Your Name (and the true human bonding)

Just another of my very late film ‘review’.

Warning: while I won’t give details about the plot, this essay may still be a spoiler for you.

I don’t know how I ended up watching one of Makoto Shinkai’s works. I am not an avid fan of Japanese animation; most of the ones I have watched, like Doraemon and Ninja Hattori, were unavoidable in the first place as they were staples of Indonesia’s Sunday morning broadcast.

In fact, I don’t remember how I first heard about Your Name. Maybe it was the film poster in a cinema near my house and I was intrigued by its simplistic title and visually-conveyed ethereality. Maybe I was introduced to it by The Anime Man, whom I watch solely for his sarcasm and his ways of breaking down storytelling. Either way, it lingered in my mind for some time before I decided to watch it… and I am glad I did!

Visually, it is a very pretty animation! The animators made sure that even the backdrops are being held to a high aesthetic standard. But then, this is my first Makoto Shinkai’s work; I don’t know if this is a trademark of his. The beauty, while deeply appreciated, is not unforeseeable. The poster easily gave it away.

The story’s complexity, on the other hand, was surprising to me. The fairly intricate metaphysicas is not something one expects from one of the most highest-grossing traditionally-animated films, Japanese animated films and non-Anglophone films of all time. Maybe it’s like Life of Pi all over again, where the audience was too fixated on the visuals and ignoring the subject matters altogether.

Or maybe, they are smitten by how the film conveys emotions to the point where they become personally affected themselves. At least, that’s the case with me.

Because of it, I became an emotional wreck for days; one of the other times I fell into such bad shape was the first time I watched Jacksepticeye’s A Beginner’s Guide playthrough. I have had my share of emotional arts and entertainment works and yet not even the masterly creations of the likes of Bergman and Tarkovsky trigger a surge of neurochemicals in me.

One may go to a conclusion that Makoto Shinkai is an EQ genius who experience feelings like no other! Bergman, Tarkovsky and the rest of mankind should learn from him if they want to become more emotionally-intelligent human beings!

Obviously, what I just said was stupid. He may possess a high EQ. But, I doubt his is the highest ever. One thing I am certain about is his masterfully immersive storytelling, seamlessly taking us the characters’ extramundane world. But still, that explanation feels unsatisfactory for me.

For me (and presumably some people), the answer is a lot simpler. While immersiveness is indeed a factor for the sense of intimacy, it is not the be-all and end-all. Ultimately, the characters must be relatable to you.

Your Name chronicles the lives of two teenagers living in two different places and time who switch bodies. While the relationship was initially hostile, they end up seeing each other as their other halves whom they cannot imagine live without. Their bond is so strong, they still possess a sense of inexplicable longing after losing any pertinent memories. Years later, when they finally meet face-to-face, they quickly form a bond without remembering each other’s names. That facet of the characters’ life is very relatable to me.

Unless you – a nasty person that only exist in my head – are dumb enough to take the story literally and are accusing me of living a fantasy life or you are unaware of the age we are living in, there is a (small) chance you will understand why the film is personal to me: the internet.

Since I became active on Facebook, I started to have lots deep interactions with my fellow human beings. In fact, I met my first real best friends on the site! I can interact with them for hours and hours and I will never get bored by the wonderfully genuine human connections!

To make it even more delightful, almost all of my interactions involve internet users whose homelands are distinct from mine. I can form bonds with human beings in spite of their distinct environments, in spite of the terrestrially great distances, in spite of them living in very different time zones!

Of course, the reactionaries will fiercely disagree with me. They believe social interactions inherently require corporeal presence. For them, the lack of corporeal presence instantly invalidates every single reciprocity that has occured, no matter how genuine they are. Any person who possesses an open-mind will easily recognise how retarded such mentality is.

Let’s dissect the term ‘social interaction’. ‘Social’ means anything related to ‘society’, it is derived from the Latin word ‘socius’ which means ‘allied’ (I think). ‘Interaction’ is derived from ‘inter’ and ‘action’; basically, it is an action that directly influences every party involved.

