Why do zero tolerance drug policy supporters cross the road?

*puts on the mask*

Why, to destroy the haters with logic, of course!

They want to cross the road, go through the alley of suffering addicts, pass the prison where its inhabitants will be dehumanisingly stigmatised after their release, arrive at the mountainous pile of overdose victims’ corpses and ‘collateral damages’, climb it and scream “ZERO TOLERANCE WORKS!” once they reach the peak!

Because, when it comes to substantiating the superiority of your approach, no method is more compelling than loudly and forcefully bragging about its success amidst the mounting evidence that speak otherwise.

*takes off the mask*


There is no joke here. But, those people sure love to see the lives of their fellow human beings as ones.   

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An artsy and inspiring dullness: my take on an event that I forgot existed

I am talking about the opening ceremony of the 2018 Asian Para Games. If you think I was being cold-hearted for temporarily forgetting about its existence, what do you think of the people who did know or remember about it and yet still think it is a waste of time and space?

Anyway, first thing first…

It was bloody boring! Starting from the parade of nations, which began not long after the countdown, the pacing entered a lethargic snail mode. Of course, one could easily blame it on the wheelchair-using athletes who inevitably made the marches slower. But, look closer and you would see they were not at fault here (and blaming them straight away is a bit ableist, isn’t it? You prick…)

The atmosphere of the parade of nations was… well… non-existent. The lighting was lackluster. The background music consisted mostly of foreign-language pops which, while I appreciate for their internationalism, contributed nothing but being background noises. The set for that particular segment was sparsely designed. The spectatorship itself suffered from low attendance which resulting in muted cheers. After the parade ended, the snail mode lingered till the end.

The transitions between segments were not smooth at all. Sometimes, they consisted of silent moments that lasted more than five seconds! I was already turned bored by the parades and the poor continuations surely increased the boredom!

Even how the segments were executed also felt sluggish. The one where the Indonesian president was entrusted to be an archer ended feel anti-climatic; the unhurried emotional build-up quickly turned into stalling. Waiting for the leader to prepare himself was unbearable. I am not sure if it was the lack of rehearsal or, again, the lack of immersive atmosphere.

I usually don’t mind the heavy use of pre-recorded footage just like what they did in the 2012 London Olympics, as long as they perfectly compliment the live presentation. But here, it felt like it was produced to compensate the lifelessness of the live presentation. As a result, its presence became a sign of laziness and I became annoyed as well.

The ceremony’s conclusion was also not satisfactory. I do love the concept of gathering all of the previous performers for one last act to sing a song together. But, after the song ended, why did they just stand there like confused ducks? Why did they have to wait for the Indonesian president to (slowly) exit the venue?

Okay, I have to admit it something: I did not watch it to the actual last seconds of the broadcast which means I don’t know how the ceremony actually ended; I had to stop watching due to the second-hand embarrassment. But, even after a brief viewing, one could tell the organisers did not think things through.

Actually, the entire event clearly showed unpreparedness on their behalf! It was either they were not given enough time to design and rehearse the performances and not given enough funding or they didn’t take their duty seriously because it was just an event for disabled people. Personally, I believe it is the former and I will get into that later. While the flaws were a bit too overwhelming, the strengths were also too exceptional to ignore.

Literally the first thing I noticed about the show was its artistry. I dare to say that, excluding the parade of nations, every segment was quite artistic. The show preferred to utilised restrained yet thematically-appropriate colour palettes for each segment instead of the rainbow-like yet unrefined and uninspiring ones. Even though I don’t find the background music that impressive, it still complimented the visual presentation, bringing a pleasing aesthetic into being. It is a contrast to the more entertaining yet tackier opening ceremony of the Asian Games.

Obviously, it is all about the creative directors. The Asian Games committee assigned Wishnutama, a corporate media executive, as the creative director. His specialty is producing entertainment for entertainment’s sake, artistry was not a concern of his. Unsurprisingly, the end result was a presentation which only strength was adoration from the masses.

The Asian Para Games committee, on the other hand, assigned Jay Subiyakto. Apart from having a degree in architecture, he also has experiences designing stages and directing music videos for pop musicians (he created the first Indonesian music video accepted by MTV Asia), organising photography exhibitions, creating concepts for commercials and being the artistic directors of three theatrical productions. While he seems to prioritise beauty over amusement, he is still concerned about the latter. The end result is an artistic yet relatively accessible presentation.

Earlier on, I blamed the show’s unbearable pacing on the inadequate rehearsals and/or funding, not on the organisers not taking their duty seriously. I am inclined to believe that because the ceremony’s message has actual thematic depth, not whitewashed sentimentality of the Asian Games one. Let me start with the officials.

I never thought the lot of them would be genuinely charming. But, that’s the case with the ones who appeared the ceremony. For one, they were not hesitant to sway their hips to the upbeat music when the Indonesian delegates entered the stadium. They refused to be stuck-up. And I haven’t talked about their speeches yet.

Raja Sapta Oktohari, the organising committee chairman, and Majid Rashed, the Asian Paralympic Committee president, made genuinely uplifting speeches. While there was pandering, it was more inhibited compared to the one at Asian Games ceremony (I still cannot forgive Erick Thohir for his whitewashing of Indonesia’s social issues). But, between the two figures, I have to give Rashed a bigger praise.

