The Moral Crusade and Censoring Spree

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Before I say anything, please take a minute to read that screenshot of the latest broadcast regulations issued by the Broadcasting Commission of Indonesia (KPI).

You done? Good, now let’s continue.

I’ve been wanting to rant about this stupid-ass holier-than-thou complex that’s been growing as of late. Once upon a time, the government censored Shizuka’s bathing suit, because… reasons. The next time, the Miss Indonesia pageant was had blurred chests, because… fuck you, that’s why. But it was only until this piece of legal regulation came out when I finally said, “Enough is enough. This is so fucking ridiculous even by Indonesian standards,”

In the past couple of weeks, the government has initiated this sort of “moral crusade” against homosexuals, transexuals, and nudity. Spearheaded by the KPI, this moral crusade takes form of (1) blurring out chests of women, animated or non-animated, and (2) by criminalizing male hosts or TV personalities who are thought to act in a gay or effeminate manner. All of this under the pretext of “protecting morality”, in which the narrative is further pushed with an anti-LGBT agenda and anti-nudity. Indonesia is becoming more conservative by the second, all because a bunch of elites feel that gay people and partially exposed titties on TV are an existential threat to the moral values of the nation.

Fuck them. Fuck them and this sanctimonious moral crusade of theirs. They can all go deepthroat dicks until their faces turn blue from asphyxiation.

Oh forgive me, my non-Indonesian friends. Let me provide a succinct translation of the document, specifically the ones in the red boxes because those are the important parts:

Through this document, the KPI requests that from here on, male hosts or talents (both main and secondary characters) are not portrayed in a manner as dictated in the following:

  1. Wearing female clothing
  2. Donning female or effeminate makeup
  3. Showing effeminate body language (including, but not limited to, style of walking, sitting, hand gestures, etc.)
  4. Speaking in a manner similar to that of a female
  5. Showing justification of or promotion of males acting like females
  6. Addressing a male in a manner which would otherwise be reserved for a female
  7. Showing, using, or promoting language that is attributed to or often used by effeminate males (or transexuals)

KPI believes that such conduct do not reflect and respect the moral customs within society and also does not adhere to the principles of child protection. TV shows with such content may encourage children to learn and adopt such mannerisms, and to think of them as socially acceptable. (After this, it’s just a bunch of legal stuff)… and based on all the legal stuff in the parentheses, broadcasting agencies are also expected to uphold and respect cultural and religious norms and the multicultural character of the nation.

Okay, first let me take out my rage on this piece of legal bullshit. Let’s take a look at the list of things that the government doesn’t want us to do. Basically, they’re not allowing men to dress up and act like women because they’re afraid that showing such behavior would encourage viewers to suddenly take up sex-change operations and be Thai shemales. Okay, that’s a valid point. Children do learn from TV and quickly too. However, when you reach the “must uphold and respect cultural norms” part of the argument, everything just starts to fucking fall apart.

Indonesia is a cultural melting pot of over 300 ethnicities. So, when the government says that broadcasting agencies have to respect cultural norms and the multicultural character of the nationwhat exactly are the norms they referring to? There are more than 300 cultures in Indonesia. Which one are we using as a standard? The Java-Islamic culture? And why, out of the 300, we’re using only one as a basis for our regulation? I bet they’re just there to give the illusion of plurality. And don’t let me get started on religion. There are many religions in Indonesia (Jews exist in Indonesia, albeit only a miniscule percentage of the population, but their religion is not officially recognized; and the indigenous people are mostly animistic), but why is it that we use the standards of the majority? Simply because they’re the majority? Whatever happened to “multiculturality and plurality?”

Also, referring to point number 1 (and 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7) of the above list that says men cannot crossdress or act as a female, I would fucking beg to differ. Crossdressing is, in fact, deeply embedded in Indonesian culture, according to observations by G. G. Bolich (2007) in the book Transgender History and Geography. It has existed since the 14th century, perhaps even earlier. Hayam Wuruk, the 14th century Majapahit ruler, sometimes crossdressed and used a female name. Even in contemporary Indonesia, crossdressing and transexuality is not a new thing, let alone taboo. In Bali, there’s a topeng (mask) dance in which the dancer (male) dons a female kebaya costume and teases and flirts with other males in the audience. There’s nothing wrong with that. In Java, waria (shemale) entertainment is rather popular, especially in Surabaya. Even Soekarno, our first president, once crossdressed purely for the sake of entertainment! Based on this, the notion that men acting out female personalities on TV somehow offends the cultural norms of Indonesia is fucking bullshit. And I bet nobody suddenly decided to become a transexual after watching these performances. It was all for entertainment, a form of art and creative expression. There is NOTHING inherently wrong with creative expression… until some jackass suddenly decides that there is.

Now, let’s move on the second aspect of this stupid moral crusade: blurring out body parts that are considered erotic. Below is a photo, provided by a random person in the AV+ Community group, showing an episode of Doraemon on local TV. Notice anything different?

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Still not convinced? Here’s a local TV station showing the Miss Indonesia beauty pageant. Yes, this an INDONESIAN beauty pageant, with all contestants wearing full kebaya costumes. This image was taken from Tribun News.

