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There are many good things and bad things from this current trip. However I’ll save the good things for later, and for now, I’ll write about the bad things I’ve encountered in Indonesia.
Indonesian TV: Disgusting and Distasteful
I have heard a lot of bad things about Indonesian TV, from lousy sinetrons, gory crime reportage, to invasive gossip shows. But I have never really watched them because I tried to avoid them, not wanting to waste my time. However, this time around in Indonesia, I came across with the worst piece of TV “journalism” I have ever seen.
What ticked me off is the reportage of the death of the comedian Taufik Savalas due to road accident. Indeed it was a sad loss for the comedy industry in Indonesia, as he is a good comedian and a good personality as well. He appears to be a sincere, charitable person and a loving family man. But the ten minutes TransTV reportage on his death made me want to kick the TV set.
TransTV made an exclusive story covering the reaction of Savalas’ family members in a very insensitive manner. It began with a group of TransTV crews arriving in Savalas residence close to midnight. They said that they were looking for Savalas. Obviously, the TV crews knew about Savalas’s death or at least the accident, why else would they be coming to the house? But Savalas’ wife clearly did not know anything happening with her husband as she had just arrived home from a prayer gathering. Hence the TV crews are saving the bad news from her. She showed the TV crew the last SMS that she received from Savalas, and said that she hadn’t received any reply since then.
Then the wife kindly allowed the TV crews to enter into the house. Minutes later, the wife received the sad news about Savalas’s death at her cellphone and it was clearly unexpected for her. She began to cry and fainted at the staircase. The whole house began to cry, and one person repeatedly asked the reporter to turn off the camera as it is a very sad and private moment to the family. BUT THE DAMN TRANS TV NEWS REPORTERS KEEP SHOOTING THE ENTIRE SCENE OF THE WIFE’S SADNESS. They even swarmed into the staircase to get a close-up look of the wife fainted reaction. Then the household staff carried the wife onto the second floor, trying to wake her up from the faint, and the TV crews keep following her. Minutes later, Savalas’ mother arrived, head covered with scarf but still wearing her sleeping gown. She clearly did not have the time to change clothes upon receiving the sad news. She was crying all the way from the car to the house, AND THE CAMERAS KEEP SHOOTING HER CLOSE-UP!
It was really distasteful and insensitive. IT WAS CLEARLY AN INVASION OF PRIVACY, AND I DARE TO SAY, HUMAN RIGHT ABUSE FOR THE SAKE OF SELLING TV SHOW. For God’s sake, the family is in mourning!
This is exactly what happened during Chrisye's burial as well, as Jockie wrote:
“Sinting sekali….! Ada seorang kerabat almarhum ibu-ibu tua (cukup berumur) yang sedang duduk dikursi dia berteriak kesakitan karena kakinya terjepit (terdorong) oleh kerumunan orang-orang infotainment yang meringsek memaksa mendekati liang lahat. Seketika itu juga keponakan saya berinisyatif menarik tangan kerabat almarhum tersebut agar tidak terjadi kejadian yang lebih parah. Istri sayapun berseru agar jangan mendorong-dorong, karena didepan sudah sangat sempit: hormati dan kasihanilah anggauta keluarga yang sedang berduka…, imbuhnya. Terbayangkan..kah oleh kita semua? jawaban yang ‘asal’ dari mulut mereka? “ya… kasihanilah kita juga dong… bu, kalau engga kan ngga bisa makan… palingan juga ketiban kamera…“, cerocosnya masa bodoh seolah tak ada sesuatu yang salah. Mereka tidak peduli bahwa hanya berjarak beberapa meter dari lokasi, prosesi pemakaman baru saja selesai.
It is not a piece of journalism at all. I became really angry and literally put away my sight from the TV set during the afternoon news coverage.
Upon watching the reportage, I began to empathize with the so-called celebrities. They are constantly being chased with the gossip show reporters, even at the expense of their privacy. Those reporters are really insensitive and distasteful.
I don’t understand why the Indonesian reportage is focusing much on the emotional aspect of a piece of news rather than getting factual things across. I also saw the news of the student bus plunging 25 meter down the bridge, and much of the reportage was about the gory aspect and the crying reaction of family member rather than investigating the cause and chronology of the event. Is it because emotion sells on TV more than facts? I think it does not educate the people and instead it just sells sensation and emotion. Basically it’s not news at all, a far cry from BBC reporting, of course.
But the problem is, there will be no improvement if the demand is still there. So, should we just blame the mass, follow the market force, or take the authoritarian stance to ban such TV show? I don’t see any alternatives.
Also I’d just say this to the celebrities: YOU DO NOT NEED THOSE GOSSIP SHOW REPORTERS. BE TOUGH ON THEM, DO NOT RESPOND TO THEM. If you are indeed a good entertainer and a good artist, it will show based on its own merit. You do not need to be covered by the paparazzi. Well, if we can’t do anything about the demand side, let’s tackle the supply side.
Behaviour in Public Place
I’d iike to emphasise that I experienced good things related to people’s behaviour in Indonesia, but let me save this for later. However, there are also bad things related to people’s behaviour in public place that ticked me off during this visit, but I guess I have to just accept it as local Indonesian culture. Part of the problem is perhaps, I have lived outside Indonesia for too long, hence my critical opinion about these behaviours.
The first thing that sets my red alert is the fact that people seemed to smoke anytime anywhere, despite me (obviously pregnant) and Noe being around them. Sadly this includes my family members. Somehow Indonesians are unable to see the bad of cigarettes.
I personally think that cigarettes are worse than narcotics or drugs. This is because cigarettes affect people around the smokers and it induces secondhand smoking. On the other hand, drugs only affect the users. Therefore I don’t understand why the Islamic cleric ban drugs but not cigarettes. Personally my aunt is badly affected as second-hand smoker. Her husband smokes a lot, even in the bedroom, which was airconditioned. This husband died of lung cancer (obviously). Sadly, years later, my aunt was discovered of having a bad case of lung cancer as well, despite being a non-smoker.
The second thing that ticked me off is the inability to queue. I was so stressed out in check in area Terminal 1 Soekarno Hatta because everybody cut queue. And if people do queue, they do it in such a way that they stick into my ass and keep shoving me to the front. My mother in-law’s toes got hit by a heavy trolley because people were cutting queue. And I couldn’t do anything because I’m a woman, pregnant, carrying a big suitcase and a toddler. This is a far cry from the treatment I got in Narita airport, where I was able to get priority treatment for carrying a toddler.
Other thing that ticked me off is how people are throwing out small trash anywhere. This includes my family members. Things like dirty paper napkin, cigarette butt, or candy wrap, people just let them slip through the finger and once it reaches the ground, they ignore it.
I guess for all these aspects of people’s behaviour in public place, because it is what majority of people are doing. In this aspect, I appreciate Singapore more than Indonesia. But as an Indonesian, I just have to accept it and adapt to it as a cultural thing. I just keep my own little “Singaporean” way of doing things but do nothing to make Indonesian people change, because it’s Indonesian culture anyway.