My worried take on Indonesian tourism

Note:

I initially wanted to submit this essay, which was originally written in Indonesian, to a writing contest. But, because of technicalities, I missed the deadline. Oh, well.

Honestly, I am worried about it.

On one hand, I would love for the Indonesian tourism industry to thrive. I would love for those places with high potentials to be visited by tourists. Besides the obvious economic benefits, as a nation, we would be able to brag to the world about the abundance of natural and cultural beauty in the country. We would have a bigger sense of pride.

But, just like everything in life, tourism has a downside.

First and foremost, once it thrives in a region, the residents will be too economically dependent on the tourism industry. No matter how big an industry is, its coverage is and will always be limited. Once the dominant industry collapses, the region’s economy will experience free fall; the effect would not be as severe if the economy is more diversified.

Of course, it tends to happen in places where the economies have been fragile from the very beginning, either because of the small population, geographical isolation, or the neglect by the local and/or central governments. But, every famous tourist destination does share the same problem: the tourists themselves.

Their overwhelming presence often makes the locals don’t feel at home in their own turfs, in where they are forced to adapt to the outsiders’ desires. If this problem becomes out of control, it will turn the locals xenophobic and cause social instability.

Of course, instability does not happen to every famous tourist destination. This is one hundred percent purely hypothetical on my part. Theoretically, it can happen. But, that does not mean it has happened or will happen. Even though I am sure some of the locals have grown to dislike the tourists, I don’t know if the dislike has ever caused long-lasting social instability.

But, I am one hundred percent certain the surge of tourists causes physical damages.

Human presence will definitely ruin places that are still natural and loaded with rich histories. Ideally, if one desires absolute conservation, one has to ban tourism altogether. But, if one wants to reap financial benefits from tourism (and I cannot judge those who do) while conserving at the same time, one has to limit the number of visitors.

The restriction will definitely limit the profits. Moreover, even if the risk of damage has become minuscule and the management is effectively implemented, the risk is still there as long as humans are present. We cannot guarantee every single visitor behaves like a civilised human being.

I believe the tourism must go on. But, the activities must be bound by sensible rules if one does not want turn a blessing into a curse.

And we should never be too dependent on that particular industry.

Oh yeah, I also have some words about Peter F. Gontha’s statement regarding Indonesian tourism.

He stated that we should give the tourism spotlights on beaches while sidelining gamelan. His reason? Foreigners prefer beaches over music.

Three reasons why I am disappointing with his statement.

First of all, Indonesia is not the only country with beautiful beaches; they are bountiful in other tropical and subtropical regions. Meanwhile, gamelan can only be found in Indonesia and there aren’t many countries that can boast similar musical instruments. Prioritising attractions that are bountiful in the world will strain our competitiveness.

Second, even if foreigners are admittedly more attracted to beaches, their interest in gamelan is also high. Believe or not, many of us travel overseas because we want to have a taste of foreign cultures. I am sure there are foreigners other than scholars and students who are interested in gamelan.

Third (and most importantly), prioritising beach tourism means we encourage the people to prioritise monetary benefits over everything and we encourage them to perceive their heritage as mere decorations. Satisfying foreigners’ hedonistic desires is more important than preserving our nation’s identity.

I am sure that was not his intention. But, if we put his suggestion into practice, we will encourage the citizenry who is already dismissive about their ancestral heritage to be even more dismissive.

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Was-was akan pariwisata Indonesia

Catatan:

Sebenarnya saya berencana untuk menyerahkan karangan ini untuk perlombaan menulis. Tetapi, karena permasalahan teknis, saya melewati tenggat waktu. Ya, sudahlah.

Jujur, saya was-was dengan industri pariwisata.

Pada satu sisi, saya ingin sekali pariwisata Indonesia maju. Saya ingin sekali setiap tempat-tempat yang memilik potensi dikunjungi oleh para wisatawan. Selain manfaat ekonomis yang sudah pasti akan berlimpah ruah, sebagai bangsa kita juga bisa berunjuk gigi kepada dunia dengan menampilkan keindahan alam dan kebudayaan bangsa yang berlimpah ruah. Kita akan memiliki rasa bangga yang jauh lebih tinggi.

Tetapi, seperti setiap hal dalam hidup, pariwisata juga ada sisi buruknya.