His speech pointed out one ugly fact: Asia is still far from perfect when it comes to empowerment of disabled people. The splash of reality is something that we must commend. But, I never expected that to make the entirety feels heartwarming. Maybe, just maybe, the combination of positivity and harsh realism culminates in a sense of hope; contrary to popular belief, absolute positivity would give the complete opposite effect, for the less gullible people at least. And Rashed’s speech was not even the best part of the show.

At one segment, they erected giant 3D letters that formed the word ‘DISABILITY’. My initial reaction was ‘WTF?’; that seemed like giving a giant middle finger to every disabled person by reminding them of their unwanted physical limitation. But, the subsequent so-called ‘archery’ by the president showed how I was angered too soon.

When he went down from his VIP seat, he was greeted by a wheelchair-using girl who bestowed him a wooden box which, when opened, uncovered illuminated 3D letters that formed the word ‘ABILITY’, omitting the ‘DIS’ altogether.

The thematic depth climaxed after the president (supposedly) shot his arrow to the giant screen. Immediately, the giant ‘DIS’ letters crumbled while the ‘ABILITY’ ones stood strong and turned illuminated as well, reiterating the wooden box’s message, accentuating it as the spirit of the event.

I don’t know about how disabled people feel about this. But, as a person whose so-called ‘disabilities’ only extend to two speech impediments (stuttering and cluttering), I find that sincerely inspirational! It reminds us how not letting our minds to be utterly controlled by our bodily imperfection would give us accomplishment comparable to or even higher than other people’s.

Of course, some of you may perceive it as an example of idealism triumphing over realism… and I have to disagree. For me, believing that disabled people cannot be as masterly as their so-called more physically ‘abled’ counterparts is not grounded in reality.

For one, when a person has a ‘disability’, it does not afflict his/her entire corporeal being! He/she still have other functioning body parts! A defect does make life harder. But, to say that it is enough to make a person entirely incapable is surely an exaggeration on your part, isn’t it?
Either that or, despite your lack of physical handicap, you still feel insecure about yourself and, just like many insecure individuals out there, you lash out at the socially more marginalised groups like the ‘disabled’ people by propagandising ableist make-believe.

I know, I know. It sounds like I am arguing with non-existent people. But, judging by the comments I have read online and the fact that most places in the world are still not catered to disabled people, you can’t argue that ableism is not a thing. This is why I have to salute the organisers for their seemingly sincere concern of humans who are different from them. At least, such empathy can still exist in Indonesia.

I use the word ‘seemingly’ because I am making an assumption here. Realistically, I don’t know if the organisers had their hearts in the right place. But, they sure have won my heart.

Also, I may change my mind about the message. I may end up finding it flatulent or sentimental. Of course, this possibility does not change the fact it is still better than the one of Asian Games opening ceremony… with its shameless whitewashing of reality.

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Old people must be the only leaders around

*puts on a mask*

Why? Why, because they are old, of course!

More often than not, leaders make bad decisions. Whether they are motivated by ignorance, greed or prejudice, their bad decisions affect everyone. Even the ones initially benefited by the decisions would get to taste the poisonous fruits eventually.

From all leaders that have existed, I only admire the ones who intentionally bring suffering onto others. Selfishness and sadism, the only things that indicate a person’s strength. The more selfish and sadistic, the stronger they are.

And I hate it when such strong people get the taste of their medicine. They do not deserve to suffer the suffering they inflict onto others! They are too strong to deserve any karmas!

This is why I prefer to vote for old people. Unlike young leaders, the old ones would not live long enough to suffer the consequences of their actions. Not to mention young people are more likely to be in tune with the contemporary world, making them less likely to be out-of-touch, selfish and sadistic, more likely to be weak!

Now, get off your butts and vote for dying old farts!

*takes off the mask*

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The easiest way to achieve a peaceful world…

*puts on a mask*

… is to only talk about the good and act like the bad don’t exist. Pretend that the world we live in has already possessed a flawless state of humanity.

Some of you may say, while (probably) beneficial in the short-term, this practice would definitely be harmful in the long run and we would probably worse off than we were before. Well, yeah. I already knew that.

Contrary to popular belief, ‘peace’ has nothing to do with sincerity. In fact, it is simply all about maintaining sugarcoated semblance that masks the truthfulness of our shared life. ‘Peace’ literally means free from the discomfort of confronting worldly harshness. Regrettably, some people denounce those definitions.

Instead of focusing on the present by thoroughly dousing it in sickly sweet syrup, they prefer to be engrossed in retardedly future-oriented goals which shrug off others’ desire to live restfully free from any disturbances of open and honest conversations about how we treat our fellow human beings and deny others’ right to experience feel-goodism concerning their non-existent ‘goodness’.

Basically, they are selfish assholes who are willing to sacrifice others’ feelings for the sake of fulfilling their childish make-believe!

Yes, make-believe! We live in the now. Therefore, our lives inherently revolve around it! The future, on the other hand, is something that only exists in our heads. Therefore, every person who spends even a sliver of their time on thinking about the future is delusional and the more time they spend doing so means the more hopelessly detached they are from the reality and even the best psychiatrists in history won’t be able to relieve them from their pitiful mental state!

Don’t do future-thinking, kids! If you really care about a bright future, whether for yourself or everyone else, you should avoid thinking about the future at all cost!

*takes off the mask*

 

 

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Confidence and arrogance, what are the differences?