If one lives in a mostly analogue world, one could be forgiven for still retaining such mentality. Of course, that world has become the past! Our lives have been heavily influenced by digitalisation. The gravity of social media today is comparable to the gravity of sexual repression in Indonesia.

Surely, after witnessing one of the great alteration of human foundations, the long-established meanings of ‘social’, society’, ‘interaction’ and ‘friends’ have inevitably become obsolete. So, sooner or later, we have to rethink the way we decipher them. For me, it sounds more reasonable than acting like grumpy, soon-to-die dinosaurs who hate how prejudice is no longer cool.

No, I am not dismissing the importance of offline relationships. Humans (still) live in an earthly realm. I (grudgingly) acknowledge that humanity cannot exist without physical contacts. Even if we don’t care about having friends and partners, we still need to buy groceries, to study, to work. Internet hermits like me need to go offline from time to time if we want to sustain ourselves.

But, traditionalists also have to acknowledge the strengths of online interaction. The cyber space gives us the freedom to be free from intrusiveness and toxicity, eases our efforts to search for like-minded individuals and, in spite of our current circumstances, still provides us the platform to meet anyone, no matter what their upbringings are and no matter where they live! Like it or not, ‘traditional’ interactions lack any of those advantages!

Now, about the quality of relationships: how does one determine it? Well, I believe emotional mutualism (I don’t know if it’s a real term) and sincerity are crucial determinants (people-pleasers will disapprove of the latter). While they are obviously my personal touchstones, I am confident some will agree with mine. And yes, I can say my Facebook friendships fulfill the requirements!

My interaction with fellow homo sapiens is frequently laced with deceit, vanity and unyielding distaste of liberty. But, thanks to the benefits I mentioned two paragraphs ago, they occur significantly far less in my internet social circle. Based on my anecdotes (as that’s the only thing I can provide), not only online relationships can be as good as the offline ones, they have the prospect to be even better!

I believe that’s the reason why I find Your Name very personal. No, I don’t think the story is a deliberate allegory of our digitalised world. But, the tale of a human bonding that transcends space and time will surely have an impact on someone whose personal relationships are almost entirely established in the cyber world.

I can’t say anything about other people who have watched it. How many of them were emotionally affected by the watching experience? For those who were, why? If the reason had nothing to do with human bonding, I genuinely would like to know what that reason is.

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How to report Youtube culture as a ‘journalist’?

*puts on a mask*

The first thing you do is to embrace a reactionary mindset. Youtube culture is very young and new; therefore, anything that possess at least one of those adjectives must be dealt with utmost disrespect and dishonesty. Obviously, those two sentences should be enough to be your starting points. But, I need to be more detailed with this.

If you are being entirely truthful, you would make Youtubers in a very good light. Why? Because, unlike most traditional media people, they have to work harder. When they started doing Youtube, their careers didn’t immediately take off; on average, it takes five years for them to finally make a living out of the website. Not to mention they also had to learn how to be the host, director, cinematographer, editor, scriptwriter and graphic designer all at the same time and they can delegate those roles only after they can afford to do so!

So, you have to ignore all of those aspects and focus entirely on their supposedly ‘incomprehensible’ and ‘nonsensical’ popularity. That way, those Youtubers will appear like kids who achieve easy fame and fortune by simply making pointless videos from their bedrooms.

When talking about their videos, emphasise on the ones that showcase nothing but simple and escapist fun. Never mention the more heartfelt videos that even many mainstream Youtubers have made. Never mention that some Youtubers solely make educational videos! In the end, ‘traditional’ entertainment will look like the one with high quality when everyone knows it is far from the truth.

Oh, and don’t forget to take everything out of context. You have to portray every joke, including the dark ones (especially the dark ones) as expressions of seriousness. When they make serious statements that are laced with reason and morality, you should chop some of their words to make them sound like the villains and their actually villainous opponents look like the victims!

But, you are a journalist. In the end, you should be objective. What should you do if you don’t want to appear entirely antagonistic? Well, you have to remember what your parents told you: money is everything!

