A Millennial’s Impression on 60-years-old Tiga Dara

Ini film zaman dulu kak, hitam putih. Beneran mau?“, the box office attendant asked in disbelief upon my request to purchase tickets for matinee show of the restored 1956’s Tiga Dara (Three Sisters).

It seemed like the sight of millennials siblings going into cinemas to watch an archaic black and white movie was not something that that attendant anticipated.

But I am sold the moment I knew, from Alex Sihar’s talk in TEDxJakarta, about how this evergreen musical  from the legendary Usmar Ismail put a foundation in pop culture scene of Indonesia. The influence of the movie was so profound to the older generation, perhaps the impact was equivalent to my generation’s Petualangan Sherina, if not more. It is said that people of that era were so infatuated by the casts, music, and fashion of the movie.

As the title suggests, Tiga Dara tells a story about three sisters whose love life are somehow intertwined. The three sisters named Nunung, Nana, and Neni lived with their father and grandmother. After their mother’s passing, the eldest Nunung took care of the family’s chores.

At the age of 29, the grandmother exhorted Nunung to marry a man of her choice. But since the introverted Nunung was not seeing anyone, the grandmother set a plan with a help of the father and two other sisters to find a man for Nunung, who gave a lukewarm response to this crazy idea.

One morning, a man named Mas Totok came into Nunung’s life through a fortuitous encounter at the market. Although at first Nunung was so aloof, Mas Totok stole not only Nunung’s heart but also Nana’s. Being the youngest one, Neni came up with a comical scenario to solve the love triangles between Nunung, Nana, and Mas Totok.

I learned from this film that even though decades have changed, marriage in Indonesia is still seen as a family affair rather than a personal choice. The grandmother personified the old generation who sees marriage as a means to complete one’s life. Meanwhile, Nunung and her father represent the younger and more progressive generation who sees marriage as a choice rather than an obligation.

We witness how Nunung, who was a year short of turning 30, had to deal with societal pressure to get married before turning 30. The sheer pressure did not hinder Nunung from voicing out her own aspiration. It is impressive to see how women at that era are already depicted opinionated and take full control of their life. This view, in my opinion, should be retained in today’s films.

The music of this movie was beautifully composed by Saiful Bahri whose works were pretty much influenced by the traditional music of Melayu and swing. As the restoration team could not locate the whereabouts of the original record, they decide to re-record the songs with today’s musical talents such as Sari Sartje, Bonita, Monita, Danilla, Mondo Gascaro, and many more, arranged by the talented Indra Perkasa.

Considered as the trailblazer of Indonesian pop culture at its time, Tiga Dara has recruited a whole new generation of fans in its come-back. I am definitely one of them.

Sebelum Kita Ditelan Jakarta

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commuting in Jakarta

 

Apa yang harus kulakukan,
Sebelum kita ditelan Jakarta?
Tenggelam dalam gelombang riuh
Bising derap langkah kaki manusia
Duniamu yang utuh dan tak pernah bisa kusentuh
Duniaku yang tak pernah utuh, sebelum ku sempat memilikimu
Keduanya pernah terbentang pada satu ruang dan waktu
Hanya terpisah jarak selemparan batu
Sekuat tenaga kucoba mengayuh
Perahuku tak pernah bersauh di tempatmu
Ingin kutanyakan ini padamu
Apa yang harus kulakukan
Sebelum kita ditelan Jakarta?
“Mengenalku lebih jauh”
Kuharap itu jawabmu.

(Inspired by the overcrowdedness of Jakarta that does not allow two people to get to know or meet each other by chance)

“Your Social Media’s Feed Is My #LifeGoal?”

A brown-haired young girl, dragging a small black suitcase and followed by a trail of entourage, cafehopped in a quest of finding a picturesque place to conduct her photo shoot session. Once in between one fancy place to another, we catch a good glimpse of the girl’s love life as she and her boyfriend exchanged curses in the local language at one time and stole kisses at the other time. That very scene is enough to drive their massive following base on social media crazy and start to comment: #CoupleGoals or #RelationshipGoals.

Generation Z (people who were born in end 90s and 2000s) love the brown-haired girl. She obviously knows and is being smart about this. At the opposite end, some other people hate her, accusing her of being an awful role model and a product of bad upbringing. But who cares? at the end of the day you are not famous enough if you do not have haters coming on your way. The more fame she earns, the more online shops hire her to do social media endorsement. That black suitcase that the girl carried around is full of of products waiting to be shot and modeled by the girl in endorsements on social media.

In real life, the girl is not a famous movie star nor a pop star who graces your TV and magazine. “Excuse us, what is TV and what is it……ma..ga..zine??“, say a member of generation Z at the background. She is just a “regular” Indonesian girl who happens to be a social media savvy, if not a genius. I watched her story in a 37-minutes-long video blog (vlog) that has been viewed for almost 400k in a mere 5 days. With a little touch of rebellious side in her feed, which draws attention of her young audience, she manages to garner hundreds thousands of followers on social media.