*puts on a mask*

To define the two, let me tell my life stories:

As obligated by law, Indonesian students had to pass the government-issued national exams if they want to obtain middle and high school diplomas. Fail just one test and you would enjoy the privilege of graduating a year later. It did not matter if you pass the other government-issued tests or the ones made by your school (which were also compulsory). Fail one and you repeat.

Unsurprisingly, my classmates in middle and high school planned to cheat, encouraged by their teachers and possibly parents. I was academically poor and I was also one of those who chose the honest path. As a result, I was accused of being sanctimonious and arrogant. I successfully passed them without cheating. While the insults stopped, there were no praises for me.

Because of a glitch in the matrix, I was successfully accepted to one of the top universities in the country. To my disappointment, the seniors seemed insecure about their own intelligence. Instead of actually showcasing it, they chose to boast about how smart they were by irrelevantly invoking the high status of their destined alma mater. I complained about it to my family and they said those seniors were being confident, not arrogant. Eventually, I dropped out and the glitch was fixed.

Initially, I was opposed to such mentality because I thought it mistook confidence and arrogance for each other. Then, years later, I experienced something we call ‘growing up’.

I realised I was indeed arrogant for thinking I could pass the tests honestly. My mistake was using logical probability to determine my chance of succeeding. I should had listened to the populist consensus: no students, especially the low-achieving ones, will never able to pass the exams honestly!

I was also wrong to say those seniors were not confident. If one actually thinks about it, them seeing themselves as high and mighty despite the lack of evidences requires confidence! It is no longer a secret that our intelligence is not defined by the universities we attend. Yet, those seniors had their sense of self-worth easily spiked up by their mere attendance! There is something special about people who take pride in a figment of their imagination!

Arrogance is not defined by how unrealistic one’s expectation of oneself is; it is defined by the shared opinion of the collective one is a part of. One’s actual capability will always be irrelevant in the discourse. The collectively-held dogma is and will always be more important the truths!

Me passing the exams was a major faux pas because I successfully shattered the high standing of a collective conviction and therefore violating the delicate collective ego! Humans are social animals. It is literally our destiny to strip ourselves of individuality, it is literally our destiny to embrace the bandwagon fallacy in our everyday lives! I was arrogant to think I could escape such fate.

Arrogance is also defined by one’s acknowledgement of one’s own strengths. Even the most implicit acknowledgement is of poor taste. It strongly insinuates how one sees oneself as higher than the rest of humanity! It is literally a misguided form of elitism!

Confidence is not about saluting one’s existing strengths; it is all about doing so for the ones that never exist! Besides being arrogant, celebration of the tangibles is also redundant; why would anyone make a big deal out of things we have been surrounded by throughout our entire lives?

The celebration of the imaginary, on the other hand, is goddamn impressive! It cannot be fulfilled without the presence of our own delusions and delusions are hard to obtain! Just imagine the efforts we need in order to sincerely believe things that contradict reality! Reach that state and we are literally on a mental level unachievable by most of mankind! So, my desire to destroy my seniors’ self-worth was mean-spirited.

So, please! Don’t mix up arrogance and confidence with each other! You will cause a lot of harm by doing so!

*takes off the mask*

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Cherishing chronicles through unwonted means

I have made an essay defending the Let’s Play format on Youtube by comparing it with sports spectatorship. I love watching Let’s Play because it is fun, the same reason why people love watching sports. But, I always find the answer unsatisfying.

While the majority of such videos are purely entertainment, it is not always so. Some Let’s Play Youtubers, including the most popular ones, are willing to play story-driven video games. Horror games like Ib and Witch’s House. Emotional ones like A Beginner’s Guide and To The Moon. Ones that are both horror and emotional like The Crooked Man.

There is something satisfying about witnessing Youtubers getting unnerved by the disturbing plots and imagery, getting frustrated by the frustrating narrative, laughing at the jokes, trying to hold back tears due to the emotional heaviness. I love seeing them getting personally affected (and deeply traumatised) by the storytelling.

Maybe that’s why I love Let’s Play videos. The storytelling.

Maybe that’s why some of my favourite Youtube channels are all about pop culture exegeses.

I am not surprised some of them are about cinema. Even though I have not watched many of those Hollywood classics (and that makes me uncultured, according to Hollywood film snobs), I have watched enough films to have a long list of cinematic favourites. Not to mention cinema studies classes were some of the best and probably most worthy features of my university life.

I did grow up with certain mangas and animes like Ninja Hattori, Detective Conan, Kobo-chan, Kariage-kun and Doraemon. But, in Indonesia, they were also staples of bookstores’ comic sections and Sunday morning broadcasting; Doraemon has become an integral part of our cultural psyche. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t know or care about their existence.

There are also animes other than the aforementioned ones that I love, like Anohana, Spirited Away and Your Name. But, I haven’t watched other works of Studio Ghibli and Makoto Shinkai. I haven’t watched enough animes and read enough mangas to make a long list of personal favourites. Even then, me subscribing to anime Youtubers is less bizarre compared to me doing so to game analyses ones.

I have played videos games on extremely rare occasions. But, so far, the only video game I have been fully immersed in is Pokemon Ruby. I have not played any games from the Earthbound, Legend of Zelda, Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hills series. I have never played any of the RPG games my favourite Youtubers played.

From all game analyses Youtubers, Matpat is undoubtedly one of the most famous and also one of the most derided. Some of his so-called ‘theories’ are plagued with implausibility and infantile make-believe. But, if you pay more attention, you would notice how he plays a character in many of his videos.

