So far, the influences of Japanese and Korean pop culture have been everywhere; reaching out audience beyond national border, even continents. The Japanese pop culture invades in variety of media. First, though probably not the earliest, is the popular 2D art in the form of manga and anime, which successfully differentiate itself with Western style and maintaining a distinctive style with worldwide fans that will be the envy and object of imitation across the globe. Then, they have the idol industry that exports image of youth and “kawaiiness” that grabs hearts of so many people who then buy merchandises to support their idol and promote them among their friends. Following behind them is the J-drama and game show which have find its own strong loyal supporters even overseas. Furthermore, not only Japanese effectively conserve its historical legacy, they also cleverly insert it into its pop culture media mentioned above and promulgate it to other civilization. Japanese history does not defend itself from foreign and modern cultures, but fiercely attacking them at their own foreign land.
The Korean pop culture wave, which is more recent than the Japanese wave, invades in comparable but distinct way. It started out with Korean dramas that laid the foundation for the invasion; admiration for Korean “beauty”. Then, the Korean idols and performers proceed to assault. By combining western style of dance and fashion with Korean sexy and adult image, they differentiate themselves with their Japanese counterparts. And can we forget the famous “Gangnam Style” that conquered both world of the west and east in unprecedented level in a very short time span? Refusing to stop there, though initially following Japanese manga style, Koreans try to popularize their own manga art through webcomic platform and found limited but gradually growing fans. Can anyone stop this merciless invader from devouring every nation known to man?
Then it comes to the hard question. When will Indonesia achieve such level? Will we ever be in that level? So far, we have generally been the consumer, the influenced party. So tremendous is our penchant to foreign culture that it has reach a detrimental level to our own culture. Young generation hailed foreign culture as the culture they want to have, while our own historical culture have been put in the confinement of museum to be left rotting and forgotten. Even our cultural artists who work passionately to rejuvenate our national culture are more respected outside our border than within, where they are largely unknown by their own people. It is not impossible that at this rate, we will gradually lost our identity, and our culture got substituted by amalgamation of foreign cultures; effectively eliminating our chance to lead and therefore will continuously follow.
Unless, some measures are taken. An article by Mario Rustan in The Jakarta Post might sound a bit pessimistic about our pop culture, but it also points out matters that have to be dealt with to create a proper future for Indonesian Pop Culture. And a writing by Johannes Nugroho in Jakarta Globe describes a need for “a strong cultural profile that is sustained by an equally vibrant yet uniquely Indonesian pop culture”. Both mentioned government support as a critical factor in shaping Indonesian Pop Culture and what measures have to be taken. Both also inspired me to imagine a future where our popular culture stands strong and influences people outside our national border.
What ideas do I have ? Well, if you excuse my nonsensical imagination, I have some ideas that I hope will help shaping Indonesian Pop Culture. First, a central hub for our pop culture to flourish. We already have a lot of artists with great potential to become pillars of our pop culture; take a look at our locally produced cergam (an equivalent of manga?) at Re:on, our local idols like Lumina Scarlet or Happy Kingdom‘s group, or our historical re-imagination literature like Gajah Mada. Now, let’s assemble them! By having a central physical pop culture hub, like Akihabara or Harajuku, a street where there are shops and other attractions related to our pop culture, we can introduce our pop culture icons far more easily to the audience. Audience can go to this one location and browse through all of our pop culture icons, get to know more about them, get acquainted to them, and become their fans. We can also put a virtual hub; a website where netizens can get to know and enticed by our pop culture. Second, a “Dear Stage“-like establishment. Why? Well, just because I love the concept. An establishment meant to provide a space for individuals to tread their way to stardom, not through big agency sponsored audition, but through all-round performance: determining a show concept, setting up the stage, designing the costume, making the song setlist, or in short, producing yourself. By having such place, we can endorse a richer variety of performers with pure creativity, not yet mainstreamed or commercialized by big firms. Third, a grand collaboration for the advancement of Indonesian Pop Culture. PopCon is a nice example of gathering different artists together, where they can meet and share inspiration with each other. And I imagine we can make something like Osamu Tezuka’s Star System or at least when same pop culture icons can be referenced and presented by different artists across different art products, so that audience will be allured to search for those icons across the universe of our pop culture. Fourth, making our history hip again through our culture. Just like what Japanese has done, I want to see more and more of our legacy represented in our pop culture to garner younger generation interest in our history. Imagine you are in a cafe and everybody around you are discussing about the Battle of Bubat or the heroism of Srivijaya admiral and others (ﾉ≧∀≦)ﾉ.
So, my ideas might be quite off from reality. But the thing is I am very excited for it. I am interested to imagine our own pop culture spreading to the world. I will be delighted to participate in such movement, an I-wave boom! It will be awesome: looking at an Indonesian idol group getting thunderous ovation in an overseas concert reported live by mainstream channels, playing a multiplayer keris-battle game with foreign player, reading a fiction cergam about what-if scenario that Mataram Sultanate successfully westernize and play pivotal role in WW1. Can you imagine that? Are you getting excited too?