Despite of being shunned for her non conventional demeanor (a little background about Indonesia: in our society girls are expected to be all covered up and demure by avoiding to curse in a public setting, well I know it is unfair since guys can curse), she offers a kind of lifestyle that perhaps Generation Z secretly long to have. I am not in any capacity to morally judge that aspiration but this girl can capture her audience’s aspiration and deliver what the audience crave for through her social media content, whether she does it deliberately or not.

The unprecedented shift in media consumption, as evidenced by more time spent on internet rather than on TV/ print media, has given birth to social media personas such as the girl with the brown-haired girl. I tell you she is not the only one. In Indonesia it is common to find out what seem to be regular people in real life have thousands to hundred thousands of followers on social media. There is one thing that these social media personas share in common, their picture perfect life is something that most Indonesians are not privileged to have a taste of. The relevance factor, in this case, is built from aspiration instead of proximity. These social media people are not people with whom Gen Z can identify themselves but rather a clique of cool people whom Gen Z aspire to be.

At another picture, the girl is shown hugging her boyfriend, both are dressed in Calvin Klein undergarment perhaps to mimic the famous ad of the undergarment brand. In a society that has a very high standard of modesty and is keen to judge, it takes a big courage to post a picture of yourself in underwear, let alone with your boyfriend. Had it been taken by common teenagers, the picture would have been frowned upon and been a subject of bad talks. Yet, the girl’s post is still flocked with comments of #BodyGoals or #RelationshipGoals.

This strikes me, does the girl’s social media feed embody the aspiration of her followers that everything she does becomes a #LifeGoal of her followers? If so, I guess we are in a dire need to start proliferating the idea of social media literacy.

The City of Contradiction

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One morning at Kebayoran station 

Jakarta is overflown by contradiction that I can have too many of them and still do not describe this Big Durian in justice. The nickname itself, Big Durian, in fact reflects the contradiction that the city has, which leaves whoever have set their feet in the land of Jakarta either love it or hate it, no in between. With the size of the area that is smaller than other mega-cities such as New York City or Tokyo, Jakarta is vast enough for anyone to not run into each other without attempting to hide because the never ending wave of people and vehicles passing by already does the job. Sounds like a perfect destination to get over someone? If so, you probably are of “team Jakarta”. But I can tell that this town is not a place to fall for someone because you will find it hard to be with the loved one at most of your time.

I often think to myself that life in this city often forces us to spend more time with strangers than people we wish we could talk to all day long. This is another contradiction of Jakarta that people we surround ourselves with are not necessarily ones with whom we want to spend time. This should not be such an issue in the close-knit town where we bump into each other quite often or in the city with less severe traffic issue that you will always be in 5 minutes drive away from your significant others. But this is a totally different story here in Jakarta.

A Jakartan approximately spends 400 hours of commuting per year according to a research, which indicates that people waste a significant chunk of their time away from anyone they find dear in their heart. In those wasted hours they spend more time with strangers than with their significant others.

Again, I think to myself (yes I do this a lot) that actually these people are not entirely strangers since being stuck on the Jakarta street itself actually shapes the same field of experience, not to mention surviving the concrete jungle of Jakarta.  We are not strangers to each other, we just happen to have not talked to each other yet. Perhaps, as one of us throws a topic of conversation, we will discover mutual interests to talk about until we finally disembark at our own destination. These “strangers” we meet will not, by any means, replace the presence of ones we go home to, but for an hour or two they are friends with whom we kill time amidst the congested street of Jakarta.

But, I myself have not done and have a little likelihood to ever doing so. I lost counts on days I find myself so worn out that I don’t want to end up in small talk with people I know nothing about. Days when I just nod politely to whatever a stranger next to me talks about. I believe, this not only happens to me but also to thousands, if not millions, people of Jakarta. That explains the silence I hear on the public transportation as the day ends because silence is the language that we all speak of in exhaustion. As much as we need human-to-human interaction, we choose to be quiet or engrossed with our gadget after the day consumes us.  Strangers become strangers, we miss out an opportunity to be connected and choose to be disconnected in a crowded place. But worry not, everybody there is disconnected and missed-out on each other, therefore no one actually loses.

Ah, I suppose that I have just written another contradiction of Jakarta. We actually need and want each other, but we seem to act like we do not

 

An Evening with Sarah and Phil

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Sarah and Phil! I was at the front row and couldn’t believe that I share the same air with them.

Witnessing a beautiful performance for the very first time has never failed to leave an unerased wonderful feeling carved somewhere in the heart. I remember how I felt like being transported to another part of the world upon listening to a live orchestra for the very first time at the event held by the music school that I attended a long time ago. I was profoundly touched by all the sounds that the ensemble manage to produce, as it was totally different from anything that I have listened to as a kid.

