Thirdly, it creates a popular, public spectrum of prestige, with some foreign forms and social practices marked as higher than their local equivalents, others below them. I was accustomed to seeing U. As some early constellations were perceived to resonate with viewers, they became fleeting conventions, always on the verge of replacement by the next collection of elements. An implicit presumption of such programs is that the viewer will be able to make use of the information in a practical manner. Based on general ratings trends, it would appear that urban audiences are in tune with this grammar of form and narrative established by early producers. As it was described to me, the old film industry, while certainly a commercial enterprise, was insulated by the relatively weak competition among skilled filmmakers, of whom there was not an abundance. Particularly in Indian soapoperas, acting is often bigger than life, with eyes opened wide in surprise, brows furrowed and teeth bared in anger, and tears flowing from a bottomless reservoir in sadness. What we translate are sociocultural containers of social meaning, social relationship and communicative value called texts.

They also started to make 15 The Rupiah had been stable at 2,, to the Dollar for over a decade, but suddenly dropped to around 10, Rupiah per Dollar in autumn of , and had not recovered at the time of this writing, fluctuating between 8, and 9, The same actor from the movie, Rano Karno, plays the character Doel in the television series, and is also responsible for producing the program. Why would this be the case, when U. As in Egypt, this overtly melodramatic and highly emotional style of performance has become the norm in Indonesian soapoperas, winning out, as it were, over the more subdued styles seen in British and American soaps Abu-Lughod Stations struggle to get higher ratings with particular audience segments that advertisers most prize—which are nearly always middle to upper income, or exclusively upper income—by tailoring content and even coming up with new programs specifically designed to appeal to these groups. Because actual foreigners are effectively banned from working in the broadcasting industry3 Kitley ; Republik Indonesia ; Sen , however, it is largely local, Indonesian models of linguistic prestige and cultural capital—unstructured and contested though they are Errington —which appear to guide the management of language and dialect on popular television. I watch many programs of this type in my travels abroad, and I know what will work with the Indonesian people. This may be the partial result of using quasi-empirical polling data or focus groups, which is considered reliable but encouraging of repetition, or it could be based on ambient but untested conventional wisdom that agents differentially subscribe to.

Watching Si Doel – Television, Language and Identity in Contemporary Indonesia

If we look back to the original motivators behind the inception and expansion of television in Indonesia, betswi the Sukarno and Suharto presidencies, the fostering of national identity and promotion of the national language—which very few spoke as their mother tongue—are at the top of the list.

This sort of advertiser-driven programming is not uncommon. The decline of the domestic film industry does not cleanly coincide with the advent of private television, however, which only became widely available in the early and mid-nineties. What do Producers do? Indeed the showpiece of the broadcast was a music and variety program, which was broadcast live and with few technical mistakes, to the relief of all involved.


Here little attention is paid to linguistic markers of social appropriateness. A British-educated programmer at TransTV—I will call him Budi—thought it would be an exciting personal challenge to try to bring this show to Indonesia, and that it would help to set a cosmopolitan tone for the new station among media buyers. Nielsen struggle to appeal to their own clients—mostly advertising agencies and corporate advertisers—by providing data tailored to their interests.

Television and Public Culture Before we move on to discuss the nature of the public field that has been created by commercial television in its first fifteen years, it is worthwhile to review some of the key factors shaping its heavy reliance on derivative global elements in its content.

Watching Si Doel

The change in normative themes and imagery that accompanied the advent of private television broadcasting has been attributed, by many older episod in the industry, to the dramatic increase in potential profits available to the industry. Daughter of a diplomat, she had grown up in Iran at the height of American influence, and developed tastes there that influenced her early programming decisions.

Oetomo has himself recently been quoted as saying that Indonesians do not like to speak BIBB when they are not required to, because they see it as not simply the proper form of the language they use anyway, but rather as the language of sinetrons: All the local travel shows I observed used a close variation on this theme.

The project on commercialism was the most difficult in terms of access, as few corporations were willing to grant me interviews, and those that did largely approached the event as a public relations opportunity.

Sitting in the central position between production and the revenue-oriented marketing departments, they were the group that had to decide how to prod producers into meeting the needs of advertisers and the requests of agencies while keeping the overall image of the station at the forefront of decision making.

Cuts are rare, and a single point-of-view is maintained Stations struggle to get higher ratings with particular audience segments that advertisers most prize—which are nearly always middle to upper income, or exclusively upper income—by tailoring content and even coming up with new programs specifically designed to appeal to these groups. Let us take a single constellation as an example: The role of the media buyer, a relatively low-level position at most agencies, but one with potential for executive advancement, came to the fore in my discussions with station programmers.

Most female television hosts work with male co-hosts. At the same time, however, bargain- hunting did creep into a number of segments I witnessed being produced.

Nielsen collects ratings data. Indeed, by eschewing all common variations of the language that are variously used in vernacular speech across the country, the government has ensured that BIBB remains a regionless language that no one is likely to feel comfortable speaking. By defying the conventional wisdom, which at that time held ibahim stripping a program—particularly a non-Western import—would make it look cheap and old, reflecting poorly on the broadcasting station, she was able to discover that the public did not share this opinion, and in fact were quickly drawn to the idea of a program whose plot advanced so quickly.


In the third section I will suggest what sort of cultural field these strategies and derived content create for audiences. Log In Sign Up. It could be a certain type of wealthy villain lifted from telenovelas, the way an Indian soap opera brings in pop music at key points in the story, the subject position of the camera in a travel program seen on BBC, or the loosely Dickensian narrative formula of American Christmas specials.

As noted in the introduction chapter, anthropologists have begun to engage the practices of production, and the creation of mass cultural content, with holistic, ethnographic approaches in recent years e.

In observing various stages of the production process, I found the biggest real-world factor in the construction of programs like Anak Muda to be derivation; the use of resonant media constellations to create a modular product that consisted largely of various familiar at least to the producermarket-tested formal and narrative elements. I take a non-judgmental approach to derivation because I feel an activist perspective undermines a deeper understanding of the process and because I endeavor not to interject my own preferences over those of Indonesian audiences ; but because it is one of the more noteworthy aspects of the national media production field in Jakarta, it is important to break down some of the more significant factors that have contributed to its use as a powerful tool by the industry.

Her research interests include Asia, media, identity, and discourse. Likewise, the use of formal methods from Hong Kong series to film action sequences has been lifted by Indonesian producers, along with some of their narrative and linguistic conventions, but even these have been mixed with appropriate constellations from elsewhere in the Indonesian mediascape, including—in this case—a heavy use of Indian imagery borrowed largely from sinetron dramas, which serves double duty of indicating opulent wealth and a pre-Islamic proto-Hindu culture that distinguishes these programs aesthetically from the Chinese elements of their inspiration.

They may know they want to target children between five and ten years old from their marketing data, for example, but the translation from that knowledge to specific changes in program content, or in the epieode of new programs, is subject to countless other formal and narrative frameworks, as brtawi as historic trends, coming from the production industry.

Their personal preferences for television and films tended heavily toward U. Colorful video effects were sometimes applied to the tape, creating a kaleidoscopic feeling.

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