Focus on how much money they make. Even if you don’t know the exact number as Youtubers aren’t allowed to disclose their earnings, act like you know the exact number! Every time you don’t have anything good to say about them, just be obsessive about their wealth to the point where you act like you deserve the money more than those Youtubers do!

Oh, and never ever talk about the amount of money they have raised for charity. Your audience is mostly a bunch of selfish, money-obsessed individuals. They will never be interested in wealthy and charitable public figures. They are only interested in the ones who wear greed and selfishness as their badges of pride!

I hope you understand the basics of Youtube culture journalism. If you want to see great examples of it, you can watch and read media outlets’ reportage of Pewdiepie.

I know people have said this before: I believe Wall Street Journal is the best when it comes to reporting the biggest name on Youtube.

*takes off the mask*

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My thoughts about Shane Dawson’s concluded Jake Paul series

Well, I will go straight to one of the most glaring problems: the therapist.

Unlike some people, I actually don’t have a problem with her having an ‘irrelevant’ specialisation; when you are specialised in a subdiscipline, you HAVE to know the basics of the overall discipline! Whether she accurately described sociopathy or not, that is an entirely different problem and I am not confident enough to comment on.

What I do have a problem with is the possibly unethical practice as seen on episode five and six where she became an ‘undercover therapist’. I would feel violated and betrayed if a therapist does that same thing to me! If I am having my psyche evaluated, whether it is for my sake or science’s, I want to know about it! For me, those particular episodes are the most exploitative, not episode two as some people argue. But, I do think it is also problematic.

Its portrayal of sociopathy is too exploitative. Shane was condemned for his manipulative editing which utilises visually metaphorical stock footage and ‘scary’ sound effects, making the personality disorder sounds scarier than it is. With the existence of socially reckless entertainment like Criminal Minds, this will exacerbate the already-severe stigmatisation of sufferers of mentally illnesses!

But, I am also a fan of Shane. So, let me make an unsolicited apologetics, defending him on his behalf.

Even though Shane was being irresponsible on his part, we should remember that he is an entertainer first! His main duty is and will always be to entertain! It is obvious how his so-called documentaries look less like quest to obtain objective truths and more like the fulfillment of his own curiosity! Even though his cameraman Andrew was a also contributor of opinions, Shane’s personal outlooks defines the series’ angle.

Every scene that mentions sociopathy was made to feel ‘scary’ because Shane, an emotionally sensitive person, was genuinely terrified by its existence! Heck, even I am deeply unnerved by the existence of a personality disorder that can impair one’s empathy; I still cannot comprehend the existence of such condition on any human beings and the fact it is more common than I would like to believe!

Well, that’s why I call it an apologetics. As it is purely motivated by my fanboyism, my defence of Shane’s exploitative inclination is built on a feeble foundation which can crumble by the slightest gush of comebacks. But, I do have stronger defences for the humanisation and the so-called ‘stalling’.

I refuse to call it ‘stalling’. Whether Shane was a good researcher or not, it is up to a debate. But, he did try to be a thorough one. While others think the series dilly-dallies, I think Shane didn’t want to keep his viewers in the dark about many crucial information and about how he obtained them! If he went straight to interview Jake Paul, he would not know how to make his prime interviewee to open up.

When the series was announced, many people were angry because they deemed it as an effort to humanise Jake. Why was that controversial in the first place? Besides the obvious thing that he is indeed biologically a human being, it will also be easier to criticise him.

If you keep portraying a public figure you hate as a monster from another realm, how are you going to convince people who are either supportive of or apathetic about him/her that he/she is an earthly being we must condemn for moral reasons? In the end, you look like a paranoid person… or worse, the monstrous one who loves to dehumanises others!

As I mentioned in my previous Shane Dawson article, one of his strengths is his desire to connect with fellow human beings on an emotional level. Admittedly, it can be a weakness if one is not careful. But, in this series, it pays off.

During the humanisation process, which peaks in the last episode as shown by Jake’s increasing vulnerability, Shane confronts him regarding his horrible Youtube content, simultaneously reminding us of its existence. While he may be a genuinely pleasant person to hang out with, he is still a socially irresponsible content creator!

