This is a reprint from a rant I wrote to the Jakarta Post. It made the front page.
Luna Maya is right- gossip and exploitation “reality” television shows really are produced by rotten animals.
Recently, in a crowded Padang restaurant, I was forced to watch a typical “reality” drama, which I believe was called “Nothing Lasts Forever.” Hosted by two presenters, Sluggo Dimwit, and his moll, Mega Wet-eyes, their job in this episode was to reunite a reformed street thug (fresh out of prison) with his family and former loved ones.
Sounds endearing, right? Not at all. The actual show consisted of the ex-thug and the tv crew of six people, barging into unsuspecting relatives homes and scaring the hell out of everyone. Mayhem was bound to ensue: there was shouting and crying and bad blood all around. The ex-thug’s old Ibu was accidentally knocked down to the floor in a scuffle between him and his dad. It was very shocking and grotesque- and I imagine that’s why they repeated Ibu’s fall, five more times, in slow motion; her jilbab fluttering in the wind as she hits the floor. (Later in the show, Ibu is seen chasing her son down the street with a big stick.)
Throughout this whole “reality”, dramatic music is used heighten the tense situation. (I believe they were using the “Gladiator” movie soundtrack for this one. Hollywood should sue.)
The use of the show’s presenters is slick and cynical. Sluggo, the main presenter was obviously hired because he’s handsome and can raise his right eyebrow to look “quizzically concerned.” At first, you think he’s just trying to help, but in reality he urges the family feud to more violent heights by careful urging and provocative questions. What Sluggo really wants is blood; he’s a vampire in sheep’s clothing. A home wrecker disguised as a caring human being.
Studios and production houses love these shows because they’re easy and cheap to produce. It’s the lazy man’s way to high ratings.
However, the damage they inflict upon Indonesian society is great. This country, renowned for it’s polite and discreet manners, is being told that’s it’s okay to betray your family’s trust and privacy for the sake of a few bucks. Indonesian children are watching and they will grow up with these new values.
Perhaps the scariest thing is, that at any moment, a television crew could come to YOUR house with the purpose of exposing you or you family’s dirty underwear! So therefore, I have devised a plan that will save you, should ever a sleazy tv crew push it’s way into your home, intending to damage your life in front of millions. Just follow this simple procedure and all should be well:
First, the television presenter cannot leave your house alive. Use a kitchen knife, sate stick, karate chop... whatever is at hand. Do it quickly, and make sure the presenter’s really dead (they’re actors, you know) because he/she is the last person you want testifying at your trial, on television, looking quizzically concerned. Better he is quizzically dead. You can always claim self defense.
Next, the cameraman can live but the video camera must be annihilated. I suggest snatching it and throwing it into the mandi. Producers will think twice about sending ambush “reality” crews into a stranger’s house when they know they may lose a 50 million rupiah camera. Bash it to pieces if you have to. And believe me, the production house will mourn the dead camera a lot more than the dead actor you’ve just killed.
If murder is not your bag, then there is an easier, and certainly safer, way to protect yourself from a home invasion, with the added plus that you will help clean up Indonesia’s air waves at the same time.
Forget angry letters to the production house or the television studios. They don’t care. They’re too busy counting their money. Besides, they’re not the ones funding this garbage. It’s the advertisers: the shampoo, soap, cigarette, drug, face whitening, children’s candy, and instant noodle companies. They are the real sugar-daddies.
So don’t buy their shampoo and let them know why. Tell all your friends to boycott these products. Start a Facebook page dedicated to “outing” advertisers that fund these pornographic and exploitative trash shows. (It is well known you can fit the courage of typical marketer into the belly-button of a flea and still have room for his heart.) Panic will ensue and the guilty show will lose it’s sponsors and go off air so fast, it’ll make your eyes hurt. You will win. You will be an Indonesian hero. And that’s the real reality.
But sharpen your sate sticks, just in case.