Pertama, sekalinya sukses berjalan di suatu daerah, warga-warga setempat menjadi sangat tergantung pada industri pariwisata di perekonomian mereka. Sebesar-besarnya suatu industri, cangkupannya akan selalu terbatas. Jika sebuah industri yang menonjol tiba tiba tumbang, perekonomian daerah tersebut juga akan terjun bebas; dampaknya tidak akan terlalu gawat jika perekonomiannya terdiri atas sektor-sektor yang jauh lebih beragam.

Tentu saja, kasus seperti itu cenderung terjadi di daerah-daerah di mana kondisi perekonomian sudah rentan sejak awal, entah karena angka penduduk yang sangat rendah, lokasi mereka yang sangat terpencil dan/atau kecilnya perhatian dari pemerintah setempat dan/atau pusat. Tetapi, setiap tujuan wisata terkemuka memiliki satu permasalahan yang sama: wisatawan-wisatawan itu sendiri.

Saking banyaknya mereka yang datang, para warga setempat sering merasa tidak nyaman di rumah sendiri, di mana mereka dipaksa beradaptasi untuk memuaskan kemauan-kemauan orang-orang luar. Jika hal itu tidak terkendali, xenophobia akan tumbuh di dalam hati warga-warga setempat dan menciptakan ketidakstabilan sosial.

Tentu saja, ketidakstabilan tersebut tidak selalu terjadi di setiap tujuan-tujuan wisata terkemuka. Ini adalah pengandaian yang seratus persen berasal dari pemikiran saya sendiri. Secara teoris, hal itu mungkin saja bisa terjadi. Tapi, belum tentu pernah atau akan terjadi. Walaupun saya yakin sebagian warga-warga setempat memiliki rasa tidak suka terhadap para pelancong, saya tidak tahu apakah ketidaksukaan tersebut pernah berujung kepada ketidakstabilan sosial yang berkepanjangan.

Tetapi, saya yakin seratus persen banyaknya pengunjung memberikan dampak kerusakan fisik.

Wilayah-wilayah yang masih dapat dibilang alami dan memiliki nilai sejarah yang tinggi sudah pasti akan dirusak oleh kehadiran manusia. Idealnya, jika kita menginginkan pelestarian yang mutlak, kita harus sepenuhnya melarang pelaksanaan pariwisata.Tapi, jika kita masih ingin meraup keuntungan dari pariwisata (dan saya tidak bisa menghakimi orang-orang yang memiliki keinginan tersebut) dan sekaligus menjalankan pelestarian, kita harus membatasi jumlah pengunjung.

Keuntungan sudah pasti jauh lebih terbatas dengan adanya pembatasan itu. Ditambah lagi, walaupun risiko kerusakan menjadi sangat kecil dan pengurusan dijalankan oleh pihak berwenang dengan baik, risiko itu masih tetap ada selama manusia dibiarkan berkunjung. Kita tidak bisa menjamin setiap manusia yang berkunjung memiliki tindak-tanduk yang beradab.

Menurut saya, pariwisata negara masih tetap harus berjalan. Tapi, kegiatan pariwisata harus dibatasi dengan peraturan yang disusun dengan bijak agar kita tidak merubah berkah menjadi malapetaka.

Dan kita juga jangan terlalu tergantung pada industri tersebut.

Oh ya, saya juga punya komentar tentang pernyataan Peter F. Gontha tentang pariwisata Indonesia.

Beliau mengatakan bahwa kita harus menomorsatukan pantai-pantai sebagai atraksi wisata dan menomorduakan hal-hal yang berbau kebudayaan seperti gamelan. Alasannya? Orang-orang asing lebih suka ke pantai daripada main musik.

Ada tiga alasan kenapa saya kecewa dengan pernyataan beliau.

Pertama, Indonesia bukan satu-satunya negara dengan pantai-pantai yang indah; mereka juga berlimpah-ruah di wilayah-wilayah tropis dan subtropis lainnya. Sedangkan gamelan hanya bisa ditemukan di Indonesia dan hanya sedikit negara yang memiliki peralatan musik yang kurang lebih serupa. Menomorsatukan “tontonan” yang berlimpah di dunia akan membuat negara kita sulit bersaing.

