The Jakarta Post
Ratna Sarumpaet, a former member of the campaign team for presidential election pair Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno, is ushered by police officers at the Jakarta Police headquarters for questioning on Thursday evening. Jakarta Police arrested her at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang over her alleged role in spreading false information to the public. (Warta Kota/Alex Suban)
The internet, in recent years, has started to replace television soap operas for drama-hungry Indonesians.
Especially in 2018, when unnecessary fights have been started by the myriad of people both famous and not famous for the sake of provocation and a sense of dominance in the online equivalent of bar fights.
The attention that these figures received showed that there is significant demand for fights and drama.
Probably the most prominent internet controversy in Indonesia that took place in 2018 was the saga surrounding actress-cum-activist Ratna Sarumpaet in October, where she falsely claimed that she had been assaulted by several people in Bandung.
Ratna has served as a propaganda megaphone in favor of everything related to 2019 presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and was part of his campaign team.
It turned out that the widely circulated photograph of her swollen face was just a temporary side effect of plastic surgery that she tried to spin in her favor.
“There was no assault. That was just a delusion inspired by Satan,” Ratna told the media hours after the police held a conference questioning her claims.
She was promptly arrested before she boarded a plane heading to Chile for what she said was a women’s rights conference. Prabowo’s camp has since distanced itself from her as a political precaution.
It was not the only internet controversy that surrounded politicians in this volatile pre-election year that will feature President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo versus Prabowo.
Some politicians still retained their consistency in picking fights with all kinds of people for the sake of their credibility. Even going toward the pop culture spectrum.
For one, this year also saw the intense but still unnecessary debate surrounding the release of two films; Putrama Tuta’s biopic A Man Called Ahok and the Manoj Punjabi production Hanum and Rangga: Faith In The City.
These two films came out at roughly the same time, but both carried staunch political undertones behind the screen, partly because Hanum and Rangga is about the son of anti-Jokowi politician Amien Rais’ daughter Hanum whileAhok is about former Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, who has always been one of the president’s closest compadres.
Hanum got substantial ire on the internet for allegedly instructing members of her father’s party, the National Mandate Party (PAN), to go and fill seats at the cinema, while there were similar accusations from the Ahok film camp of giving away free tickets to fill seats.
Hanum herself launched her defense by posting a positive online review by one of the filmgoers as proof that the film is worth watching.
A more recent controversy came from the depths of Indonesia’s myriad YouTube stars.
Gaming YouTuber Qorygore entered the Aokigahara Forest, known as a popular suicide spot in Japan, and gleefully filmed his encounters with the bodies found in the forest.
In his video, now taken down, he proclaimed that “this is Logan Paul 2.0”, referring to American YouTube star Logan Paul who did the exact same thing in January.
Despite the backlash that Paul received over the video, which included the suspension of his ad revenue, Qorygore seemed to forgo all common sense and recreated the stunt for the sake of viewer numbers.
He later clarified his actions in a video saying that he had a permit to film inside the forest and suggested that he did not get close to the bodies “out of respect”.
Aside from these major controversies taking place on the internet, in reality there are hundreds of others that took place on both a small and large scale.
It would be impossible to list them all and correctly determine which ones are truly public controversies.
From the laughable political debacle regarding the claim by Prabowo’s spokesperson Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak about running mate Sandiaga Uno being the equivalent of Indonesian founding vice president Mohammad Hatta — which was fiercely rejected by Hatta’s outspoken granddaughter Gustika Jusuf Hatta — to celebrity beefs such as the ones surrounding bombshell Nikita Marzani, model Luna Maya, pop diva Syahrini and Vicky Prasetyo’s unlawful stalking of his ex-wife Angel Lelga, there was just too much to bear for Indonesians to consume.
But at least some noble Twitter accounts such as @Lambe_Turah and@InfoTwitwor are willing to take one for the team and document almost every single feud that happened on the Indonesian internet.
Bless their souls for doing something none of us really want to do to quench our thirst for drama.