The character seems to be a parody of over-zealous fans who believe in the figmental soundness of their fan ‘theories’. Admittedly, because Matpat has a very trained (and ungodly plastic) accent due to his musical theatre background, it is often difficult to distinguish him from the real person.

Here’s a tip: pay attention to his intonation and choice of words. If his voice sounds more dramatic than usual, if he acts like his theories are the most flawless, then he is in character. Heck, even in this video, he stated how he himself does not believe in every single ‘theories’ he has made!

(Come on, people! Youtubers play characters in their videos! It is not even a secret anymore! Unless your brain is less functional than one of a dead chicken, you can clearly see how they ‘possess multiple personalities’! But, what can I do? Idiots only see what idiots want to see.)

That Matpat persona actually hits close to home. I love to make my own fan theories. I love to investigate subtext and symbolism. I love making infantile make-believe! At one point, I dwelled in determining the meanings behind The Crooked Man. I discussed it with some of my friends and, because I want more data to develop my ‘theories’, I watched not one, but four different Youtubers playing the game; mind you this game feels long due to its unhurried pacing.

My friend’s criticism of my ‘theories’ didn’t bother me at all. As much as I was (and still am) pleased with them, I formulated them because it was fun! There is something gratifying about dissecting a chronicle clouded with grey and seemingly impenetrable mist. This is one reason why I am not bothered by how popular and influential Matpat is. While he is my go-to Youtuber for fan theories, I prefer another channel if I want more scholarly routes to and social commentaries related to video games.

I love Extra Credit because not only they offer handy game development advices, they also showcase us paradigms which I can safely say many gamers don’t care about. They believe the essences of gaming also includes business, aesthetics, politics, ethics and the human psyche. They believe giving those aspects equal amount of attention will enhance our appreciation of video games. I also share the same outlook regarding cinema and Youtube culture.

I hate the thinking which deems entertainment as a purely fun entity. Not only it is intellectually unsatisfactory, it is also extremely dishonest. I think the word escapism misleads us to believe entertainment belongs to a realm completely out of human reach. It does not. In case you didn’t know, entertainment is created by living human beings! It is and will always be affected by the world we live in!

Whether consciously or not, creators channel their worldviews to their creations. The most staunch ideologues among them may intentionally turn their works into propaganda; my blogs are good examples. The less committed or the more sophisticated among them will be subtle about it; only after intense scrutiny we will start to discern the subtext.

The merit of works of entertainment is also dependent on the producers; do they thrive to balance profit and quality or are they greedy capitalist pigs? There is no doubt the latter encourage us to believe wealth is worth the murder of artistic integrity. If the producers are also staunch ideologues, the creators can kiss their freedom of thought goodbye and start kissing orifices for a living!

Even in the most socially liberal countries, strict socio-cultural norms and legally-mandated censorship prevail. Granted that only the latter has lawful authority to ban, the former may have the power to socially outcast any works and creators that dare to be deviant. Conformity is God. Heresy is literally more sinful than murder!

Subconsciously, we often treat fictional characters as truthful representations of real life humans. It should not be that way. But, reality begs the differ. Therefore, mindfulness is crucial in how we shape narratives, especially when it comes to portraying marginalised groups. Ignore that and we will reinforce the presence of already-existing social illnesses!

Yes, consumers’ gullibility is also an issue here and we should tackle it as well. But, with that knowledge in their minds, it is revolting how some creators insist how dehumanising portrayal of their fellow human beings is an important part of freedom of speech. They carelessly disregard their actions’ impacts on the real world!

I don’t think censorship will benefit us in this case. But, the fact that we use freedom to validate the ugliness shows how ugly our inner selves can be. If they are revealed in physical manifestations, I am sure they would be ugly enough to make Satan cries tears of blood.

Enough with the poorly-transitioned tangents. Trust me. The content of Extra Credit is more wholesome than the self-praising paragraphs I just typed. Now, off to the next Youtuber!

Besides having fun with fan ‘theories’ and pretending to be a pop culture savant, I also love Youtubers for their personality-driven approaches to arts and entertainment. The Anime Man is one of my favourites.

The punily-named content creator exhibits traits that I also possess. First and foremost, he is a self-described sarcastic cunt who has an alter ego that satirises weeabos and anime fans whose opinions have less worth than decaying roadkills. I am also a sarcastic cunt who has made essays so satirical and mean-spirited, even I feel concerned about my own mental state.

Second, he is an outspoken nonconformist. He will candidly express objection to popular opinions, risking massive backlashes from anime zealots, some of whom may be a part of his own fan base. Even though I have yet to receive equally harsh backlashes in my personal life, I am often subjected to remarks with hints of subdued spitefulness; living in a country where honesty is regarded as a sin means one runs into genteel snakes everywhere one goes.

Third, because of the thing I just mentioned, he is often misidentified either as an anime elitist and an anime casual. Anime casuals call him an elitist for having the guts to crucify certain mainstream animes while elitists call him a casual for still loving some of them. Personally, I have been called pompous for not loving everything mainstream and unsophisticated for still loving pop culture. Too snobby for uncultured swines and too much of a swine for snobs.

Lastly, as far as I concern, he never cites scholarly sources in his analyses and has no knowledge of relevant technical concepts, solely relying on reason and limited information he has about certain works and artists. I am also one and the same concerning Youtubers, films and the entire Harry Potter franchise. As a result, our dissection feel sparse at times (even though his is more logical, more coherently conveyed and laced with funnier jokes).