Kedua, walaupun orang-orang asing memang jauh lebih tertarik dengan pantai, minat mereka akan gamelan juga tinggi. Percaya tidak percaya, banyak dari kita yang melancong ke luar negeri karena kita ingin “mencicipi” kebudayaan asing. Saya yakin sekali ada orang-orang asing selain para sarjana dan mahasiswa musik yang tertarik dengan gamelan.

Ketiga (dan menurut saya, alasan yang paling penting), menomorsatukan wisata pantai berarti kita mendorong masyarakat untuk mementingkan keuntungan semata dan menganggap warisan kebudayaan sebagai sekedar hiasan. Memberikan orang-orang asing kenikmatan duniawai jauh lebih penting daripada melestarikan jati diri bangsa.

Saya yakin itu bukan niat beliau. Tapi, jika saran tersebut kita laksanakan, kita akan mendorong anak-anak bangsa yang sudah tidak peduli dengan warisan leluhur untuk menjadi semakin tidak peduli.

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Bizarrely mournful

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

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

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

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

Wait, what?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, grieving!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now about the intentions of the organisers…

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

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

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My thoughts about Shane Dawson’s ongoing Jake Paul series

As some of us know, Shane’s The Mind of Jake Paul series is still ongoing. As I am typing this, only two videos had been uploaded. Admittedly, I can’t tell if it is going to rock or bomb. But, I can confidently say the backlashes Shane is receiving are idiotic and blown out of proportion.

First of all, look at the trailers. The editing intentionally made him look like a sinister, monstrous figure who was ready to slaughter you once you let your guard down, exuding vibes not unlike of a psychological thriller flick. Heck, even Shane said Jake would not like what the series is going to be about! Basically, it very much looks like an anti-Jake ‘propaganda’.

And yet, people dishonestly accuse Shane of giving Jake a platform to voice his side of the story, to give his haters ‘perspectives’. That makes me wonder if we watched the exact same videos. They may as well hear Shane saying ‘I hate Harry Potter!’ and then getting accused of ‘loving Harry Potter!’.

Shane is also criticised for his ‘manipulative’ presentation which supposedly overselling the creepiness by utilising unsettling music and sound effects and symbolically-fitting stock videos. For me, this is just another case of unfairly demanding journalistic integrity from entertainers.

Just like Stephen Colbert and his buddies, Shane Dawson is first and foremost an entertainer! His job is to entertain people. He is not a self-proclaimed journalist and he does not have a background as one. What he cares about is to showcase his own vantage points. I mean, his previous series were based on the exact motivation!

His Molly Burke videos were about him getting to know a person who perseveres despite life tribulation and, to a lesser extend, dealing with his fear of blindness. His Tanacon videos were about him confronting a close friend who was in deep, hot water. His Jeffree Star videos were motivated by his curiosity regarding his controversial and mysterious acquaintance.

His Jake Paul videos, the first two at least, were motivated by his fascination and uneasiness for a frankly terrifying personality disorder. It was all about Shane’s thoughts and feelings. No scholarly paradigms, no objectivity. Only subjectivity. If Shane explicitly proclaims himself as a journalist, then one has a good reason to hate his ‘manipulative’ presentation.

Oh, and back to people who accuse him of giving Jake an even louder megaphone.

They threatened to unsubscribe if Shane kept going with the series. I don’t know if they kept their promise. But, frankly, it would be lovely if they did. Yes, one of my favourite idols would have less subscribers. But, at the same time, there would less irrational pricks in a fandom where I belong to.

I can’t wait to watch more of the videos. I wish Shane keeps his promise about keeping the positive light away from Jake.

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Ringkasan sudut pandang umat Muslim Indonesia

Berdasarkan tugas kuliah saya. Versi Bahasa Inggris dapat dibaca di tautan ini. Entah kenapa, saya lupa menerbitkan artikel Bahasa Indonesia.

Ahok dituntut dua tahun penjara karena melakukan penistaan agama yang tidak pernah beliau lakukan. Habib Rizieq, yang dengan lantang dan jelas menghina agama Kristen dan menginginkan semua warga Indonesia untuk tunduk kepada hukum Syariah, masih belum tersentuh UU penistaan agama. Bahkan, Ahok dianggap sebagai pemecah kesatuan bangsa dan Rizieq sebagai pemersatu oleh sebagian umat Muslim.

