As an introvert, the pandemic has finally affected me… in a bad way

No, I don’t miss large social situations.

I know some extroverts insist that, deep down, introverts prefer large social situations over solitude. Of course, they are stupid because that’s the exact opposite of what introversion is. They still believe “true introverts” are damaged, even though some extroverts’ willingness to risk public health for the sake of partying shows they are not immune from damage.

In fact, many introverts (who are free from financial problems) use the opportunity to be free from burdensome social “duties”. If it wasn’t for the adversities, I would have used a more celebratory tone.

I don’t miss the crowds. But, I do have to admit: I have developed a new anxiety.

Before the pandemic, I only had one reason to hate social gatherings: just like any introverts, I found them mentally grueling. Speaking for myself specifically, the less I was familiar with the people, the more exhausted I would end up.

And now, not only I still find them hectic, I also perceive them as potential disease incubator; considering a pandemic can last for years and there is always a potentiality for another one, I doubt my fear would dissipate soon.

Never mind encountering actual crowds. Even the sight of one in a goddamn video makes me anxious. They have become doubly stressful.

No, this does not prove extroverts’ inherent superiority. Let me remind you that some of them help spreading the disease. It shows extroversion’s liability in crises like this.

My point is I was a bit too assured about mentally surviving the pandemic, thinking introversion immunised me. Fortunately, like the one I have been having for years, this new anxiety is not crippling; I can live my daily life with ease.

But, it is a problem nonetheless.

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How to depict violence

There is a spoiler alert for the Amazon show Invincible, assuming you are not exposed to its memes.

I genuinely don’t mind about the presence of violence in arts and entertainment. My problem lies on how it is being depicted.

For one, it is obvious many in the creative industry are either too lazy or too incompetent to depict violence off-screen. I prefer the violence to be insinuated and having a greater focus on the aftermath. I am sure even adequately diligent and skilled filmmakers are able to create such scenes.

But, I won’t dwell too much on the undisguised depiction. As much as I love complaining about it, I am still able to tolerate the lack of subtlety. What I don’t tolerate is the trivialisation.

Here’s the thing about trauma: literally anything can traumatise you. Something does not have to be violent or injurious to be traumatic. It can be so by simply being significantly bad in your life.

And yet, most entertainment works love depicting violence as something which won’t traumatise us, as something we can brush off easily.

Even in superhero stories, I find that problematic. Yes, superheroes have superhuman physical strength. But, immunity from mental disorders is never explicitly mentioned.

I make a big deal out of this because we are accustomed to perceive mental disorders as either weaknesses or things we choose to suffer from. The fact that the media we consume do the same thing means our false perception is constantly being affirmed. It certainly does not help that many characters in our favourite entertainment are relatable, even those who are not (fully) human beings.

Even if they don’t or won’t suffer mentally, at least mention how desensitised they have or will become.

Oh, and there is a reason why I mentioned superheroes and non-human characters.

Recently, I have been watching clips (no, not entire episodes) of Invincible; if it wasn’t for a comic book nerd friend of mine, I would have never heard of the show.

Just by watching the snippets, I cannot help but feeling impressed. The voice acting performance is great, it is emotionally impactful and the inclusion of humour is seamless (love the scene where our protagonist almost catches his parents “doing it”).

And then, there are the scenes the show is infamous for.

Disappointed that Mark is too soft, his father “toughens” him up by using his body to mutilate innocent people. When the method fails, his dad beats him literally almost to death.

Mark ends up hospitalised for two weeks and is obviously saddened by his father’s betrayal. But, there are no indications of impending psychological trauma.

I don’t know why. But, if it wasn’t for the show’s existence, I would have never thought about this.

There are indeed exceptions. But, they are too rare for my liking.

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Facing fears can be pointless

Some fears do need to be confronted when they are severe enough to cripple our daily lives. You know, fearing social interactions to the point where one suffers from agoraphobia.

Do I have fear of them? Yes, I do and my stuttering may be either the cause or the exacerbating factor. Sometimes, when I have to communicate with strangers using more than ten sentences, I do get nervous.

But, they are always manageable. You won’t see me sweating and hyperventilating. I can easily go to stores, banks, gas stations and any places where the strangers are.

Considering I – an introverted, socially-awkward and stuttering homebody – am able live my daily social life and fulfil my practical needs with great ease, I see no reasons why I should waste my time and energy getting rid of something which is practically a trivial nuisance.

Out of social pressure, I tried to get rid of it by interacting with more people. Every time I do that, I become more aware of my own stuttering and awkwardness, needlessly amplifying my self-awareness. Essentially, I become an even bigger wreck.

It is the similar with my fear of height.

It is rare for me to be in a situation where fearlessness against height benefits me. I don’t have window-cleaning or the likes as a job.

And yes, just like my fear of social interactions, my fear of height never cripples me. I never have problems looking down from a cliff or a high-rise building and, unless there is bad weather or a recent news of a crash, an airplane ride is doable for me.

And yes, I have also been coerced to get rid of it and the attempts are not only futile, they give me a bad mood for the rest of the day.