But, that does not matter. None of us are interested in becoming scholars (just pretend that my conjecture about him is accurate). All we want to do is to have fun, to express our frustrations about certain creations and their creators, to indulge our childlike and playful passions for them. We do what we do because it feels personal for us.

This is why I love storytelling in general: it feels personal.

For one (and it should be predictable to you), storytelling expands my horizons. Fictions are a constant reminder about how the universe we live in stretches beyond its fragile, bleak and nihilistic physicality. They, even when poorly-conceived, encourage me to push the limits of my imagination. It may be a surprise to some. But, such benefit can also be gained from creative non-fictions.

They foster ingenuity in how we determine the angles and the delivery of the stories. As they are inherently neither journalistic nor academic, playfulness is allowed. Fine exposition can make relatively dull and mundane stories look compelling. It makes us care about lives other than our own.

Because of my preferences for arts and entertainment over human interactions, I am often accused of being self-centered and anti-social. But, the older I get, the more I feel sorry for every pitiful individual who make such accusation.

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Never mind they abuse the term anti-social, which is what we use to describe sociopaths. They also dishonestly equate the quantity of human interactions with how much we care about our fellow human beings. The more we chatter, the stronger our sense of humanity is. Of course, every person whose brain is no bigger than an ant’s can easily fall for such idiocy.

Non-fiction storytelling constantly reminds me that I am not alone. It reminds me how I am not the only one who experience what I experience. It reminds me how I am far from the most authentic human. It makes me a humbler person. I never thought non-fictions would spur personal growth in me.

Of course, I have to talk about the sense of humanity… which I mentioned earlier and almost forgot about it.

Besides imagination, it is one benefit I acquire from both fictional and non-fictional storytelling. They acquaint myself with real life inhumanity and they make me care about them, in spite of their superficial depictions. As I have learned to not take any portrayals for granted, there are times when I can receive information critically. Still have lots to learn, though.

To make it weirder, certain stories give me strong hope about humanity, in spite of their pessimism. Maybe my hopefulness is cultivated by how they reassure me that humanity still exists. I mean, if it doesn’t, why would there be storytellers who revile the said inhumanity?

Before I conclude it all up, I should mention one benefit of storytelling that I have mentioned to other people: storytelling is a mirror. Whether we like it or not, our reactions to stories, including fictional ones, are reflections of our true nature. How we react to anything, really.

I feel like Captain Obvious here. But, some people refuse to believe it; instead, they accuse me of overthinking and complacency. Admittedly, I am often guilty of both. But, ask yourself this: if our reactions to works of fiction are not representative of our true selves, then where do they come from? They are our reactions, not someone else’s. They exist because you exist!

My prior and subsequent interactions with those denialist cretins were always contaminated with the ghastliness I condemned them for.

I actually have quite a few examples… and I will list them one by one, from the most trivial case to the most worrying. Here we go:

If you, a self-proclaimed horror fan, think a horror game or film is not scary without jump scares and scary visuals, then you have no idea what fear really is and you know nothing about the genre you supposedly love!

If you think calmness makes a dull storytelling, then you never care about the story in the first place. All you care about are imaginary actions and loud noises to make up for your dull, uninspiring personality. Heck, I am sure you make up for it by being obnoxious in your daily life!

If you think Newt Scamander is a boring male lead and negatively compare him to other male characters who fulfill outdated expectations of masculinity, then you are one of those reactionaries who believe upholding shallow, arbitrary and ever-changing gender roles is everybody’s moral duty!

If you are easily touched by a work that embodies self-righteousness and extremely on the nose ‘positivity’, then you are not ‘woke’. You are just as skin-deep as the next person. But, at least, you possess something that he/she doesn’t: a towering erection of self-admiration!

If you are able to sympathise with a character meant to mock ‘your kind’ and anything you stand for, then you are a nuance-hating dumbfuck who view human identities through black and white lenses. Your footing is either shaky or non-existent altogether. In many cases, it is surely the latter!

If you condemn Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix for allegedly teaching kids to disrespect authorities and dishonestly snubbing its scathing commentaries about the corrupt political establishment, then you probably have licked more boots than every child in the world has licked lollipops!

If you believe non-stereotypical depictions of the ‘others’ is too PC, then you are a bigot. Contradicting your professedly anti-PC stance, you are offended by their depictions as human beings. From where you are standing, they are anything but. The world is a better if everyone adheres to your bigotry!

Either that or your brain is not strong enough to sustain itself without a perpetual stream of offensiveness!

With all of those intimate and pretentious musing, it should not be a surprised I love those Youtubers.

Yes, in case you forgot, this essay began with their ‘discourse’.

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The unwholesomeness of ‘goodness’

Everyone who has watched The Incredibles (and pay attention to its dialogues) know one thing about the film: it denounces the elitism of superheroism.

Well, the villain does that. In the film, every single superhero character was born with their power. It us undeniable that elitism based on something biologically innate is unfair. Those superheroes obtain an unjustly earned special status. They are almost treated as Gods. The villain has a point.

Of course, you may argue the superheroes have actual contributions to the societies they live in. Without them, who is going to protect the citizens from the bad guys? Who is going to bring the collective sense of security?

Well, The Incredibles 2 answers the question: the ‘ordinary’ citizens should be the ones who have help themselves!