Sayangnya, ketidakadilan ini bukanlah hal yang mengejutkan. Pertama, Islam adalah agama yang besar di Indonesia, dianut oleh 87.18% penduduk; mudah bagi kelompok mayoritas untuk berkuasa. Saya mendapatkan data tersebut dari sensus penduduk yang diterbikan oleh Badan Pusat Statistik (BPS) pada tahun 2010. agama-agama minoritas juga disebutkan. Tetapi, keseimbangan dalam pengkajian agama tidak selalu dipegang.

Kajian statistik menyeluruh Indonesia yang diterbitkan BPS pada tahun 2016 menyebutkan jumlah sekolah, guru dan murid Madrasah yang dikelola pemerintah dan juga jumlah warga yang melaksanakan ibadah Haji. Begitu juga dengan kajian terbitan tahun 2015 dan 2014. Kajian-kajian tersebut dilaksanakan untuk memahami berbagai segi kehidupan negara, termasuk ‘perkembangan sosial-demografi’, seperti tertera pada halaman pendahuluan setiap kajian tersebut.

Kajian demografi seharusnya meliputi semua kelompok-kelompok, bukan hanya kelompok mayoritas. Umat beragama lain tidak disebut sama sekali sedang umat Islam dikaji lebih dalam. Pemerintah Indonesia terkesan menganaktirikan agama-agama minoritas. Mungkin saya picik karena memermasalahkan kajian statistik. Tetapi, sifat ketidakberimbangan tersebut juga ditunjukan dalam tata kerja pemerintahan.

Dari namanya saja, kementerian agama (kemenag) seharusnya mengayomi semua umat beragama. Tetapi, pada kenyataannya, hanya umat Islam yang dilayani. Kementerian masih dikuasai oleh orang-orang Muslim, termasuk jabatan menteri. Setidaknya, jika mereka hanya mengayomi umat Islam, nama kementerian agama seharusnya diubah menjadi kementerian agama Islam. Tidak perlu bermuslihat.

Tentu saja, saya tidak bisa menuduh pemerintah Indonesia terlalu menganakemaskan Islam. Selain Islam, agama Protestan, Katolik, Buda, Hindu dan Konghucu juga diakui secara resmi. Kemenag, walaupun dikuasai orang-orang Muslim, masih memiliki badan-badan yang mewakili umat beragama lain. Universitas-universitas negeri beragama non-Islam masih dapat ditemukan. Jabatan-jabatan menteri masih bisa dipegang oleh penganut agama-agama lain. Walaupun ada kecenderungan untuk tidak berimbang dan mencampur-aduk agama dengan politik, pemerintah Indonesia masih belum dicemari paham Islamisme.

Saya juga yakin bahwa permasalahan juga dapat ditemukan di masyarakat. Di masa pasca-Soeharto, Syahrin Harahap melihat bahwa rakyat Indonesia memiliki tiga citra yang berbeda: citra keterbukaan dan kerhamonisan, citra sekuler, liberal dan kebarat-baratan dan citra konflik umat beragama dan bersifat terror (2006, p. 32-43).

Pengamatan tersebut menunjukan bahwa suatu bangsa, terutama bangsa yang sangat beragam seperti Indonesia, selalu terdiri atas berbagai macam kelompok yang berbeda. Tetapi, pada saat yang bersamaan, citra-citra yang beragam tersebut juga bersifat hitam-putih.

Kalangan liberal dianggap sebagai kalangan yang tidak mengutamakan keharmonisan, walaupun tokoh-tokoh liberal seperti Ulil Abshar Abdalla mendukung kaum Ahmadiyah. Kita juga lupa menyebutkan bahwa, seperti yang saya sebutkan sebelumnya, Habieb Rizieq dipuja oleh para warga negara yang mengaku mencintai keharmonisan. Topeng yang kita gunakan hanyalah alat untuk bermuslihat.

Rasionalitas, seperti yang dipeluk oleh sebagian para pemikir Islam, dianggap sebagai hal yang cenderung kebarat-baratan. Anggapan itu membuat rasionalitas terkesan bertentangan dengan budaya timur yang dipeluk oleh sebagian besar umat Islam.