Instead of watching an unearthly creature as people believe him to be, the viewers watch a seemingly amiable yet deeply-flawed and insecure human being who still has lots of things to learn in life. For me, that’s a relatively perceptive and realistic judgment of an individual!

Again, as I also mentioned in the previous article, humanising our enemies is easier said than done. If I were a Youtuber, I would create mean-spirited commentaries. If I try harder, I can be just like Youtubers like Nerd City, who is praised for his excellent research and sound arguments. But, following Shane’s footsteps will require me painstaking self-reflection which, while essential for my growth, is not something I can do effortlessly… or willing to do at all!

The humanisation aspect makes me wish the series also enquire into the minds of Logan and Greg Paul as well. From the limited information we get, it seems they are among the reasons why Jake’s personal and professional lives are a big mess. They are also entangled in the spider web. Some viewers (me included) start to believe they are the sociopaths; interviewing them would probably refute or confirm the accusations.

Actually, I believe it is a good idea to interview individuals who have been professionally and personally involved with him.
As imagined, the interviewees give contradicting statements regarding certain controversies. While Shane seems cautious enough to not take sides, some of his viewers may not be hesitant to do so. Personally, I refuse to take sides because I need to do my own research as well… which I am unwilling to do. But, I am confident to say this: the interviewees, including Jake himself, have very believable claims about each other.

Let’s use the Team 10 kinship/membership as an example. Ex-members claim Jake was being abusive and greedy. Jake, current Team 10 members and Nick Crompton claim those individuals took advantage of Jake’s familial affection and were on it only for the fame and fortune. I find both sides believable.

Jake is an immature young man whose fame commenced rapidly, who is strongly implied to have been raised with toxic masculinity by his allegedly sociopathic father and have a purely physical, one-sided relationship with his dominant and also allegedly sociopathic big brother. Even if he lacks any ill intentions, he may unintentionally abuse his friends with his transgressive fun; regardless, he still needs to sincerely apologise and changes his behaviours for the better.

But, Jake is also a celebrity. Inevitably, having such status means one would be attractive to bloodsucking leeches who yearn for quick fame and fortune; if Jake really does regard the team members as his family just like some people claim, they betray him on a deeply personal level and, in spite of what I said on the previous paragraph, I can’t help but feeling sorry for him and feeling hateful of them.

I think this topic is more interesting than the horrible content of Youtube videos (which I still find compelling nonetheless). I am always intrigued by the (in)sincerity of human relationships, particularly when one lives in a society where human bonding is judged by its quantity, not quality. In fact, such discussion is a major reason why I love the series. But, when judging it in its entirety, my feelings are very mixed.

As mentioned earlier, I am still uncomfortable about its unethical production with the ‘undercover psychiatric analysis’ on episode five and six and the exploitative editing on episode two. Even a big fanboy like me can do nothing but being an apologist for him. Citing my previous Shane Dawson article again, he may unintentionally indoctrinate his viewers with falsehood.

That fact alone convinces me how entertainers need a sense of social responsibility. No matter how good the intentions are, every content creator, especially ones with large followings, needs to be more considerate with their endeavours. While social responsibility is not an objective occupational duty of theirs, it sure can elevates their moral standing as artists and entertainers.

Outlook wise, it feels patchy considering how he did not interview Logan and Greg. But, overall, it is still very well-rounded! The interviews of individuals associated with Jake not only dispel the accusation of giving him full and compliant platform, it also convinces me (and hopefully other viewers) about the intricacy of the problems. Even though one cannot help from making one’s own so-called ‘theories’, it is more righteous to assume ignorance.

Oh, and I cannot stress this enough and I will repeat this till the end of time: humanisation is key! It will ease your efforts to discredit your target on the eyes of doubters and it will keep you on a moral ground higher than your target’s, whom you claim to be immoral. Shane is sublime regarding this and it is a shame he is ethically-challenged in other aspects; otherwise, the series would be much more wholesome.

I don’t know how this will affect anyone involved. But, regarding Jake and Shane, I hope they listen more attentively to the criticisms against them and thrive to become better content creators. It will be good for their fans, the overall Youtube community and, most importantly, for themselves.

