I think it’s not even a surprise anymore if any of us had seen or experienced shaming by our civic or religion teachers during our time in school when they found out we’re either a fan of British pop, indie rock, Kpop, or anything “imported”. For some reason, liking things from another part of the world is what makes this country’s economy and morals plummet. Therefore, some say that it is important to worship an art piece basing its worth on where it originates, whilst downplaying the worth of another art piece that comes from your own homeland because of some inferiority complex that will take up on another conversation. But, in terms of something so lighthearted, such as liking a certain food, music, or any pop culture things from anywhere in the world, I think we can agree that we cannot exactly control what we like and what we don’t since “love” cannot be forced.
So then, does being a fan of any artists or any artwork outside of our country make us love our country any less? Does it make us any less nationalist or patriotic? Both traits have been ingrained in us for twelve years in school. Does liking Red Velvet’s new releases automatically make one despise each and every part of Indonesian culture? Does enjoying Attack on Titan make one an avid hater of Adit Sopo Jarwo?
There is an understandable fear that causes this shaming trend to spark. Many people, especially those from the older generation or actively participating in Indonesian pop culture, are afraid that many Indonesian viewers, especially the youth, will lose interest in Indonesian pop culture altogether. In a particular viral interview, Indonesian comedian and actress, Asri Welas, expressed how sorry she felt for Indonesia for having the K-pop “pandemic”, and how Indonesian people are losing interest in local entertainment. This, of course, sparked many opposing opinions and conversations.
Many argue that the lack of quality and substance in Indonesian pop culture products recently—such as soap operas, variety shows, comedy shows, and even YouTube content, become the reason why many Indonesian youths have to search for better entertainment from other countries. People are not as tolerant of jokes jabbing at people’s intelligence, physical appearance, and ethnic identities anymore. People are becoming less interested in family feuds, cheating scandals, and setting up catfights to promote a new over-autotuned single. Everyone laughs seeing a dead body of a supposed villainous character being bombed by a meteor instead of fearing for their own morals. Many are tired of the same recycled plot of a beautiful poor girl meeting a cold but rich guy that happens to be handsome, falling in love and for some reason needs more than 200 episodes for the story to end.
Moreover, there’s no such thing as Indonesian youth completely leaving behind local pop culture things. If anything, they’re just searching for another outlet or platform to search for it other than any big TV stations. Acts like Arif Muhammad, an influencer, who cosplays a typical North Sumatran mother, which can bring Indonesian culture to the audience, and it will be great if the contents become trending. New names such as Lathi, Stephanie Poetri, and Dita Karang are flourishing online for their music. Content creators such as Jerome Polin, who serves entertaining and educational content, are still doing well in terms of fame and relevancy. These prove how no one is completely leaving the Indonesian entertainment scheme in the bigger picture.
I think the question raised shouldn’t be “Why are these kids leaving their local entertainment providers (such as TV series or mainstream music)?” but “What makes them have to search for entertainment from outside their own native language?”.