Rasionalitas juga tidak dianggap sebagai salah satu unsur citra keterbukaan. Pemikiran rasional hanya dianggap sebagai sesuatu yang menjauhkan kita dari agama, bukan sebagai faktor pendorong keterbukaan. Akibatnya, umat Islam akan melihat pemikiran rasional sebagai sesuatu yang tidak pantas dipeluk.

Kita juga lupa bahwa kebudayaan barat sangatlah digemari di Indonesia, bahkan di antara warga-warga yang menentang liberalisme. Budaya pop Islami Indonesia-pun sangat kebarat-baratan, dengan komersialisme dan hedonisme yang mengundang kritikan dari kalangan-kalangan konservatif (Saluz 2009).

Ditambah lagi, banyak para penceramah yang memiliki derajat sebagai selebritas. Setiap ceramah yang mereka berikan selalu menghasilkan uang yang berlimpah. Mereka juga sering muncul di berbagai macam iklan. Mereka sangat mirip dengan para televangelists yang banyak ditemukan di Amerika Serikat, sebuah negara barat.

Para pemikir liberal tersebut juga dianggap kebarat-baratan karena mereka belajar di universitas-universitas barat. Orang-orang yang memiliki anggapan tersebut tidak menyadari bahwa pendidikan Islam modern di negara-negara timur menggunakan model barat; universitas-universitas Islam di timur juga mau mengikuti hasil pertemuan-pertemuan Bologna Process. Gus Dur adalah lulusan Universitas Baghdad dan Quraish Shihab lulusan Universtas Al-Azhar di Kairo. Mereka belajar di perguruan tinggi Arab. Mengapa mereka tidak pernah dicap sebagai ke-Arab-Araban?

Selain dianggap kebarat-baratan, para pemikir liberal tersebut juga dianggap sekuler, walaupun mereka selalu menonjolkan identitas agama mereka, sering melakukan ceremah-ceramah yang sangat berbau agama dan mengajar di perguruan tinggi Islam. Lagi pula, apa kita bisa menjamin bahwa para penentang Islam liberal rajin shalat lima waktu, berzakat, berpuasa setiap Ramadhan, tidak meminum miras dan tidak melakukan hubungan seks di luar nikah?

Citra-citra yang dipaparkan Syahrin Harahap, walaupun mengacu pada orang-orang asing, juga sangatlah lumrah di masyarakat Indonesia. Kita masih suka memberikan cap-cap hitam-putih terhadap sesama, tanpa menyadari bahwa manusia jauh lebih rumit dari pada yang kita ingin bayangkan. Saya juga merasa bahwa Syahrin Harahap menggunakan pendekatan yang salah terhadap permasalahan ini.

Saya menghargai bahwa beliau mau mengakui bahwa umat Islam memiliki masalah dengan fundamentalisme. Tetapi, pada saat yang bersamaan, beliau juga terkesan menyalahkan munculnya fundamentalisme kepada kekuatan dari luar umat dengan mengatakan bahwa Islam adalah agama yang penuh kedamaian.

Sebagai seorang Muslim, saya juga ingin percaya itu. Tetapi, pada kenyataannya, orang-orang beraliran keras tersebut sepenuhnya yakin bahwa paham mereka sesuai dengan ajaran agama. Kita harus menerima kemungkinan bahwa agama yang kita cintai sangatlah jauh dari sempurna.

Saya setuju dengan usulan beliau bahwa penyelesaian masalah aliran garis keras ini dapat dihadapi dengan mengajari para siswa ilmu kajian globalisasi (p. 43). Memang betul bahwa aliran tersebut lahir di luar Indonesia dan menyebar dari satu negara ke negara lainnya. Tetapi, ilmu tersebut tidak mencakup tentang cara penyebarluasan aliran tersebut di satu tempat.

Saya mengusulkan agar umat Islam di Indonesia, termasuk kalangan moderat, untuk bermawas diri tentang cara kita menafsirkan ajaran-ajaran agama dan cara kita memerlakukan orang lain, terutama yang berbeda pandangan. Walaupun kalangan moderat memang tidak pernah menghasut kekerasan dan diskriminasi, kecenderungan mereka untuk mengkafirkan kalangan liberal dan tidak mengakui Islam sebagai ilham aliran keras sudah memberikan dampak buruk yang jelas-jelas sudah bermunculan dan mungkin akan berkepanjangan.

Suka atau tidak, kalangan moderat secara tidak langsung juga bertanggung jawab atas ketidakadilan yang dialami Ahok.