I do realise many of the criticisms I directed to Shane are also relevant to Jake. But, we should learn that commentaries reveal nothing about their subjects. Instead, they reveal the true nature of the commentators.

This series reveals more about Shane than it does about Jake.

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The (prospective) problem with Shane Dawson

 

I initially wanted to make a review of his Jake Paul series. But, now that I think about it, I am more intrigued to write about him as a content creator. As the series is still ongoing, I am still not enlightened to evaluate. I am not sure if I will after the finale is uploaded.
I actually never cared about his earliest works. I started watching him since he first uploaded ‘scary’ videos on his second channel (which now has become his first). I love to watch him talking about conspiracies, ghost stories and his supposed personal experiences with the supernatural… and, strangely, I no longer believe in those things!

Admittedly, him, Garrett, Morgan and (presumably) Andrew easily construe weird happenings as supernatural ones can be a bit irritating. The ‘ghostly orbs’ in their photos were the results of airborne particles reflecting the flashes. The staff of HMS Queen Mary might be the ones who caused the ‘inexplicable’ noises. I am also annoyed by Shane’s brother, who has appeared in one conspiracies videos, who sincerely believe in easily-debunked conspiracies. And yet, I still love watching his ‘scary’ videos.

I constantly rummaged through my brain, trying to decipher my attraction towards his videos. At first, I thought I might be intrigued by the extraordinary beliefs. Why do some people believe in so-called ‘secrets’ that the mainstream society jeer? Why do some believe in the afterlife despite not being religious? Is what they are doing ‘spirituality’?
After a while, I found the explanation unsatisfactory. He is not the first I know who expresses sincere belief in ghosts and constantly dwells in conspiracies; in fact, in many cases, I find the people who do the same things extremely irritating. So, I conclude that I love Shane the Youtube channel… well… because of Shane Dawson himself!

Note: yes, I know being pedantic here! Of course, we love Youtubers for the people they supposedly are! I am just re-telling my efforts to comprehend my seemingly inexplicable attraction to Shane’s works. Anyway…

When it comes to the ghosts, he is far from a sceptic. He is very sure about the existence of ghost. But, despite me believing the opposite, I am not annoyed at all. He never slaps his belief onto other people’s faces. He also had fun by ghost hunting with his ‘squad’. He even includes doubtful voices like his boyfriend Ryland and, to a lesser extent, Ryland’s mother.

Remember what I said earlier about how I love Shane’s videos because I am intrigued by beliefs in ghosts? Now, I believe it is the other way around; before Shane, I didn’t remember having such thinking. I credit the existence of this sense of intrigue on his humility. I never expected that another man’s down-to-earth lack of scepticism can be a fuel to my intellectual musing.

When it comes to conspiracies, Shane still has a healthy level of scepticism, though. He does not take them for granted. It is obvious how his dwelling with them is, more of than not, about having ‘morbid’ fun. Heck, he even said his brother is crazy for sincerely believing them. But, his conspiracy videos are still potentially problematic.

While they have some level of doubt in them, it is not emphasised enough! Sceptical viewers, whether they like Shane or not, would not accept his content as the truths. Relatively media-savvy fans would have an easy time distinguishing entertainment and facts from each other. How about viewers who are neither?

They would probably start believing in unproven conspiracies. They would probably end up thinking the ‘alternative’ media outlets are entirely truthful and ‘mainstream’ ones are entirely deceitful, thinking that every scientist who discredits pseudoscientific beliefs are corporate shills. They would probably end up suffering paranoia.

You can correct if I am wrong (as if people read my writings). But, I do think believing in unproven conspiracies is more harmful than believing in ghosts. The belief in the former is the reason why Pizzagate existed which provoked a man to commit a shooting which could have killed someone. It is also the reason why some people exacerbate the suffering of the parents of Sandy Hook’s victims. It also aggravates the already-epidemic anti-Semitism.

There is a reason why I say ‘conspiracies’ instead of ‘conspiracy theories’. A theory is a set of ideas and principles that are supported by the constant stream of thorough researches.

