Banking on scare tactics
A glance at the movie titles being screened at local movie theaters – often referring to ghosts and assorted poltergeists – is a clue that most Indonesians have a thing for the supernatural. TV channels have picked up on this love and loathing of all things spooky.
With an element of mystery part of the charm, there are shows that attempt to shed some light and knowledge on the world of the spirits, while others simply challenge the bravery level of the audience or people taking part in the show.
One of the shows notorious for giving its viewers the shivers is Dunia Lain (The Other World), hosted by Harry Panca, who starred in Rizal Mantovani’s blockbuster horror film Jelangkung (The Uninvited, 2001). Dunia Lain, which began airing in 2004 on TransTV, had a test-your-guts reality game-show format, with participants required to stay put in eerie places that were said to be haunted.
Their every move was documented by infrared cameras, which some believe also could capture the specter of spirits. Despite their resolve, most contestants could not withstand the test, eventually running screaming in fright as they heard things go bump in the night. The show, which received the Asian Television Award in 2004 as Best Reality Program, was a huge hit and its format was copied by many other shows.
It has returned with a new title as Masih Dunia Lain (Still The Other World), airing on Trans 7 on Thursdays and Sundays at 11:30 p.m. Besides testing the participants’ spirit in facing the spirits, the show also features parapsychologists Dicky Zainal Arifin and Citra Prima, who will give explanations on the ghosts found in the area. They use terms like “orbs”, “ectoplasm”, “astral creatures” and “cortex” for a scientific feel to the show.
In fact, Dicky told entertainment news portal tabloidbintang.com that the show aimed to give audiences a logical explanation on the supernatural world because such phenomenon could be explained scientifically. For example, he added, genies are made from fire.
“It means that the genie is a form of energy. Cameras or energy detector devices can capture the existence of that energy. The supernatural beings cannot harm humans. They need our help for their existence. When there is a group of people requesting protection from genies, it will only add to their arrogance,” he said.
The world of the spirits also attracted presenter Tukul Arwana, who hosts the hit talk show Bukan Empat Mata (Not Face-To-Face) on TransTV every weeknight, to make a mystical-themed show titled Mister Tukul Jalan Jalan (Mr. Tukul On The Road), airing at 10:30 p.m. on Trans 7.
At the outset, the show focused on travel with visits to tourism spots and other interesting places. It has since evolved to show the supernatural side of the areas, such as cemeteries, haunted abandoned buildings or superstitious spots. Sometimes Tukul is accompanied by parapsychologist Citra and supernatural painter Ustad Soleh, who declares that he can sense the existence of spirits and paint them with his eyes closed.
The world of the supernatural is indeed an interesting subject to discuss. But TV shows on the theme should also set out to educate viewers instead of using scare tactics as a money spinner.
— Tifa Asrianti