My point is we should focus on actually debilitating defects, instead of the ones that people demand us to fix because they let other people’s trivial weaknesses ruin their lives.

It is like spending time and money to remove a tiny mole on one’s skin simply because it does not meet some else’s shallow beauty standard.

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The only episode of Criminal Minds that I love

Overall, I despise the show like a plague. Even without the ungodly demonisation of mental illnesses sufferers, it would still make a lame horror or thriller TV show.

I mean, come on! Do you expect me to watch people murdered in unusually grotesque manners and get deeply unnerved? Why should I be fearful of horrible things that are mostly hypothetical and not experienced by most people? Why should I be fearful of things that are not close to home?

Most of the time, the show tries too hard to be terrifying. Most of the time.

Season nine’s 24th episode is an exception. Titled Demons, it features corrupt cops instead of mentally unstable characters as the bad guys.

As the main characters need to travel all over the country, they often get assistance from the local police forces, using their headquarters as makeshift offices. In this episode, they unwittingly enter the lion’s den, thinking it was a safe space.

Once they realise how corrupt the entire police force is, the ominousness starts creeping in. It genuinely feels like they can ambushed at any time… and anywhere.

The fact that the main characters are FBI agents make the situation even more tense. If federal agents are fearful of the local cops despite having self-defence training and more legal power, it would be idiotic for ordinary citizens -especially noobs like me- to not feel fear.

It took a while to realise this: a police force’s headquarter is not just a mere building, it encompasses an entire specific region. Basically, the entire city is the lion’s den! Unless they leave town immediately, they are not safe everywhere they go!

Obviously, this is not the best thriller work out there. In fact, I have watched TV episodes and films far more terrifying than this. But, I make a big deal out of this episode because it is what the entire show could have been.

It could have lived up to its title by focusing on the psychological aspects of crime solving! It could have been a compelling TV series for the masses!

Instead, it chooses to mindlessly give what the masses want: surface-level visual horror and vindication of their dehumanising hatred against mental illness sufferers.

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I support monarchism because…

*puts on a mask*

Being a monarch is a hard-earned job!

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

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

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

The monarchs make me feel happy!

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

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

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

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

They are literally Gods!

Nepotism is everywhere!

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

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

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

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

*takes off the mask*

 

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The Swede’s rhetoric

I have made a few articles about Felix Kjellberg AKA Pewdiepie and one contains my arguments about how he is actually a reckless edgelord instead of an actual far-right ideologue.

I mention how he never makes excuses for the bigotry of some of his fans, how he was (and still is) slandered by the media and how he only invited one right-wing pundit just to review memes instead of letting him spill verbal diarrhea.

But, for some reasons, I forgot to talk about his own rhetoric.

Below, I am going to list the common talking points of contemporary western conservatives:

1. Equal rights are the same as special rights for women and the minorities

2. Women are happier when they are treated as the “lesser sex”.

3. The Southern Strategy never happened and American Democratic party is still the racist party.

4. Taking down Confederate statues equals erasure of history.

5. The Bell Curve is scientifically legitimate.

6. Any violence committed by Christians of European descent, including the Holocaust, the Trail of Tears, and the Crusades, were either justified, exaggerated or fictional.

7. All Muslims are sleeper cells.

8. The world is controlled by globalist Jewish elites.

9. Sexual violence is a trivial matter, unless they are committed by brown Muslims.

I am sure there are more recurring talking points than I mentioned above. But, those will do.

Disturbingly, I have seen how they often they are “discussed” by conservatives, especially by those who make Youtube videos,some of whom prefer to call themselves classical liberals.

But, from all online personalities who have been perceived as far-right, Pewdiepie is the only one who has never talked about those things.

Seriously, I have never heard him openly or discreetly espousing any of those lies. In fact, he barely touches politics and he never talks about history; his commentaries mostly revolve around the non-political aspects of Youtube culture.

The thing about our bigotry is it cannot be hidden completely, no matter how hard we try, no matter how hard we deny its existence. Even if we are not prone to Freudian slips, our bigotry will appear subtextually in our messages.

I have encountered so many people online who claim to not be bigoted… and yet, if you read their words between the lines, you will notice how hateful they are.

You cannot say you are not a racist when you believe the mere presence of non-whites is the evidence of white genocide. You cannot say you are not a homophobe or a transphobe when you believe LGBT rights discriminate against cisgender and heterosexual people.

But, with Felix, I haven’t seen any far-right subtexts from his online content.

His commentaries are indeed laced with subtexts… classical liberal subtexts; he is all about freeing humans from any excessive constraints, both in social and legal forms. He disapproved of the “policing” of any kind of activities, as long as they are not violent.

Basically, he is the complete opposite of those far-right individuals who are supposedly all about liberty while advocating for taking it away from those who are different from them.

He, the person who never calls himself a classical liberal, is way more classical liberal than the reactionaries who claim to be ones.

About the Christchurch mosque massacre…

Both his name and Candace Owens’s were implicated because they were mentioned by the shooter. The shooter said “subscribe to Pewdiepie”, a meme created by Felix himself, during the live streamed violence while she was cited as his number one ideological inspiration.