 

Badan Pusat Statistik 2010, Hasil sensus penduduk 2010: kewarganegaraan, suku bangsa, agama dan bahasa sehari-sehari penduduk Indonesia, BPS, Jakarta.

Badan Pusat Statistik 2014, Statistik Indonesia 2016, BPS, Jakarta.

Badan Pusat Statistik 2015, Statistik Indonesia 2015, BPS, Jakarta.

Badan Pusat Statistik 2016, Statistik Indonesia 2016, BPS, Jakarta.

Harahap, S 2016, ‘The image of Indonesia in the world: an interreligious perspective’, The IUP journal of international relations, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 30-44.

Saluz, CN 2009, ‘Youth and pop culture in Indonesian Islam’, Studia Islamika, vol. 16. no. 2, pp. 215-242.

Rogue One: (un)appreciation of heroism (a very late review)

*spoiler alert*

star-wars-rogue-one-cast.jpg

This is literally my first Star Wars film. I wasn’t interested in the franchise. If I want to try new art and entertainment, I focus on the premise rather than its celebrity or cult status. Honestly, Star Wars’ premise doesn’t interest me.

Basically, it’s another case of good vs. evil. The marginalised vs. the powerful ones. Battle scenes. I know I sound ignorant. But, that’s the impression I get from the film. Correct me if I am wrong. Of course, I still have other reasons to try the franchise.

First of all, Harry Potter’s not a completely original franchise either. It has traits shared by many other stories. But, I’ve been a pothead for years and I can see myself as one in the future. If I can love derivative HP, why not Star Wars?

Also, Star Wars is sci-fi. I have a soft spot for speculative genres. From my lenses, they can get deep easily and unpretentiously. I like that. I can’t stand self-righteous entertainment. Another reason to try Star Wars.

So, when I had the chance to watch it, I took it. Not disappointed at all.

Quality wise, it’s unexceptional. K-2SO is the only character that I like. The human ones don’t attract me. I’m neither annoyed nor compelled by them. That hinders the immersion. But, the most important aspect of the film is its ending….which makes me conflicted.

It is supposed to be sad. But, the emotions existed briefly before immediately swept under the rug. Like, why? Our heroes are dead. They die before they reach the happy ending. I should not have feelings about that? Seriously? What are they? Chopped liver? Why don’t the filmmakers celebrate the deaths as well? Oh, look! Dead heroes! Woohoooo!! Pop the champagne!!

*takes a deep breath*
As much as frustrating it is, the film’s a good reminder that every revolution demands sacrifice. The living heroes have it nicer. They live to enjoy seeing their causes becoming reality, unlike their dead predecessors.

Okay, I know how it sounds like. In reality, I am genuinely grateful of their heroic efforts. I really do. But, I also credit their predecessors for starting the movements. Without them, our living heroes probably wouldn’t have a colossal cause to fight for.

I believe franchises like Star Wars need prequels. They unveil the origin stories, show how everything started. If not prequels, at least insert fictional history lessons in the original stories. Don’t dwell too much on the present. Explore the past well.

If I dare to say this to some people, they would roll their eyes (and I hope they got stuck) and say profoundly pragmatic things like “why does it matter?”, “it’s just entertainment!” and “why can’t you just be dumbed down like us?” My respond would be this:

Why doesn’t it matter?

I have said this countless times before and I will said it again: I love lowbrow entertainment. I really do. I believe it’s morally and intellectually acceptable to unwind with pure escapism. But, indulging in escapism in your every waking second is self-destructive.

Sooner or later, you have to dwell on the inescapable reality. You are in it, whether you like it or not. This can be encouraged by inserting depth to popular entertainment, no matter how subtle it is.

In the case of Rogue One, it’s about knowing the Jedis’ earliest efforts (God, I hope I got the info right). You will never fully appreciate their movement (is that the right word?) unless you learn about the history.

You would learn how and why it started, about everything the movement went through and its evolution from then to now. The movement in its present form doesn’t tell you the full story and that can lead to ignorance.

The people. Don’t forget about them. You would also learn about the sacrifices they made. Be grateful that you don’t have to endure what they went through, that you can enjoy the privilege which weren’t available then.