The villain equates superheroes-worshipping with consumerism. Superheroes are extremely handy products the ordinary citizens become too dependent on and the dependency discourages them from doing anything to improve the societies they live in.

Improve the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies, make use of the armed forces for domestic purposes (instead of constantly sending them overseas), enquire into why the crimes exist in the first place. The ordinary citizens should have done those. But, as those require self-introspection and acknowledgement of unflattering truths, they prefer to do the easy thing: sticking to the status quo. Once again, the villain has a point… and one of the good guys is naive.

As heroes-worshipping is liken to consumerism, heroism in the sequel does not parallel to heroism in real life. For me, it is more of a commentary about our misguided approach regarding making the world a better place; it reminds me how some people still think social media can bridge the gaps between different human beings, still unaware the problem lies on humans’ sectarian tendencies, not on technological limitation.

In the first film, on the other hand, heroism is liken to undeserved elitism. That has a direct parallel in real life… which can be extremely contentious to point out, even in very liberal societies. I am thinking about soldiers.

I am proud to say I was never guilty of the ‘all-soldiers-are-heroes’ mentality. Not only it feels like worshipping conceitedly unprogressive institutions, it also does not make sense. Somehow, simply joining a formal and rigidly-structured collective instantaneously make you worthy of any honourable titles associated with it. Your labels determine your worth.

Yeah, no.

Many soldiers in some parts of the world are conscripts; in countries without alternative services, the citizens only have two options: enlistment or jail. Soldiers have the right to benefits which are reserved exclusively for them; poverty is enough to motivate people to enlist. It is also no secret that soldiers have committed countless human rights violations; it is either they become desensitised by violence or they were already suffering from bloodlust in the first place. Not to mention that even in relatively small countries, soldiers are huge collectives of distinct individuals. Believing heroism exists in every single one of them betrays facts and reason.

Of course, as it is the case with unreasonable creatures, those military worshippers also suffer from cognitive dissonances. My mom is a big admirer of the military; she was a military brat who was born merely a few years after Indonesia’s independence, who was a teen when the Indonesian-Malaysia Konfrontasi occurred, who thinks Indonesia was absolutely way better under the authoritarian rule of General Soeharto, who thinks soldiers only care about doing service for their countries.

She also wants me to enlist for the financial benefits, manliness and social status. No explanation needed for the first two. With the third, it is both baffling and frustrating. Baffling because she somehow thinks that I, her disappointingly rebellious and underachieving son, will easily climb up the ranks. Frustrating because it is a reflection of her irrationality and classist tendency. Not once she expresses a desire for me to be a patriot; she only cares about the so-called perks of military life. In the US, however, there is a cognitive dissonance worse than this one.

Being loud and obnoxious about their so-called love of soldiers also means ridiculing PTSD-suffering and/or homeless veterans, supporting budget cut for VA, dodging conscription during the Vietnam War era and worshipping those dodgers. When they say ‘support the troops’, they refer to the dead ones… and any pro-military ‘patriots’ who never enlisted and will never have the desire to.

The older I get, the more I realise how ‘goodness’ and any can related concepts damaging; in many cases, ‘goodness’ is meaningless. I believe it is rooted in our debilitating upbringing. At least, that’s the case if we use my anecdote.

Since I was young, I have been bombarded with guilt-tripping rhetorics about the greatness of virtue and the sin of not falling for those guilt-tripping rhetorics. That’s one of the many ideals I was indoctrinated to. For many years, I fell for it. The indoctrination climaxed when I became an internet addict. Not long after I reached adulthood, I started to realise how questionable this mindset is.

Instead of encouraging genuine altruism and social consciousness, it champions self-righteousness, reward-seeking open-handedness, the unfounded belief that artistic preferences and our level of ‘wokeness’ are inherently correlated and the mindlessness that makes us exploitable enough to fall for meaningless articulation. It also puts off cynical humans from seeing the beauty of benevolence and earthly cognisance; eventually, their cynicism intensifies, not subsides.

To exacerbate the nauseous feeling even more, those loud and self-praising zombies have the gut to direct the heroic light on themselves! Unfortunately unsurprisingly, they see themselves as the enlightenment the unkind world needs and does not deserve. They are literally one of those humans who unknowingly make living parodies out of themselves! Instead of invigorating the world they supposedly love, they only give it more burdens to bear!

This is why I love entertainment where morality is depicted a grey entity. This is why I have a strong inclination to admire aloof, crass, cynical and/or sarcastic public figures.

It is lovely when popular entertainment subtly encourages the audience to rethink their stances regarding good and evil, when it cunningly reminds us of our own ill-defined reality. The two The Incredibles films are great examples.

Those unpleasant individuals may not be unpleasant as we think they are; even though it is not always the case, we may be able to identify courtesy, down-to-earth intellect or even heartfelt virtue once they uncover their true colours… or once we actually pay attention. Felix Kjellberg, the most subscribed Youtuber and the media’s favourite Youtube punchbag, is probably one of the best examples.

So, to sum everything up: characters, NOT labels, should be the basis of our judgement of fellow human beings! Of course, like everything in life, it is easier said than done. But, I have some inadequate, anecdotal and scientifically unproven tips that may or may not improve your perceptiveness.

When a film you just watched seems to have extremely kind protagonists and a perfectly happy ending, be suspicious. Re-watch it, pay attention to the characters, dialogues, settings and plot.

