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Kaesang Pangarep offers insight into presidential life

Yanti Sastrawan
Yanti Sastrawan

Writer, illustrator, and part-time lecturer

Jakarta | Tue, April 11, 2017 | 03:08 pm
Kaesang Pangarep offers insight into presidential life

Not my style: A YouTube clip shows President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo poking fun at his son Kaesang Pangarep’s haircut. (YouTube/@kaesangp/-)

For some, Kaesang Pangarep is known as the youngest son of President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo. Yet to the tech-savvy community, Kaesang is known as the President’s son who vlogs.

At least this was how I was introduced to Kaesang.

I first knew of Kaesang when he recorded a vlog of his father’s visit to the barbershop for a haircut, which went viral. This was picked up by press media after its release on his own Youtube channel. The video was as simple as how it was introduced:

“Mau kemana, Bapak?” [Dad, where are you going?]

“Mau potong rambut.” [Going to get a haircut.]

This lead to a three-and-a-half-minute long documentation of Mas Jumadi, the barber, trimming the President’s hair while his son accompanied him. In between were jokes and small talk. It was casual, as your regular trip to the barbershop would be.

Though he has gained popularity through social media, there is something uniquely apparent here. As Kaesang has recently been nominated as a Breakthrough Influencer through Influence Asia 2017 — an award celebrating social media influencers, the 22-year-old is blurring boundaries.

Kaesang’s platform using Youtube, as insight into his daily life, is not aimed at exhibiting and praising the President, but more at a twenty-something’s relationship with his father. This shows the mundane parts of life that are often unknown to society despite the high-ranked job position. This reminds us of their roles as father and son.

Read also: New vlogger in town: President Widodo

Unlike his predecessors, President Jokowi started his career as an entrepreneur. First mayor, then governor, he found a simple approach that won the election in 2014. He is fresh, directive, and he understands the basics of reaching his people. Jokowi revived the definition of the people’s president. This simple approach is reflected in Kaesang’s use of social media, without forgetting where his position is as a young adult on a public media platform and as his father’s son.

Kaesang shows the importance of self-representation and identification on social media. His blunt yet comical responses in tackling questions such as, “any significant changes in becoming the son of the country’s leader?" by simply responding, “not much, except for gaining more followers on social media," in a TV interview shows his familiarity as a twenty-something. Undoubtedly, there are those who do not buy into the approach, as criticism saying that Kaesang’s representations were merely to sugar coat the idea that he is living nothing close to an ordinary life, and solely being identified as the president's son who has the privilege of finance and power.

Read also: 5 popular world leaders on social media

The privilege that the youngest son takes into account is his freedom of expression through his own humor and a good camera. Having the advantage of revealing details of one’s life on social media feeds is used as an insight to the presidential life that is, to what Kaesang has frankly stated, not more than ordinary. This rare opportunity to see the President through his own son’s point of view shows how social media’s transparency can be used to reflect the family’s way of life. It is uncommon for Indonesians to see what Kaesang does, but being able to connect through social media platforms redefines his role as a young man.  

Kaesang’s Youtube videos share moments from within the president’s family and serve as a reminder of how solely humane their relationship to society is. Social media may allow for self-representation beyond reality, but not for Kaesang.

For he is just your average 22-year-old. (kes)

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Yanti Sastrawan writes and illustrates, as well as teaches as a part-time visual communication design lecturer. Aside for her passion in picture books and storytelling, she tends to use her spare time observing mediated media in real life. 

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