That beautiful kind of feeling is revived when I witnessed a spoken word gig of Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye. I am by no means a newbie to this kind of art form as I have been watching Sarah’s performance on Youtube since 2011. Sarah and Phil in many ways have also influenced the way I write some entries for this blog, but seeing them live is a completely different story as I feel like meeting an old friend who shares stories about her life.

Sarah and Phil met for the first time as total strangers when they were freshmen at Brown. With a lot of things in common to share, such as a fondness for spoken words poetry, sibling’s name, family’s background, and even last name, they soon formed a dynamic duo whose works have touched so many hearts all across the world. This strange coincidence is told through a poem named “The Origin Story”, a kind of poem that will make everyone grinning while at the same time pondering about how universe sets us to meet a person so similar to us.

Sarah is a brilliant observer indeed. During the gig, she often threw jokes that are based on their observation when travelling the world to teach and to perform spoken poem. Both Sarah and Phil have also a rather exceptional ability to capture everyday feelings into a beautifully said and written words. I was totally blown away when Sarah finished reciting “The Type”, a poem that she wrote for a best friend who was involved in an abusive relationship. I could feel her emotion and how she trembled as she read the poem out loud. Same thing for Phil, I giggled when he delivered a poem telling us about how he gave up his celibacy. It was so funny as if it was told by my own friend.

At the end of the gig, Phil and Sarah were kind enough to spare some time for book signing session. I managed to get their signs, talked with Phil for a little bit, and took a picture with both of them.

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Promoting Changes

It will not take a long time for one to list down dozens reasons to hate advertising. Some reasons will be for being interruptive, selling unattainable aspirations, fuelling consumerism, and not to mention perpetuating gender stereotype. For the last mentioned, we are all aware of how, for example, many ads depict household chores or child care as solely women’s responsibilities which at the end do not lift any double burden that women have been living with.

This is quite ironic that even though those said ads are addressed to win female audience’s heart, they do not come with messages that women can benefit from. Well, perhaps there is a reason why ad makers are notably nicknamed “mad men” instead of “mad women”, as the industry has been dominantly running by male there is a lack of female’s perspective in advertising works. As a result, ads rarely display empowering message about where women can be if they do not hit the glass ceiling.

However, my faith in pro-equality ads is quite restored as I witness a growing wave of femvertising, which is defined by SheKnows Media as advertising that is pro female talent, messages, and imagery to empower women. This also assures me that there is a rising awareness towards equality among male fellows since despite of the ad industry is still dominantly led by male just like any other industries; it starts to do good by crafting pro-equality stories. The daring and fresh approach is paid off as those femvertising ads stand-out and create buzz. Some even received industry accolades just recently like campaigns named “Share the Load” and “Like A Girl”.

Quite a nice surprise to find out one of campaigns that I mentioned earlier is coming from India, a country which in 2012 was dubbed by Thomson Reuters Foundation as the worst place among other G20 countries to be women. In spite of being an economic powerhouse, it seems like the country has not progressed in the division of labour at home, as a survey shows 76 percent of Indian men perceive laundry as women’s duty (and now I start to wonder how many percentage it is in Indonesia). And that leaves 2/3 of Indian women feel their man of the house are not helping any domestic works. Starting off from that insight, “Share the Load”, which is a campaign of a detergent brand, is built around,

As its name suggests, “Share the Load” asks men to share the workload of household chores that used to be single-handedly handled by their wives. On the 30 second spot of TV commercial, a senior citizen is seen discussing about her daughter in law who earns more than his son. On the background, the in law is preparing herself for work while her husband suddenly appears asking her to finish the laundry. This scene satirizes a finding that states 85% of women in India feels like having double jobs, one at the workplace and the other one is at home. At the end of 30 second spot a question of “Is Laundry Only A Woman’s Job?” closes the TVC and becomes a hashtag that lightens up social media conversation.

Without straying far from what the product is all about, “Share the Load” brings muted voices of their female target audience to the surface, as this campaign encourages female audience to ask their man to at least do the laundry. It is not too much of a request but still considerably bold as many people still consider the role of homemaker as a part of women’s nature.

As I wrote earlier, another campaign that can be categorized as femvertising is “Like A Girl” which has stolen many major advertising awards and described by Huffington Post as ground-breaking. Indeed, this campaign is not a typical feminine pad brand advertisements which chooses to exploit women’s insecurities for being on period with the purpose of branding the pad as the saviour of confidence.