Once you notice the small details, you will realise how our beloved main characters are shrouded in unexpressed sinfulness, the ending only serve them and the villains may not as bad as they seem. This can be a result of deep OR shallow thinking on the filmmakers’ behalf. The subtext betrays the film’s true nature.

Yes, a scripted film involves fictional characters. But, that can prepare you to be more observant and critical when assessing the facade of your surroundings. Obviously, using real humans as our ‘subjects’ is a lot better.

When a public figure attracts your attention, try not to let his/her public image clouds your judgement. Instead, try to enquire about him/her yourself.

If he/she is known for his/her obnoxious and unsavoury personality, watch and listen to his/her interviews; if he/she acts surprisingly nice and polite, it is possible you just encounter his/her real personality.

If he/she is known for being open-handed and moral, investigate him/her; research about the charity he/she has supposedly accomplished, find out if any of his/her claims have factual and scientific validity, break down the soundness of his/her philosophies and find out if he/she practices what he/she preaches. More of than not, such public figure habours unmistakable yet ignored ungodly qualities.

While both individuals intentionally manufacture their public images, they are driven by different objectives. One believes in the ‘bad-publicity-is-good-publicity’ mantra while the other wants to build a strong, highly-devoted following and a pristine, almost saint-like persona, disfiguring the wholesomeness of ‘goodness’.

Guess which individual is more menacing.

I am such a hopeful person, am I not?

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The unworthy finale of Harry Potter

No, neither Fantastic Beasts nor The Cursed Child are HP stories. One is a spin-off and the other is a Rowling-approved fan fiction. The Deathly Hallows (TDH) is and will always be the last HP story (not counting that one short and untitled prequel).

Just like with Half-Blood Prince, I also believe that the problem with The Deathly Hallows is it being a poorly-executed great idea! In this story, most of the characters endure their greatest adversity to date. Throughout their journey, they sacrifice their physical and emotional well-being and they have lost loved ones to Grim Reaper’s embrace. But, the eventual defeat of evil is worth the suffering. The ending should be overwhelming by stirring you with a myriad of emotions all at once. Ideally, we should feel what the characters feel. Ideally.

Instead, I feel nothing but disappointment. One cause for this is unfortunately not preventable.

The thing about Harry Potter series is each story’s plotline, excluding the prologue in Philosopher’s Stone and the epilogue in TDH, always occur within one calendar year. Almost every problem is solved within each fixed time period! Rowling seems to let her imagination limited by her characters’ strictly-scheduled school calendars, despite TDH being set mostly outside Hogwarts. That particular flaw is a sizeable contribution to the series’ unbelievability; counter-intuitively, the magical elements are more believable in comparison. As a result, the concluding work feels too rushed.

Someone (I forgot who) told me it would be better if TDH was divided to three novels… and I agree with him/her.

Prior to TDH, despite having moles working in the government, Voldemort and his followers were seen as criminals by the authorities. But, even then, they were already powerful enough to instill fear in the magical world, constantly breaking the collective morale; they were akin to real life terrorists. Now, imagine them taking over the ministry of magic. Oh, the power they would get. That’s what happen in the last installment.

Yes, they only took over one magical government. But, that was enough to give them dominance they had never had before! They had the legal legitimacy to reign a country’s entire magical community; they could easily instill their extremist ideology to its youths and legally justify their acts of violence and prejudice, both to the Muggles and their fellow magical beings!

And TDH asserts how such regime can be defeated within one school year.

I don’t know any totalitarian regimes that were toppled within such a short period of time. The Khmer Rouge were in power for four years. Afghanistan was entirely governed by the Taliban for five years. Nazi Germany lasted for twelve years. Fascist Italy lasted eight years longer. USSR lasted for sixty-nine years. And those are just the most notable examples! I haven’t mentioned the others who are not less notable globally and the ones that still prevail.

I would love it if the one-year-one-book rule is ditched at this point and Voldemort’s regime lasted for ten years! But, HP is an escapist entertainment; I would compromise by perpetuating the rule and I would agree that a decade can be a bit too long. But, the fact that our heroes’ last and most consequential adventure is only twelve months long and only covered in one book (which is not even the longest HP novel) is too farcical for me to swallow.

This is why I agree with my friend’s/acquaintance’s three-book proposal. Taking three years to defeat a regime is more believable than doing so in one! As much as I love submerging myself in escapism, my tolerance for shameless improbability is not infinite. No, being a fantasy work is not an excuse.

Oh, and this hastiness sabotages HP’s emotional immersion.

Throughout the series, the emotions refuse to take back seats; they proudly assert themselves as major performers. And yet, the ones in TDH don’t have any personal impacts on me as a fan. Despite the strong emotional content, there is a barrier that prevents me from relating to the earthly characters… and I blame it on the epilogue.

The epilogue should be the emotional closure. Rowling could have detailed about the characters’ post-Voldemort life; they would definitely have a problem returning to normal life, suffer from PTSD, mourn the dead, be disheartened by the many families torn apart and jubilantly rejoice Voldemort eternal defeat. For fans, the end of the series is the end of an epic they have been emotionally invested in; the ending should feel like the last farewell to our loved ones. Weariness, sorrow, joy and nostalgia. All distinct emotions which we could have felt simultaneously.

But, instead of treating it as a crucial integrant, Rowling saw it merely as tacky memorabilia sold at the exit of a tourist trap.

