Review Drama Korea: Bride of The Water God

Nam Joo Hyuk dan Bride of Water God sepertinya jadi kata-kata yang paling sering di-Google dan dicari di Instagram (353 ribu sekian post) akhir-akhir ini oleh para pecinta K-drama. Setelah drama “My Secret Romance” dengan Sung Hoon berakhir, kami (#eaaaa) disuguhi drama baru Nam Joo Hyuk yang berjudul “Bride of Water God”. Dalam kurun waktu 1 tahun terakhir, NJH bermain dalam 3 drama yang sangat populer di Indonesia:

 

  1. Moonlovers Scarlet Heart: Ryeo (2016), sebagai 13th Prince Baek Ah (peran pembantu), saudara laki-laki terdekat dan sekutu dari Wang So/Gwangjong (Lee Joon Gi). Baek Ah adalah seorang musisi yang hatinya sangat perasa dan hancur waktu tunangannya bunuh diri. Walaupun rating drama ini rendah di Korea sana, drama ini sangat populer di Asia Tenggara. Scarlet Heart: Ryeo dijamin bakal bikin baper dan penasaran sama episode-episode selanjutnya. Ending-nya mengecewakan dan sama sedihnya dengan drama versi China-nya. Porsi tampil NJH mungkin cuma 10% dari keseluruhan drama, tapi kebeningannya cukup menangkap mata pemirsa, hehehe.
  2. Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo (2016), sebagai Jung Joon Hyung (salah satu pemeran utama yang akhirnya menjadi kekasih Kim Bok Joo, si fokus cerita). JJH adalah seorang perenang yang masih menjadi mahasiswa di sebuah universitas olah raga. Ealah, NJH di sini bener-bener boyfriend material deh (untuk ukuran anak kuliahan di umur awal 20-an ya). Manis, cakep, jahil, baik hati, suka menolong, ingin orang lain di sekitarnya bahagia, dan seterusnya. Drama ini dijamin bisa bikin nostalgia romantika dan drama cinta masa kuliah. Setidaknya untuk saya.
  3. Bride of Water God (2017), sebagai Ha Baek (ini pemeran utama beneran). Drama ini baru 8 episode (yang ada subtitle 7 episode) dari total 16 episode. Sejauh ini, NJH KARISMATIK DAN COOL ABIS (perhatikan huruf capital, bold, dan underline ya. Ini menandakan saya punya dongsaeng idola baru, hihi). Beda banget dengan karakter-karakter dia sebelumnya yang easy going dan ceria, NJH sebagai Ha Baek sangat sangat serius. Kadang saya kira dia sedang sekuat tenaga menahan ketawa karena pipinya sering kedutan sendiri lho (coba perhatikan deh). NJH banyak dikritik di drama ini karena katanya aktingnya ga bagus dan ekspresinya terlalu monoton. Please deh ah, nonton drama pada akhirnya kan soal selera. Sama halnya dengan makan di restoran, ada masakan yang kamu bilang ga enak tapi kata orang lain enak, begitu pula sebaliknya. Sampai saat ini saya masih semangat mengikuti cerita Ha Baek hanya karena NJH ada di situ (maafkan kebiasanku). Buat saya pribadi, kalau saya ga suka aktor/aktrisnya dijamin saya ga bakalan nonton drama mereka, contoh: saya ga suka Ji Chang Wook dan Yoona dan ga akan nonton drama yang ada mereka di dalamnya.

 

Soal jalan cerita, saya kira BOTWG bakal kurang-lebih sama dengan manhwa-nya, tentang Dewa Air Ha Baek yang meminta seorang gadis cantik dikorbankan untuk menjadi mempelainya supaya suatu desa berhenti mengalami kekeringan. Ternyata plotnya bisa dibilang beda banget. Di drama ini Ha Baek turun ke dunia manusia untuk mendapatkan batu dewa untuk mengukuhkan posisi dia sebagai kaisar dunia dewa (di manhwa Ha Baek adalah dewa air dan posisi kaisar dipegang Shin Nong, musuh dari ayah Ha Baek). So Ah yang menurut manhwa jadi gadis desa yang dikorbankan, digantikan dengan So Ah seorang psikiater, keturunan dari keluarga yang sudah berjanji akan menjadi pelayan dewa. Saya suka sekali karakter So Ah ini. Awalnya saya pesimis waktu lihat profil Shin Se Kyung di Wikipedia, bisa ga ya memerankan karakter perempuan dan dokter yang berbeda dengan dokter-dokter lain di banyak drama dalam setahun terakhir (DOTS, Doctors, dan W: Two Worlds). Ternyata oh ternyata So Ah bisa mencuri perhatian dan memikat saya dengan semua ketidaksempurnaannya. Dia judes, labil, pemalu, baik hati, dan suka menolong (walau suka pura-pura ga peduli). Sikap salah tingkahnya waktu dia mulai suka sama Ha Baek bener-bener bikin saya menghayati perasaan dia. Saya ikutan sedih dan nangis lho waktu dia ngerasa putus asa karena beban hidupnya; saya juga ikutan bahagia waktu dia kira dia bisa bersandar pada Ha Baek. Semoga ritme perkembangan perasaan antara Ha Baek dan So Ah tidak terlalu cepat ya; saya sangat suka situasi malu-malu kucing orang yang lagi PDKT. Memang sih ada kesedihan yang membayangi karena Ha Baek kan dewa, umurnya sudah 3.000 tahun (and still counting). Kalaupun akhirnya dia jadi sama So Ah, So Ah akan meninggal duluan karena kefanaan manusia yang bukan dewa. Jadi penasaran kan gimana akhirnya 2 orang ini bisa dijadikan satu oleh PD-nim? Heuheu.

