Private and Public Space Debate Over Indonesian Artists’ Sex Tape

Indonesian Artists’ Sex Tape and Pornography

After the fall of New Order Regime, Indonesia has been swept by the influence of Islam, among other. A theory I read stated that this has been caused by the Indonesians distrust toward the government and its law due to some moment of chaos following the fall. The number of women who are wearing jilbab has surprisingly increased tremendously since 1998, as maybe a sign of an increase of religiousity. My professor in university, Ari Setyaningrum, once said that it is now more common to see women in offices and universities to wear jilbab, compared to the decade of 1980s. In fact there has been now a common agreement that women over 40s in Indoneia should wear jilbab. My professor, when she was studying in Germany, once was asked by a peer whether she is going to wear jilbab when she is at her 40s; a question that really startled her.

Although the country has been known as the largest nation with muslim population in the world, Indonesia is regarded as a moderate democratic muslim nation, unlike Iran or Afghanistan. Nevertheless, terrorism and the number of muslim terrorists (who confirm themselves as jihadists) have also increased since the fall of New Order Regime under Soeharto in 1998.

This influence has brought about some changes in the country’s face.One of them happens in Aceh, one out of 33 provinces in Indonesia, that has regulated Sharia (Islamic Law) for some times now. They started to have their own Sharia Polices who actually regulate and monitor how people wear their clothes. Not only in Aceh, though, moral issues has also been a deep concern for Indonesians at large, at least for the press who lately love reporting adultery cases and sex scandals of politicians and famous artists, instead of digging some hard news. One of the latest most famous news is the sex tapes allegedly made by some Indonesian artists, a vocalist from a band called Peterpan, Nazriel Irham aka Ariel and his girlfriend, Luna Maya, and also another girlfriend, an infotainment presenter and model, Cut Tari.

A wave of reaction that followed the release of those videos is also very dramatic and interesting. Since the appearance of those sex tapes, many Indonesians have downloaded the videos, which has caused severe criticisms from Indonesian children protection commision, Islam Defender Front (Front Pembela Islam/FPI), anti-pornography community, muslim community, and worried parents. Indonesian police has also decided to go to schools and check whether students actually own those videos, for a moral reason of protecting students from any harms that may corrupt the their innocence. Internet cafés have been investigated for the same reason. Many people have been arrested under the new law of anti-pornography and pornoaction since then as well. The most interesting reaction is that this law, which was back then so widely rejected, has been used and now become a popular debate in Indonesian public and mass media.

When the Bill of this law was passed in House of Common several years back, there was a huge debate saying that it actually tries to alter the country into an Islamic country. Some said that this law could actually abolish Indonesian various local culture. Many artists back then questioned whether dancing in local costume would be considered as a form of pornography or pornoaction.

Despite that, the Bill has been a Law now and the challenge for this law is, still…what is the boundary? What can people do or not do in order not to trespass this law? What is remain private and free? What is now become a part of government’s surveillance?

In addition, the news coverage on these sex tapes and those three artists have gone so much in putting them as a responsible party of an increase number of rape lately, which were allegedly caused by the watching of their videos.

Now, this is interesting. Pornography has been a part of new media. You click on some search keywords like ‘porn movie’ or even ‘Miyabi’, you might be linked to some pages where you can easily download many porn movies. In fact, the development of older form of mass media like cable TV has also been widely known fueled by porn industry. Even when camera and video were first invented, one among the first pictures and videos are those categorized as porn materials. Then, why is it BIG when it comes to those three artists?

I am not a big fan of porn materials myself. However, I learn that the boundary of what was known as private and public space has slowly blurred.

Private and Public Space

What concerns me most about the losing boundary between private and public space is that an authority (like government) can go so far to intrude an individual personal space. This is a similar debate and controversy like what happens in the matter of abortion. In the matter of abortion, some people think that government should not allow abortion. While, on the other hand, some would argue that abortion should be each mother’s sole decision, instead of government or other higher authoritative institution. It is a matter of choice for the latter, and it is a matter of life for the first. In other word, it is private for the latter, and it is public for the first.

When we go back to this sex tapes matter, the question is: is it wrong for a couple to have their sexual activities recorded for their own need? This is not to raise a moral debate, because moral is, in a way, undebatable according to certain rules that some people believe in. However, I believe that an activity of recording whatever should be a personal individual choice. This should be a part of our private space as citizens.

Observing at how Indonesians authority and people react toward this matter definitely highlight how this binary space of private/public has almost become a public/public space.