I know that Shane does not have any ill-intentions. But, I just wish he was more responsible as a content creator.

Actually, before I end this article, I do have something to say about Shane’s still ongoing Jake Paul series:

Critically, there are Youtubers who make much better Youtube commentaries. Nerd City, Drew Gooden, iDubbz, Bobby Burns, Kwite, just to name a few. From my perspective, unlike Shane, they are much better in not letting their emotions getting the ways, make better researchers and possess a stronger sense of skepticism. But, Shane has one undeniable strength: his willingness to humanise fellow human beings.

As much as I love the brutal criticisms made by the other content creators, they can be dehumanising. Whether intentional or not, they often portray their targets as abnormal screen characters instead of real, deeply-flawed individuals. After facing their targets in person, iDubbz and Bobby Burns openly felt guilty for failing to see them as human beings. Shane is successful regarding that.

When he wants to get to know another famous figures, he wants to meet them in person. He wants to understand them on an emotional level. Other Youtubers focus on the ‘what’, Shane focuses on the ‘why’. While emotionality can be his weakness, it is clearly also a strength of his.

Shane successfully reassured Jeffree, a very private figure, to open up about his own vulnerability without making excuses for the latter’s past as an internet provocateur! Shane has proven that humans are more than just the labels imposed onto themselves!


If I were a Youtube commentator, I would probably be the one who does mean-spirited criticisms while barely making proper citations. Ideally, I would love to be a combination of Nerd City and Shane Dawson. Realistically, following the former’s footsteps is much easier for me than following the latter’s. I can easily force myself to do thorough researches. But, humanising my targets require me to look inward and contemplate.

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2018 Asian Games opening ceremony… a big pile of meh and WTF

Yup, among the bedazzled Indonesians, I am of the ones who is not entirely impressed by it. Let’s be real here: it still has glaring problems here and there. Now, where should I start?

Ah yes, the mediocre artistic merit.

The fake mountains that almost subjugated the rest of the stage obviously copied the turfed hills of the London Olympics ceremony.

The Ratoh Jaroe dancing (often mistaken as Saman) obviously copied the Beijing Olympics drummers. The dancers were in a rectangular formation, just like drummers were. They wore colour-changing costumes which allowed them to create coloured patterns without moving places, just like the drummers with their illuminated individual drums, which allowed them to form giant Chinese numerals and perform the countdown.

The anthology of folk songs and traditional dances, while successfully depicted Indonesian diversity, is something that has been done many times before! It has become a go-to method of introducing the country’s cultural richness to the world.

While the cauldron looked nothing like the one in London, the general atmosphere when it was set on fire was similar. The fireworks, the lighting, the song. Even though it may be coincidental, I cannot help thinking this was also a copy.

I am not sure what is wrong with most of the dancing. They felt lackluster. Maybe it was the choreography. Maybe it was the dancers who didn’t spend much time practicing. Either way, the dancing failed to emanate the intended moods.

The event’s original songs are not impressive. Unlike many old-school Indonesian pop songs, they do not have an impact on my soul (pardon my pretentiousness). Heck, even the one composed and written by Guruh Soekarno Putra, one of my most favourite songwriters ever, felt like just another of those mawkishly-written ‘inspirational’ pop songs that will bring nausea to every single Indonesian who are not brainless enough to easily fall for immodest sentimentality.

Because of the ordinariness, the ceremony does not have the thought-provoking disposition of the Athen Olympics nor does it possess the emotional climaxes of the London and Rio ones. It does not have a lasting impact on me.

Okay, okay! I know how unfair it is to compare an opening ceremony of a continental multi-sporting event to ones of global calibre. It would be fair to compare it with the other Asian Games ceremonies. But, I am too lazy to watch them. So, I am resorting to an uneven comparison which is a lot easier. But, I do have more easily vindicated criticisms about the event’s ideological substance, which I find detrimental for our own good.

It openly promoted patriotism through the pretentious voice-over narration, which no one bothered to translate to English, despite its original purpose is to promote cosmopolitanism and the opening ceremony is meant to be an introduction to the host country and making guests feel at home! But, believing in one’s country’s non-existing perfection is more important, it seems.

