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Monday, April 23, 2007

the naked truth

“Saya membelinya karena artikel”

That, my friends, is “I buy it for the articles” in Bahasa Indonesia, a language spoken by 200+ Million people in Indonesia and at least two people here in the Bay Area (holla - Bekey and Holi!).

I asked my good friend Holi for the translation after I told him that I was doing a post on Indonesia Playboy. "They do have really great articles," he replied, not skipping a beat "really stuff that you don’t see in any other Indonesian magazines." "Yeah, right!" I scoffed.

But, he does bring up a good point. In Indonesia, where home-grown, hard-core porn is not hard to find, Playboy is surprisingly mild. Which is why it’s extra strange that the magazine’s editor, Erwin Arnada, was put on trial for indecency charges (he was cleared). The monthly publication doesn’t even show full nudity. One thing it does feature, however, is something that can be difficult to find in Indonesia: smart and controversial articles about sex, politics and art.

In a country still reeling from the bloody legacy of Suharto, the personal is very political. To me it’s just a case of the government jumping into bed with the moralists, the good old "by any means necessary" strategy. It’s just so darn politically expedient to use Playboy as an example, condemning porn being so much less objectionable than promoting censorship.

So maybe I shouldn’t have doubted Holi, maybe Indonesia Playboy really is about the articles.


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