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Notice anything? Yeah, your screen is not smudgy or broken. That’s exactly what it looks like: big-ass blurs over the chests of the contestants. Blurred. Chests. And when they’re wearing the national costume of Indonesia (well, Java mostly)! How the fuck can this be regarded as pornography? And their thighs too!

Why is the government going to such absurd lengths to censor everything? I cannot fathom how a bit of cleavage or a bit of exposed skin can be considered as something erotic, so much that it warrants a big, ugly blur.

Let’s make something clear. A human’s body, be it male or female, in and of itself, is not erotic in any sense. Erotica is a subjective notion; it is not absolute. Saying that the body of a naked woman (or man, for that matter) is erotic, to the extent where it merits censoring, exists only in the mind. It’s all about perception. A dangling penis is a natural aspect of the human body. The same goes for boobs and butts and thighs. They are all normal, natural body parts. Sure, they may be beautiful and aesthetic, like this painting of the Awakening of Venus:

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Or the statue of David:

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Statue of David made by Michelangelo

I cannot, in any way, see these works of art as being erotic in any sense, especially to the extent that they may pose a threat to my morals as a human being. It’s not like after seeing the painting of Venus I suddenly want to rape a bitch, or fondle someone’s dick after seeing David’s penis. Fuck no!

Also, to say that nudity is not part of the great Indonesian spirit of multiculturality and “norms” is ignorant. Let me just take a small example from the island of Bali. Back in the 1940s, Balinese women roamed the streets topless. They did daily work topless, with their boobs exposed to the elements and the gazes of other people. Did the Balinese suddenly turn into a bunch of degenerates who raped women on sight just because they got hard-ons from seeing naked women walking around in broad daylight? Nope. Instead, Bali’s been on the list of top tourism destinations for decades. Don’t believe me? This is an old photo of Bali back in simpler times:

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Balinese women in the 40s (Source: Old-Indische)

And you dare say that nudity isn’t a part of Indonesian culture? Go eat a dick.

There is something more sinister behind this obsession to blur out normal human body parts, and that is promoting the fear of the human body (and sexuality) based on a narrow world-view. The idea behind it is that the human body (especially that of women) is a dangerous, existential threat to the morals of people. People are being taught that the human body is not okay, even immoral. That thighs and exposed breasts are somehow threatening the fragile threads of morality. Therefore, it is only right that the government, as the leaders, shield people from this “harm” by blocking out anything that they think is threatening. And this is what this “moral crusade” is about: enforcing one, conservative world-view to a bunch of people with different cultures under the guise of protecting this obscure notion of morality. Instead of actually enlightening people about the differences between which is art and which is actually pornographic, the government decides to fuck it and go with irrational blanket bans like this. They like to keep people stupid and ignorant, so they won’t realize how badly fucked they are. Measures like these are the ones that make Indonesians ridiculously closed-minded and incapable of critical thinking.

This is what fascism looks like. And this is what I fear from the government. This “moral crusade” is nothing more than a clampdown on freedom of expression, of creative expression, of us appreciating sexuality. I keep saying this so many times: there is nothing inherently wrong about the naked human body. It’s natural and sometimes aesthetic. I don’t even need to cite literature to make my point; just take a look at the anime, Shimoneta. In my review of Shimoneta, I wrote about the satire of excess censorship and infringement of expression that eventually leads to a society that is dumb as rocks and ignorant as fuck. Or if you’re a movie fan, Equilibrium discusses the same thing albeit not being linked to sexuality per se, but the idea is the same: excessive censorship and regulations to keep people in line and be dumb. This is what I fear from this moral crusade.

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2 thoughts on “The Moral Crusade and Censoring Spree

  1. Hey, I’m totally agree with you.
    I feel uncomfortable when seeing that fuckin blurred parts.

    I sold my television, give thanks to KPI.

    Like

  2. I found this post via your earlier “Original character in cosplay post” and just had to chime in after an excellent read. I agree wholeheartedly. I am opposed to censorship in any way, shape or form. The notion of deciding that something should not be seen by someone else, and can not be seen because it has been censored, is evil. I fear that it is not just the enforcement of a narrow world view as you described, but an effort to create yet a greater privilege gap of simpler pleasures, limiting them to the wealthy and powerful. Often those who shout of moral decency the loudest, are the ones with the greatest acts of debauchery in the shadows (perhaps even infringing upon morality.) But under the mask of decency, it’s very easy to hide. Shimoneta and Equilibrium are fantastic examples. I’m not an anime fan but Shimoneta, I like. V for Vendetta is another. The bishop with a taste for schoolgirls far younger than anyone would deem morally acceptable, pretty much defines the concept of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Preaching censorship, decency, yet practicing the opposite.

    And of course as you say, there is nothing wrong with the human body. It is what we are, to deny that is just stupid. You say there is a distinction between art and pornography. But I’d even go so far as to argue that nudity, sex and eroticism was the first art, only today we call it pornographic. Before mankind sculpted or put pen to paper, they were getting down. Perhaps today pornography is the McDonald’s equivalent of it but it was the purest art before any of our ‘civilised’ ideologies came to be. No pen, no paint, just each other. If the price of civilisation is to obscure this beauty, to deny our past and prevent fun, then perhaps sophistication and moral decency are horrible ideas. Since sex is good, I can only conclude that the desire to censor it is to stop other, less powerful people, having fun.

    Good article.

    Like

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