Originally, I worked on this interview for natgeo traveler, published a year ago. But it was hardcore-edited, lost its sexiness. That’s why i named it “@pandji: Uncensored”. So, I decided to re-write the Q&A. The nationalism-euphoria-architect/rapper/host/announcer/comic/cartoonist/activist/baller share his thought about many things. Some things even involved Bimbo, SBY’s music album and Sun Goku.
Q: Nationalism. What’s the main problem among every Indonesian?
A: We often misinterpret Indonesia. IMO, that’s the main problem. Our people, mostly youth, interpret Indonesia directly from what they see in mainstream media. Why is that wrong? Obviously and unfortunately, we couldn’t blame the media. Since bad news is good news (for them), they will always give us bad and provocative reports. It’s the nature of mass media. If our young people give up the definition of Indonesia just from Local TV station and newspaper, they will see only negative vibes. When we stopped there, the assumption will prevail; Indonesia is a bad country. We will receive the right definition of the Indonesia when we literally search it from outside the circle of mainstream media. Maximize the Internet. Even better: travel to every corner of Indonesia. That’s when you really discover Indonesia.
Q: That kind of condition; is it the same for youth in other countries? Are they also forced to give extra effort to understand nationalism?
A: I think it’s generally the same. The only crucial difference is youth in America and Europe have a good reading habit. They read a lot. Thus, their civilization is already established from a long long time. This includes the normal natural gap between print media, radio era, television era and so on and so on. In Indonesia, we had a culture shock when televisions invade us. What’s the effect from that situation? We lost the original process of fact-finding. Our youth loathe books.
Q: Okay. So, our education system is a failure?
A: Our education is ALWAYS wrong (laughing). There’re many mistakes in Indonesian education. For instance; inconsistency of curriculums. Every time the ministry changed, there will be unsynchronized new policies and methods. Next problem; our people were trained to memorized, not to understand the concept. Why is that a problem? When you graduate from formal school and your best skill is to memorized things, you will definitely lose your creative skill. In the end, you will be an office worker, which job is to repeat certain work pattern. That kind of education killed your creativity.
Q: Since when you started campaigning these things?
A: It was accumulative, but I think it was started in 2006. That year, I built a foundation, Pita Kuning Anak Indonesia. The target is to help children with cancer. After I run the foundation, the questions started to popped in my head. There were so many whys inside my head. The question still remains, until I watched a football match. It was 2008 Indonesia-South Korea for Asia league. It attracts me, when we sang Indonesia raya before the match. As far as I remember, it felt different when we sing Indonesia Raya with thousands of people. Just after that, I realized that our love to Indonesia is a very cool thing. So, I wrote a song about that, the title is Untuk Indonesia. When I release the song, people loved it. They were waiting for someone to shout frontal things about loving your country. I think, someone must start campaigning positivity for Indonesia. At least, we could grow back optimism for people.
Q: After reformation era, there’s this big euphoria in the information world. Right now, you could find plenty of twitter account shouting about Indonesia. But in the end, it’s all shallow, money oriented and outside contexts. Opinion?
A: In a positive paradigm, each people have their own process to find real truth and honesty. For example, I once did a pro-bono gig for a social fundraising event. When I came, all of the guests were socialites, it was so high-end and there were so many leftover foods after the event. The big picture is; you wanna do a fundraising for unfortunate people, but you waste lots of food. Contradiction. I thought I was doing something good. But then I think; These rich people wouldn’t have come to the event unless it was designed as a socialite event. Just because it was held in an edgy place, the initiator was someone important, they could raise up to 50 mill. Conclusion, you have to learn to take the good from the bad. Nowadays, there’re many organization, event, labeled their movement with nationalism. I’m not in the position to criticize anything, but we have to learn to take the good from the bad.
Q: Tell me something I don’t know about Provocative Proactive
A: It started as a blog. My blog. Simple concept: If you have faith about anything, I will give you new facts and info and let you re-think about it. People often say that it’s only sounded provocative. Totally agree with that, because the proactive part should rise from our own head, so when you complained about the show, you actually complained about yourself. In 2008, the phrase went into another level; a name of my first album. In 2009, my boss in the radio offers me to convert the concept into a radio show format. During the year I interviewed lots of people; Adnan Buyung Nasution, Bambang Pamungkas, Andi Malaranggeng, Adhyaksa Daud etc etc. I stumbled upon another interesting fact from John Stewart; most of young people in America consumed politics not from the news. They heard it from comedy shows. In the same time, in social media youngsters started to take side or at least gave opinions about politics. I designed the concept, aim it for national TV station. I describe the whole concept in front of Desi Anwar, and she wanted it for Metro TV.
Q: Tell me more about the topics.
A: There are always two priorities; what’s hot and what’s important. The main angle is young people. The show was designed as the gate for young people to be familiar with politics. We brought big topics, which most people considered as a repetition, but for our main target (young people) is something really really new. Yes, we are subjective. We did our research, homework and shout our subjective statement. Kinda like Batman. Most of my team are college students.
Q: The ultimate goal?
A: I believe, history also confirms, that every crucial change in the world triggered by youngsters. ALWAYS. Rengasdengklok, Sumpah Pemuda, Trisakti, proved that theory. Simple logic, if you don’t know anything about politics, there will be no change, at all. Right now, youngsters hate politics. They literally avoid politics. Someone should do something about this. We have to change the mindset.
Q: So, you encourage people to jump into the “wrong pool”. Even when they have the right mindset, the condition is still, shitty.
A: One thing; there’s no clean pool. We do need crazy people to be Batman for us. I don’t have real magic solution for that, but I believe that being pessimistic about it doesn’t help.
Q: How’s the feedback?
A: 50-50 between love and hate. What surprised me is government dudes and political parties also pay attention about the show. I heard that even the Istana Negara people watch the show, when discussed about SBY’s music album.
Q: What’s with SBY’s album?
A: It’s bad and it’s a wrong decision.
Q: Some people think that you commercialize nationalism.
A: First thing, I couldn’t escape for that kind of opinion. But I always ask this; if you do something sincerely and people compensate you with something; is that right or wrong? Most of people said; if you really mean it don’t take anything from people for what you have done. And I continue to ask; TNI (The National Army), do they fight with sincerity? Do they get paid? Yes they are. Conclusion: if you very good at something, good things will come to your way. My point is, I would never deny that I receive compensation from doing my job, but that won’t change anything. If you still feel that I commercialize nationalism, you could ask Bimbo, ask them did they commercialize Islam? Answering this kind of question is hard, especially in social media. You are the only person who ask me this question, by the way. (laughing) But remember this, the only difference between sharing and bragging is the intentions, right? The problem is, people could not tell what are true motive to do that kind of thing. If you wanna share something and delivered it with bad choice of words, people will think that you are bragging, vice versa.
Q: How do you handle unpleasant feedbacks?
A: I specified haters (laughing) into three different categories. First, tabrak lari. They shouted, but not doing anything about it. Second, the one who hate me and leave me, unnoticed. And the last category is the one who consistently criticize me. I always tried to make contact with this category. In the end we become friends. I called this “Sun Goku stunt”. You know that comic character, right? In the end, he become friends with all of his enemy.