And both public figures reacted differently.

Felix was never cited as an inspiration; the shooter mentioned the name of the most popular Youtuber because he wanted more attention.

But, not only Felix immediately condemned the massacre, he pleaded to his fans to end the meme. After his many controversies, after years of being a reckless edgelord, he has realised he has a responsibility as a public figure for every single one of his public actions… and that includes his inherently harmless meme which he created as a tongue-in-cheek response to his rivalry with T-Series.

Owens, on other hand, responded immediately by laughing it off in her dismissive tweet, despite the fact that she is the shooter’s number one inspiration!

I don’t know about her now. But, at that time, it was obvious she did not have any sense of responsibility as a public figure, even though she was famous in the first place because of her politically charged and definitely-not-trivial messages.

She was not that different from Trump who took days to condemn the Charlottesville Neo-Nazi rally attended by his own supporters.

She was not that different from other right-wing public figures who constantly incite bigotry and yet refusing to acknowledge they might have inspired atrocities like the Christchurch massacre.

But, she and her peers are definitely different from Felix Kjellberg.

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My favourite sarcastic Youtubers

They are Boyoung AKA Bubbly, Chris Broad AKA Abroad in Japan, Felix Kjellberg AKA Pewdiepie, Joey Bizinger AKA The Anime Man, and Terry Song AKA TerryTV.

Unsurprisingly, their sarcasm often go over people’s heads and it leads to some viewers -especially the new ones- to take their words seriously. With Joey, he loves being sarcastic in his QnA video, consequentially frustrating even his long-time viewers who wish their questions are answered properly.

Also unsurprisingly, they also make Youtube commentaries from time to time, but not too often to the point where their channels become commentary ones. Consequentially, their contents have satirical inclination at times.

After watching them for years, I just realise another similarity between them that I didn’t notice before: I don’t find their annoying actions to be annoying.

Let me explain that extremely vague statement.

How they carry themselves on the platform is more or less similar to how their colleagues do it. When other Youtubers -including ones I am fans of- commit those certain actions, I am annoyed. But, when my favourite sarcastic Youtubers are the ones who commit them, I am strangely not.

Yeah, still vague.

Let me start straight away with the clickbaits.

Apart from Chris, all of those Youtubers I mentioned have embraced clickbaits in their video titles and thumbnails, albeit with varying level of intensity.

Boyoung and Terry prefer relatively subdued clickbaits (which suit their subdued sarcasm), Felix prefers to create bizarre ones (which suit his bizarre content) and Joey is the most shameless as he utilises nakedly clickbaity titles (which suit his snarky tendency); they remind me of the ones used by so-called “news” media outlets.

With Chris, I notice he loves re-using the same saccharine stock background music over and over again. But, it is not unlike the one used by many Youtubers.

It is more similar to the one used by American so-called “factual” TV programming; however, it still exude the same sugary, feel-good atmosphere. In his Journey Across Japan series, he used upbeat 80’s sounding theme song that -in my opinion- emits false optimism and pseudo-energy.

I may be wrong. But, I do notice that -unlike the ones of Felix and many other Youtubers- the online personas of Boyoung and Terry are immensely similar to their true personalities.

Their speaking intonations barely change and so do their body languages… apart from their eyes and mouths; as weird as it sounds, it’s the only way for me to determine whether they are in characters or not. Took me a long time to notice those details.

When Youtubers (and humans in general) do those things, I often perceive them as attention-seeking and fake individuals whose purpose in life is to look good instead of embracing their authentic selves, just for the sake of instant fame and fortune.

And yet, I am not annoyed when the Youtubers I am fans of commit those “sins”…. and the reason for that lies on the title.

Sarcasm is something in which everything that is being expressed is the opposite of their literal meanings. Not the most articulate elucidation. But, you get the idea.

Because of the constant stream of sarcasm, I am not predisposed to take those content creators too seriously, unless when morality is involved.

It also helps that they love to sprinkle a dose of self-deprecation here and there; I personally interpret it as their turndown to stand on high pedestals.

As a result, I don’t find their commentaries to be self-righteous and hypocritical whatsoever. The ones who think so are probably those who barely watch their videos.

Even though they don’t make much of them, I believers their commentaries are more superior than the ones spewed by most commentary Youtubers, who mostly appeal to emotions instead of reasons and don’t always practice what they preach.

Of course, I also have to admit I am being biased here. Not only I am a fan of those Youtubers, I am also a big fan of sarcasm; I regard it as one of the best tools to deal with those pesky humans and to express my anger. Way more satisfying than vandalising properties.

Oh, and I initially wanted to include Duncan Pain AKA PDR-San to the list.

Like them, he is also known for his sarcasm which does not always bode well to some people and and being self-deprecating.

But, he is also different from them because not only he has made even more commentaries (making his content more satirical in comparison), I don’t believe he is “guilty” of the “sins” I mentioned above. As I have missed many of his videos recently, I may be wrong.

I still mention him anyway because if he is indeed “guilty” of them, I would also not be annoyed.

And because I am a fan, of course.

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Different types of Hasan Minhaj haters

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

Now, where do I start?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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