Maria ‘Miyabi’ Ozawa
fully clothed, anyone?

Here they go again. Moralists and religious purists are out to shoot down Maxima Pictures’ plan to fly in Maria “Miyabi” Osawa, a Japanese adult movie actress to co-star in a local comedy flick  about college students being obsessed by the 23-year-old babe.

The threat of massive protests (which could turn ugly like the one when the Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI, attacked Playboy Indonesia in 2006) already puts the plan in doubt although Maxima
production manager Adi Sudiadi promised  to begin shooting this mid-October.  

Unfortunately, there has been no report from Miyabi if she will brave the controversy and meet her star-struck Indonesian fans.

The critics’ fierce resistence may not be that hotshot either but their provocative rhetoric seems to be aimed at garnering support from the masses who share their ideology. They have been preaching their own standard of morality that others have to follow, or else.

They see Miyabi as a symbol of moral decadence so infectious that her presence would only erode youths’ morality. In case you are curious about what they say about the porn star and the plan, here are two quotes from the Sept. 29 edition of Pos Kota.

“Indonesia has the largest Muslim population. How can we let Miyabi feature in a local film? As we know Miyabi had sex when she was only 13. Where is our morality? Her presence would taint our
image and we should slap on some moral sanctions if she does come here albeit not for a porn flick.

Boycott her movie,” says Wanda Hamidah, a soap opera-turned Jakarta councilor.

H. Amidhan, chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), says: “The MUI is really worried Miyabi will become the local teens’ idol and this would damage the nation’s reputation. Why do they insist on bringing in Miyabi, anyway? This country has lots of pretty artists with superb acting skills.”

Perhaps, as a citizen of a country where people are free to have different views and beliefs without risking a violent backlash, Miyabi may think Indonesia is a country full of frightening, intolerant people.

But she can take some consolation from more open-minded people who openly confront views such as those aired by Wanda and Amidhan. Model/TV personality Olga Lydia, video jockey Marissa, the National Commission on Violence against Women and even Communication Minister M. Nuh are among those who welcome the invitation of Miyabi in the spirit of freedom of

Either way, Miyabi is the one who has reaped the benefit from the controversy. People like Amidhan and Wanda deserve her gratitude because they, too, have helped introduce her to a wider audience in Indonesia.

If there is a poll to rate Miyabi’s popularity before and after the controversy, her popularity must have been soaring over the past weeks. Search engines must have been a lot busier helping people find her raunchy pictures and stories on the internet.

Millions more may have saved her images on their cell phones. Sellers of pirated CDs in Chinatown must have been enjoyed a surge in sales of her films.

In fact, she doesn’t have to physically come here to promote her work!    

For his part, Sudiadi has in fact embarked on a suicidal PR campaign when he said (honestly or naively) the flick will be “purely comedy” with no nudity to compromise conservative Islamic sensibilities.

“I guarantee Miyabi won‘t be playing in a porn film here. We will bring her here not as a porn star but purely to play a comedy role. Miyabi is well-known to Indonesians … we are expecting her to attract a lot of spectators here.

“We are also trying to repair Miyabi’s reputation by showing she can be more than just a porn
star,” he was quoted as saying by an online media.

It doesn’t quite make sense for Sudiadi to expect “a lot of spectators” while  he vows to see  to it that Miyabi appears fully clothed the entire movie. It sounds like the filmaker/producer is promoting  a Jackie Chan flick but making it clear that the kung fu hero refrains from fighting.

If his purpose is to please his critics, Sudiadi may consider making Miyabi wear a dress covering her from head to toe throughout her appearance.

Maybe, just maybe, Maxima should learn from the great flop of Playboy Indonesia in 2006. A similar controversy and the militants’ attacks on its Jakarta offices only triggered a sell-out of its first two editions.

When it could not stand the animosity, it moved its headquarters to predominantly Hindu Bali where people are more tolerant. But when the controversy died down, so did the magazine.

Apparently, it eventually disappeared from newsstands not because of militants’ attacks but rather because the parade of women featured throughout the editions, from the front cover right to the back, were “politely” clothed.  

On the bright side, Maxima’s project is a good attempt at defending democracy in this pluralistic country where interpretation of values and views should not be dominated by certain groups.

The author is staff writer at The Jakarta Post.

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