Speaking about that…

I hate the speeches of Sheikh Ahmed Al-Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah (or 4As for short), the president of Olympic Council of Asia, and Erick Thohir, the organising committee chairman. Al-Sabah pandered to the Indonesian audience by praising about their so-called suaveness and saying how much he loved them… repeatedly… in Indonesian. It was cringeworthy to hear. But, it was relatively harmless. Thohir’s, on the other hand, was quite dangerous.

He prided himself as a citizen of a country with the largest Muslim population that still manages to retain its interreligious peace. Yes, religiously, Indonesia fares way better than countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Bangladesh and Maldives. But, only toads living under coconut shells believe our interreligious life is in pristine condition.

Literally days after the ceremony, a Buddhist woman was sentenced to one and a half years in prison for complaining about loud calls to prayer (which, believe it or not, many Indonesian Muslims also complain about) while Buddhist temple vandalisers were sentenced for three months! We let Aceh implement its own provincial Sharia! We only officially recognise six religions, none of them indigenous! Ahmadi Muslims are treated worst than adherents of indigenous beliefs! Oh, and Ahok is still in jail for non-existing blasphemy!

Peace, my ass! The ceremony’s poor aesthetics may be tolerable. But, his speech really ruins the event’s moral integrity for me.

Of course, I should not be surprised by this. Preceding the traditional cultures anthology was a so-called re-enactment of Indonesia’s early history. Accompanied by that tastelessly nationalistic narration, it showcased how Indonesia is a peaceful and pluralistic nation and has always been since the dawn of time. It is pretty much historical negationism.

Now, going back to how unfair I am for comparing it with ones of bigger calibres. If I can completely ignore the denialism, I would see the show as a big pile of guilty pleasure!

Those cheesy pop songs have appropriately upbeat arrangement and cheerful lyrics. Even the introverted and cynical creature in me was invigorated by their sounds and I actually wished I was there!

As much as I find the anthology a major cliche, I also can’t help myself from loving it! There is something about the parade of my country’s diversity that makes the Indonesian in me warm and fuzzy inside. Besides, it is indeed the easiest way to showcase our cultures; I can’t think of any other effective approaches.

I also love how they booked Joey Alexander! It was a short performance. But, his sublimity as a Jazz pianist bestows the spectacle with a dash of elegance! I believe Jazz can be as exquisite as classical music… or even more so. The Jazzy rendition of Angin Mamiri and Gending Sriwijaya, two folk songs from two culturally distinct provinces, is a refreshing deviation from the usual utilisation of classical-sounding, pop-ish and/or ethnic music.

Actually, it was not the only display of elegance. I almost forgot to mention the moonlight dance (I name it myself, don’t remember its actual name), which preceded Joey’s appearance. While a foreign friend of mine rightly said it looked picturesque, I would love to add another adjective: ethereal.

The fake full moon made the segment feels unworldly. It was supposed to symbolise worldliness, but it didn’t. It made the overall show slightly more extramundane. If they substitute the conventional orchestral soundtrack with something more ambient like New Age music or something more daringly postmodern like Minimal music, I can guarantee the immersion would intensify. Of course, it would be too creative for the viewers; we Indonesians hate anything too creative.

In spite of my criticism, I also have to commend the Ratoh Jaroe dancing. Not only it was the only dance number that I enjoyed, it also fired up the audience’s spirit just like those pop songs did. The colour-changing costumes, which impressively did not involve any electronics, also contributed to the liveliness.

Right from the beginning, the show made great and triumphant efforts to protect itself from the lethargic virus, unlike those shitty ceremonies of the 2012 National Sports Week and the 2013 Islamic Solidarity Games. While not as dull as the two, the 2011 Southeast Asian games one also failed to stir up my spirit.

While I can be pretentious, I am not pretentious enough to completely hate escapist fun. Sometimes, entertainment is just all about entertainment. Sometimes, the absence of artistry is tolerable.

