entirely pure, whose actions were anything but wrong. You demonised his victims for having the guts to defend themselves from the malice and you demonised his critics for defending them. In fact, you were willing to send the SWAT teams to anyone who dared to speak against your prophet.

    By partaking in the abuse, you felt like you were doing something for the greater good.

    And that ‘nice’ feeling ended when commentary channels started ganging up on him; you were suddenly aware of the toxicity and regretting you were fans of his. But, because of what I just said in the previous paragraph, I don’t believe your realisation and remorse are thoroughly sincere.

    How the fuck did you fail to see the bullying right in front of you? Were all of your senses impaired or something? Did you think bullying is an entirely physical act? Or maybe you were dupable enough to easily fall for his phony ‘mental health advocacy’ rhetoric and you thought intentions were everything? While they are in the realm of possibility, I also have a more contentious hypothesis: it is hard to hate the snake in front of you when you are also ones.

    Why would you hate it, anyway? Doing so yourselves means you have to hate the snakes in you. Deep down, you are probably glad commentary channels were the first to call him out; that way, you don’t have to embrace contemplation. You don’t have to condemn yourselves for the poisonous human beings you are.

    Oh, and don’t forget some of you unsubscribed from him NOT because you were repulsed his abusiveness, but because he lied to YOU. Your standard of morality is so low, you determine a person’s moral integrity NOT by how he/she treats his/her fellow human beings in general, but only by how he/she treats YOU.

    Someone or something is a problem only if he/she/it affects your negatively. If not, you wouldn’t see him/her/it as a problem and you would look down on or even berate anyone who does.

    The only ex-fans of TRS I truly respect are the ones who are willing to admit their lapse of judgement and their participation in the maliciousness instead of claiming sinlessness, are ones who quickly took heed of his venom-spewing once it surfaced. I have never encountered the former. But, I have encountered the latter lots of times in Youtube videos’ comment sections.

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