One chapter! Never mind that she didn’t divulge the entire Post-Deathly Hallows circumstances of the fictional universe. She didn’t even bother to include any emotions in it. Well, she did include one: happiness. A hollow and insincere happiness. There is nothing about the segment that signifies the existence of harsh reality. It disregards all of the hardships our characters have endured this whole time. It is one of those sentimentally pathetic happy endings.

I believe that you can fix the epilogue without altering the existing last chapter. All you have to do is to add more preceding ones. Personally, I want the entire segment to contain ten in total, each representing a different individual period. I want them to unveil how our characters are gradually leaving their turbulent past behind. If Rowling uses the multi-chapters formula to conclude the epic narrative, I can ensure the happiness would possess sincere wholeheartedness and actual artistic merit.

Once again, I don’t know how to end an article. So, let me write an analogy.

I loved to play Pokemon Ruby. It was one of the very games I had ever fully been immersed in. It was the only game I ever played on Game Boy SP. I would spend many hours daily on it.

I often viewed catching and training Pokemons as my life goals. I felt triumphant every time I fulfilled them, felt like a failure every time I didn’t. I took the game very personally. It is obvious how playing it was more than just escapism for me.

Then, one day, two certain individuals decided to help after seeing my constant struggles. When I said ‘help’, I meant playing the game without my knowledge, handed it back to me AFTER the defeat of all Gym Leaders and Team Magma and expected me to be wonderfully grateful!

Well, wonderfully furious I was! Somehow, they thought I would be happy by being denied the satisfaction of doing most of the work! Maybe they didn’t realise that I was the player, NOT the spectator! Or maybe they are the kind of people who can get satisfaction from passing exams through cheating. Well, knowing my fellow Indonesians, that is very likely the case.

Yes, it is a rather off analogy. Pokemon Ruby is interactive and TDH (the one I have in mind) is literary. One is mostly a fun, lighthearted adventure and one heavily involves evil and death. Two different storytelling mechanism, two different emotional weights. But, there are undeniable similarities between them.

Both cases denied me to experience emotional sensations. I was denied the triumphant feeling for successfully battling the final bosses. Me and my fellow Potheads were denied the opportunity to experience the amalgamation of contrasting emotions for accompanying our beloved characters throughout their entire odyssey.

Obviously, this is not a form of psychological abuse. Our lives are not and will never be haunted by traumas because of it. But, it is still infuriating to come up against. Not only that, considering how we only had ONE chance to experience the pleasure, the denial is a fucking dick move! Admittedly, this sounds a bit too whiny. For some time, I considered the possibility that I complained a bit too much.

Then, I had the realisation: both cases are rooted in intellectual shallowness. In my world, that’s not and should never be tolerated.

The two people who ‘helped’ my Pokemon gameplay seemed content with the idea of ‘achievements’ handed to them on silver platters. The close-mindedness came into play when they never bother to ask if I wanted their so-called ‘help’. They assumed their pitiful mindset was shared by every single grateful human being in existence and refusing such ‘help’ is a sign of ungratefulness. I still regularly see one of the ‘helpers’ to this day and, despite his/her age and university education, she/he is still an intellectual simpleton. Profundity is not his/her strongest suit.

For some reasons, Rowling implemented the one-year-one-book rule all the way through. She had broken a few rules before and one of them she established herself. As a result, Harry Potter became a much more dynamic series.

The Order of Phoenix is packed with conspicuous political critique, inevitably elevating the series’ already-loaded thematics; for a supposedly escapist novel, it loves to remind the readers of their own harsh reality. Even TDH managed to break one rule: unlike its predecessors, it is set mostly outside Hogwarts; of course, because the school is utilised as the climax’s backdrop, its significance is still potent. With the dynamism brought by the deviance, why stop there?

Rowling failed to realise that by being clingy to the one-year rule, she unwittingly increased the unbelievability and churned out impotency. She failed to comprehend that, if you want the story to skillfully steer forward, alteration is a necessity. It is regrettable how she, an experienced writer and an educated person overall, tethers her own creative insight.

Either that or she was pressured to write ONLY seven HP books by her publisher. If that is the case, then it is equally unfortunate. While niche works are prone to pretension and self-righteousness, blockbuster ones are prone to the strong, heavy-handed desire to fill up the piggy banks.

I still don’t know why this massive pile of disappointment exists in the first place. I keep trying to find the rationales and I always end up rambling. Perhaps, I will never obtain any definite and satisfactory answers. Among fans, I also wonder if I am a minority regarding this.

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How to win the Nobel Peace Prize

*puts on a mask*

It is simple: all you have to do is to advocate how peace is the best solution for our earthly problems. Just be a famous pacifist!

But, if you are a westerner, there is another path to this accolade: be a war-monger!

Not just any war-monger, but one who justifies his/her violent actions and beliefs in the name of defeating barbarians! When I meant by barbarians, I meant every non-westerner who refuses to suck westerners’ dicks.

Peace is one of the organic values of the western civilisation. I know because the propaganda tells me so; as we all know, indoctrination is always truthful and only brainwashed imbeciles think otherwise. Therefore, every person who defies the west is a violent, peace-hating barbarian and every true-blue westerner must support the violent destruction of those monsters in order to uphold peace!

The innocent casualt….. I meant, the collateral damages are actually a good thing. The more we kill every single individual who shares the identities of those monsters, the better. It advances our journey towards peace even further. It is their fault for being born associated with those barbarians! It is a common knowledge that we can choose which vaginas we are born from.

*takes off the mask*

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Primer: when a film feels close to home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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