I know, I know. Star Wars isn’t real. But, one has to acknowledge that it resembles real life phenomenons. Notice the parallel, immerse in it and we’ll be more insightful about our reality. Try harder and we can make our world a better place.

It seems my teenage idealism still lingers…

Oh and one more thing. My statement about esteeming heroes sounds patriotic. It can be applied to the context of fighting for national independence. But, that was not what I had in mind.

I was thinking about something more internal. The fight for more rights for the marginalised ones, honourable governance and even better living conditions. They may seem trivial. But, they also involve heroic individuals. In some cases, they do suffer from violence. Not all heroes are soldiers.

Admittedly, those internal issues can intertwine with patriotism as well.

That girl

(My first proper attempt at poetry writing)

That girl is as thin as toothpick

And has an ex who is a prick

More massive than a pumpkin

And poorer than a country bumpkin

Her brother hates parliament

Despite being the king of argument

Really hates soccer

and he himself a sucker

Her mom loves steak

Chinese zodiac is snake

So senior

Not a keeper

Her husky is snowy whitey

Abominable like Yeti

Her first cat was so catty

Like the brother, also fatty

Traits of bigots (that I have noticed so far)

1. They don’t see the harm in their bigotry.

They cannot see why dehumanising “the others” would be damaging. For them, bigotry is just a politically-incorrect hobby to kill time, like wildlife hunting.

2. Sometimes, they see the benefits in it.

They believe the dehumanisation would do good for everyone. “The others”, AKA “not humans”, would either cease to exist or change themselves and satify the bigots’ insecurity. It’s mutualism, they say.

3. They want others to be like them.

Naturally, those two traits release their inner activists. They are either confused or outraged that others don’t partake in their bigotry.

4. They play the victim cards.

They believe “the others” oppress them with the differences; again, it is all about insecurity. They also cry oppression when getting called out, whining about losing freedom.

5. They commit psychological projection.

Naturally, the victim card encourages it. They accuse their critics, not themselves, as bigots.

….

I labeled people as bigots, not realising I was also one. The awakening is a major slap to my face…and I know I will have it again. Of course, that doesn’t mean all of my negative views of “the others” are prejudicial; they may just be politically incorrect. Before finger-pointing, analysing one’s self first.

STEM vs. Humanities

Why “versus”? Why not STEM and Humanities? What makes us think we only need one? We need both.

STEM provide us the proper outlook to observe our material world. Humanities provide us the proper outlook to to observe the abstract one. STEM issue us the manuals for assembling instruments that ease and strengthen our lives. Humanities guide us in solving complex societal issues. But, not only we need them, they also need each other.

STEM need Humanities for ethical guidance, inspiring societal interest, understanding their purposes, their roles in societies and their own history. Humanities need STEM as a source of self-improvement, debunking wobbly theories. Humanities also need the technologies which can document and circulate the knowledge. STEM and Humanities are yin and yang.

They lay out two distinctive but equally well-reasoned outlooks on life. Whether we pick both, either one or neither, it is up to us. I am going to sound pretentious here. But, if we thrive to grasp our life better (which we should), it is sensible to pick both. Picking one is like flying with one wing. Picking neither is like flying with no wings.

Vote!

*puts on a mask*

There are two good reasons why you need to always vote:

1. Voting makes you look contributive.

It doesn’t matter if you actually aren’t. If your vote turned into vampiric leeches who suck the blood of the people until they shrivelled up like dried fruits, Don’t worry. It is indeed your fault. But, you can blame it on the non-voters, who didn’t contribute anything to the country’ demise.

2. Voting makes you look intelligent and informed.

Again, it doesn’t matter if you actually aren’t. It is okay to use the “vote for the lesser evil” argument, which is a nice way of saying “vote for evil is good and no vote is evil”. It is okay to be effortlessly duped by politicians. It is even okay to know nothing about what you vote for…just like the genius Brits who voted for Brexit and were disappointed when it won.

Many voters are guilty of them and yet their image are still wrongly blemished (reminds me of corrupt politicians who got revoted over and over again). I think we should thank one group of people: the unbelievably naive imbeciles. Those critters, who are still influential, are naive about what it takes to be good citizens. They still believe we have to always vote, no matter how poorly-informed we are about the choices and/or how obscene they are. Thanks to them, genuinely repellent voters still have good reputation. If you want it, be one.

*takes off the mask*