Coming from a premise that girls’ confidence plummets as they hit puberty (probably at the time of first menstruation and first feminine pad purchase), “Like A Girl” seems to slap everyone right in their face as, if we are asked to act “like a girl”, most of us will most likely to act the way the subjects of this social experimental ad. It is shown in the ad, when asking to run or to hit like a girl, many grown up girls or boys make sassy and frail gesture, as if the phrase of “like a girl” is an insult. Never do we realize that phrase “like a girl” is a subconscious synonym to being weak and incapable. The same phrase is responded differently by pre puberty girls who run and hit with all their strength.

This social experimental ad is nothing new in the realm of advertising, another well-known example is Dove’s Beauty Sketch which also happens to be femvertising, but still manages to be so thought-provoking as it resonates with what audiences regardless their gender. For example, we often see how an effeminate boy tends to be the object of peers’ bully rather than a tomboy school girl, as if having feminine traits are disgraces while masculine traits are not.

“Share the Load” and “Like A Girl” are two among few advertising campaigns that promote gender issue. As these femvertising campaigns were rolled out by giant corporations and are believed to impact the brand’s bottom line, many are critical or even cynical about it. One of them is Meredith Fineman who wrote her concern in Harvard Business Review, she said that inauthentic support cheapens the idea of female movement and turn female power into a mere commodity. Whether these campaigns are genuinely made to do good or just a shift of marketing tactics will be another interesting topic to talk about.

However, from the brighter side, advertising possess a power to shape the culture of society as evidenced by how society obsess over a particular standard of beauty or masculinity that the ads build. Thus, instead of perpetuating the status quo, advertisement is also able to promote changes.

What to say when one has too many “what ifs” about his career?

People say that time does fly so fast when we have tons of fun. I am quite agree, to add something to that, time flies at the speed of a jet when you have an equal share of fun and doubt. I can write that sentence because that is what I feel after realizing I have officially worked for a year in my current agency (Yey! Happy work-niversary). As I previously said there were some, if not a lot, of times when I doubted of what I do, thinking that I should be doing something else.

Just like other generation Y, I feel entitled to the sweetest piece of the cake that the world has to offer. I spent 4 years at college working my ass off for the sake of having sufficient GPA and strong resume so that I can land a job in a household-name company where I have a very cool and hip position that everyone dreams of.

Yet, after college came to the end I found my self starting at the bottom of a digital agency which no one seems familiar with. I am not saying that the agency I work for is bad, in fact it is a subsidiary of the biggest advertising company in the world and they pay entry level way above the industry’s standard, but there are a lot of times when I ask life: why don’t I end up somewhere else? (as though this wasn’t a good place to be in. I tend to forget all the good things about my job, such as it teaches me a skill that I will always carry along throughout my marketing-advertising career which are “listening” to your customers and measuring your marketing endeavor)

There are a lot of “what ifs” flying over my head:

1. What if this is not a strong place to start my dream career?
2. What if I stop growing after doing the same thing over and over again?
3. What if I don’t make enough impact to anyone?
4. What if I learn less than my friends in other companies? (this is what I fear the most)

There are too many “what ifs” going on because  the last thing that I want to see is me not making big enough in life. I am a competitive person, by nature and by nurture, thus I always want to be in the environment where everybody is dying to get in or at least be at the top of everything that I am doing. Being a mediocre really tortures me that I prefer to feel consumed in a very cut throat environment rather than to feel safe everyday.

I think to myself and I find answers that, at least, can temporarily mute all the “what ifs”. Here you go!

1. What if this is not a strong place to start my dream career?
Let’s admit that this is not the hottest industry nor a place that everyone dreams of working for, but this place is good enough to teach me some basic skills that I need. Instead of daydreaming about being somewhere else, I should be at the present moment and soak up all the things around me as fast as I can. Learn this basic skills until you are ready for something greater.

2. What if I stop growing after doing the same thing over and over again?
Even if that happens, I should not blame anyone for that because the person who is responsible for my own growth is myself. I work in digital where nothing constant but changes, thus I should keep myself updated with the latest information or best practices in the industry.

3. What if I don’t make enough impact to anyone?
Before asking: “Am I making impact to the world?” why don’t ask myself: “Am I making impact to people around me, especially my team at work?”.  I know it is hard to do, but we need to bring our A game to the table each day and don’t compromise on the quality of work. This is a very important sentence to live by though I have not proven it by myself as I just entered the work force a year ago, so what do you expect? haha. When you do your best, somebody eventually will acknowledge it and, at its turn, life will offer you opportunities.

4. What if I learn less than my friends in other companies?
Just face it, for now I bet there are many of my friends who “learn” faster than my pace at their work. But hey, people learn at their own pace, aren’t we?. Regardless of what you have today, make yourself believe that  you are still destined for something great, only if you keep the drive alive because the finish line is reserved not for those who run fast at the start, but for those who are resilient.

I know  I am not the only person who feel what I feel so if you happen to face this same phase, I hope you will find my writing is useful.

Cheers!

Arya
A sophomore in digital world who still finds a way and seeks a lot of “YES” to make it big.