But, again, the immorality of Thohir’s speech still bugs me. I don’t think there is nothing inherently wrong with enjoying anything that comes from a human rights-violating nation. But, if that something tries to legitimise the violation or, in this case, denies its existence, every well-informed person with a functioning moral compass would have a hard time enjoying it.

I am disappointed how I haven’t found a single article or video that condemns Thohir’s speech. Maybe, I just haven’t found one yet. Maybe, as a nation, we are seriously in denial about our past and our current state of being.

Knowing my people, it is probably the latter.

Correction: I stated that Joey Alexander performed his rendition of Angin Mamiri and Gending Sriwijaya. It is incorrect. He only performed Gending Sriwijaya. Angin Mamiri was, in fact, the soundtrack for the preceding moonlight dance.

I don’t know why I bothered making this correction, considering my lack of significant readership.

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How to review entertainment (and the arts)

*puts on a mask*

First thing first, be a simpleton! A good reviewer must be able to remove intricacy out of their ways of thinking. Embrace the glory of black-and-whiteness!

There are two ways to implement this superficiality: either become a snob or an uncultured swine.

In general, a snob hates entertainment. He/she thinks a good creation must be entirely artistic and meaningful. An uncultured swine is more or less the same, just replace ‘artistic’ and ‘meaningful’ with ‘entertaining’.

Let’s start how to be a snob first.

If you want to be a snob, you have to be watchful of any leisurely elements. I am speaking about traces of lightheartedness and escapism. Of course, some creators successfully meld low brow ingredients with high brow and that makes them a menace to your profound sensibility.

Visualise yourself immersing in an ostensibly artistic work. Suddenly, the thing you are profoundly appreciating makes you feel… amused… pleasured… entertained. Entertained? ENTERTAINED?!

HOLY SHIT #$@$#@$@@^@!! Drop everything you are doing and stay fucking calm!!!

Whew, you nearly cascaded into the escapist trap. After you have fully recuperated from such harrowing occurence, you have to immediately lambaste the work! Lambaste it for having the audacity to be whimisical, lambaste it for shrouding superficiality with wisdom! Flush its entire merit which it is worthy of anymore down the lavatory!

Just be heedful to not clog the pipes. You will do a lot of flushing in your lifespan.

Oh, and don’t forget to be a complacent prick. You must devote a large fragment of your time to disparage every single mortal who still can revel in entertainment! You may as well declare them guilty of egocentric detachment from the world we live in!

Whether your social awareness is whole-hearted or not, it does not matter. What matters is you seem to possess it in your heart. It is all about boasting a so-called higher moral ground!

How about being an uncultured swine? It is the opposite of a snob. Therefore, all we have to do is the complete opposite, right? Well, yes and no.

When it comes to dealing with purely artistic works, a swine must react the exact same a snob reacts to entertainment. If a creation seems boring or incomprehensible from the start, then it is artsy! Stop enjoying it immediately! Believe me, one near-depth experience is unpleasant enough, let alone hundreds of them!

After you recover from the shock, you should proceed to berate the creators and their admirers for being self-righteous, pretentious pricks! You don’t care about depth. Therefore, caring about it is a sign of deviance. Treat your personal interests as if they are the ideal criteria for ‘sanity’!

Now, what happen if the works blur the line between art and entertainment? Well, there is nothing to worry about. As the pleasure elements exist, you can only focus on them and disregard the profundity entirely. What you should be cautious of is the entertainment reviewers.

When you find ones who use their intellect, call them out! Employ the same method you use to put artists and art lovers to their places: by calling them self-righteous, pretentious pricks!

How dare they exploring the deepness that our favourite entertainment provides? How dare they resist against pure escapism? How dare they encourage us to contemplate about the world we live in? Fuck those bullshits!

Uncultured simpletons define what it means to be humans. Like it or not, they are humanity’s greatest assets! Sophistication literally kills humanity!

So, there you go! Those are the two ways to be entertainment reviewers! They all boil down to this:

Be a simpleton! Life is all about proselytising your absolute, black-and-white mentality! Life is all about establishing divisiveness among mankind!

And entertainment is the easiest way to achieve such state of being!

*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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