Michel Foucault, a French anthropologist, has long time ago reminded us through his work, especially his research on prison (by analogy) of how the authority might intrude into an individual personal space. He found out, through his research, that prison guards acted as surveyors. Not just that, even how the spotlights being used at night in the prison was designed to act as surveillance camera. Prisoners may not be actually that closely watched, but they were put in cells in which the guards can spot them easily. Prisoners, as result, believed that they were being monitored all the time. Thus, they behaved accordingly.

In addition, Juergen Habermas, who also talks about private space and public space, thinks that everything has been made by some higher institutions to go along their master plan. He even suggests that some self-help therapy books actually try to normalize individuals according to some ideals. These higher institutions define what is normal/abnormal. By this reason, they too can take steps to make people just as they wish to be; by the act of surveillance in order to normalize people.

This is the part that where it gets to be scary. Do we as citizens can have some privacy over the control and surveillance? At what point can we feel free to make our own choices without worrying that we might get a law suit? Do we have any freedom as citizen without worrying that government and its law might find us gulity to say what we think, or even, to express how we feel?

This contemplation leads me to a final discussion: those three artists, should they be found guilty and responsible of the increase number of rape and threatening Indonesian children by their act?

Freedom and Responsiblity

With the increase of rape shortly after the videos spread in the internet, many people adamantly demanded that these artists should come up to public and confess publicly. Public also demanded them to make an apology to ulema, Indonesian children, and Indonesian public, especially muslim community, because what they did has created some domino effects on sexual crimes among teenagers and children. What is interesting for me is that these people acted as if these three artists are those who did the rape. Public do not see that responsibilty does not lie only on their shoulders, but also to everyone’s shoulders.

When Playboy first issued in Indonesia several years back, the same wave of emotion happened. Playboy was seen as a future evil-doer of sexual crimes. However, what amazes me is, while government has not regulated a strict age rule for buying sexual explicit content magazines or even just for buying cigarettes, parents do not seem to be seen as those people who SHOULD be in charge of what their children see, watch, read, or play with. Children are also left without some sufficient sexual education, for a reason of taboo.

Thus, in my opinion, blaming only those artists means forgetting that we also have the same responsibility in protecting ourselves and the minors.

7 thoughts on “Private and Public Space Debate Over Indonesian Artists’ Sex Tape

    • iya Mai…masih inget ga ada cerita Alkitab waktu Maria Magdalena mau dilempar batu? Trus Yesus bilang. ‘Cuma orang yang tidak pernah melakukan dosa yang boleh melempar’. Dan akhirnya ga ada yang ngelempar. Aku pernah diceritain cerita itu dulu, menarik meskipun aku ga pernah baca Alkitab. Tapi yang jelas aku suka ide kalo ‘penghakiman’ itu diserahkan ke Tuhan aja. Kita ga bakalan pernah bisa jadi hakim yang adil.

  1. Dari membaca tulisanmu ada pandangan yang lain mengenai diskripsimu tentang ruang publik dan ruang privat.
    Video tersebut dibuat pada tahun 2006 dan baru muncul ke publik pada tahun 2010. Berarti menurutku selama 4 tahun tersebut video tsb masih milik ariel secara pribadi. Karena suatu hal video ini dipublish ke ruang publik sehingga dikomsumsi sama orang banyak. Jadi menurutku yang diintervensi sama pemerintah bukan pada saat video ini masih dalam ruang pribadi tapi ketika video ini berada dalam ruang publik. Sehingga aq sepakat klo bahwa pelaku dalam video ini merupakan korban karena selama 4 tahun video ini yo aman2 saja sat kecuali klo ariel sendiri yang publish videonya.

    • Bingo! itu dia poinnya…menurutku seharusnya UU ga bisa menjerat orang yang sekedar membuat, seharusnya yang jadi tersangka adalah orang yang mengedarkan.

      Nah, di sisi lain, aku juga heran kenapa media begitu menekan ketiga orang ini untuk minta maaf? Jangan2 kita udah play-God…

  2. Dalam dunia fotografi selalu ada perjanjian tertulis antara model dengan fotografer dalam hal publikasi foto terutama kalo temanya nude art. Biasaya klo sudah begitu batasan yang diberi model hanya bagian tubuh saja tanpa ada wajahnya ato full body tapi wajahnya sama sekali tidak menghadap kamera contohnya Karyanya darwis triadi yang judulnya the ballet

    Selain nude art semua fotografer majalah national geographic selalu memohon ijin dari model human interestnya ketika akan dipublish ke majalah tersebut.

    Jadi menurutku ketika karya kita masuk ke ruang publik kita harus siap dengan segala resikonya.
    Aq pun sebenarnya ada berberapa foto swimsuit yang akan ditaruh di facebook (ruang publik) dengan harapan ada koreksi teknis supaya foto-fotoku lebih baik. Tetapi aq khawatir ndak semua orang bisa menerima foto tersebut

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