Krystal sebagai Moo Ra kurang pas, mungkin karena pakaian dan dandanannya yang kayak tante-tante. Saya jauh lebih suka dia waktu jadi Lee Bo Na di Heirs (2013), jutek dan gemesin. Saya ga tahu dan ga pengen tahu siapa yang jadi Bi Ryeom, karena dibandingkan NJH pesonanya masih kalah jauh. Karakter yang bakal menyimpan banyak kejutan ternyata CEO Shin (Lim Ju Hwan, dia main juga di Uncontrollably Fond (2016) barengan Kim Woo Bin). Di episode 7 menjelang 8 baru ketahuan kalau dia demigod (makhluk setengah dewa dan setengah manusia). Apakah dia benar-benar baik seperti tampang luarnya, apakah dia akan mencelakakan So Ah, apakah dia akan berusaha merebut So Ah dari Ha Baek? Ih jadi pengen drama ini cepet selesai, terus nontonnya diulang lagi dari episode 1, hehe. Dan kali ini saya akan nonton serius, ga lagi sambil nyetrika seperti nonton drama-drama lain. Kenapa? Karena ada Nam Joo Hyuk di situ, wkwk.

Seperti kebanyakan drama Korea akhir-akhir ini, BOTWG juga disponsori oleh pemerintah Korea dan brand-brand ternama. Empat brand yang saya spot di sini adalah HP Samsung S8 (berulang-ulang disorot khusus oleh kamera, bok), mobil Hyundai, minuman kemasan sari buah sesuatu, dan salah satu operator taxi di Seoul. Memang sebuah drama perlu sponsor untuk menjamin produksinya berjalan lancar, tapi eksposur berlebihan sebuah brand di sepanjang jalan cerita bisa jadi menjengkelkan. Contohnya: HP Samsung S8 warna biru metalik yang berulang kali di-close up oleh kamera mulai dari episode 1 sampai dengan 7. Kalau mobil Hyundai, eksposur brand-nya waktu So Ah duduk di belakang setir dan kamera menyoroti dia dari depan mobil. Hal ini kurang lebih sama dengan mobil Hyundai Tucson yang dikendarai Kapten Yoo Si Jin (Song Joong Ki) di DOTS. Penjualan mobil Hyundai dikabarkan meningkat tajam setelah brand-nya diiklankan dengan “tidak sengaja” oleh SJK. Minuman sari buah yang katanya disukai oleh Ha Baek dapat 1 kali close up di episode 4, dan 1 kali ad lip waktu Ha Baek jelas-jelas minta minuman itu ke Nam Soo Ri. Mungkin eksposurnya akan bertambah di 8 episode mendatang.

Bisa ga sih iklannya ga terlalu obvious? Waktu di Scarlet Heart, NJH ga ngiklan apa-apa. Ya iyalah kan drama historical (sageuk) yang ga ada akses ke barang-barang modern masa kini. Di Weighlifting Fairy, ga ada eksposur brand yang terang-terangan tapi sweater, jeans, dan jaket seperti yang dipakai NJH dan Lee Sung Kyung mulai menjadi trend yang mungkin nih tidak sengaja tercipta. Buktinya apa? Banyak akun di Instagram yang menawarkan pakaian dengan brand/tampilan yang sama persis/mendekati yang dipakai para aktor di WFKBJ. Saya sendiri sampai sekarang suka sekali dengan pakaian ala anak kuliah: kaos, jeans, sweater, jaket parasut, celana training, dan sneakers. So, I was totally sold dengan barang-barang yang diiklankan oleh aktor-aktor tersebut.

Oh ya, ga bisa dipungkiri kalau NJH bisa mempunyai wajah seperti sekarang dengan permak (ga jelas apakah murni make-up dan perawatan ataukah ada unsur operasi plastik juga). Kalau kita lihat foto dia waktu SMA, wah transformasinya jelas banget. Faktor utama sepertinya di perbaikan gigi yang bikin rahang NJH jadi lebih terbentuk. Alis dan bentuk matanya sama. Bisa dibilang permak yang dialami NJH masih minor dibandingkan Lee Min Ho. Coba bandingkan wajah LMH waktu di Boys Over Flowers (2009) dan Legend of The Blue Sea (2016). Bukan sulap, bukan sihir, bentuk hidung dan rahangnya udah berubah banyak. NJH sekarang berusia 23 tahun dan mulai naik daun. Dia sedikit mengingatkan saya pada Lee Min Ho yang mulai naik daun sejak usia 22 tahun karena memerankan Gu Jun Pyo di Boys Over Flowers. Rating dan kepopuleran sebuah drama dan aktor-aktor pemerannya memang tidak bisa diprediksi. Namun sepertinya drama dengan unsur fantasi dan air masih akan menjadi tren sampai tahun depan, karena episode 1 BOTWG sangat mengingatkan saya pada episode 1 Scarlet Heart: Ryeo waktu Hae Soo tenggelam di danau dan terlempar ke masa lalu, dan episode 1 Legend of The Blue Sea waktu Sim Cheong sebagai mermaid mulai ditampilkan.

Semoga karir Nam Joo Hyuk juga secemerlang karir para seniornya ya. Fighting, uri dongsaeng!

Marketing dan Promosi Buku “Randomness Inside My Head”

Randomness Inside My Head adalah sebuah buku indie, kumpulan 12 cerpen dalam bahasa Inggris, yang saya terbitkan di akhir tahun 2016. Sebagai penulis indie, kegiatan marketing dan promosi buku ini digagas oleh saya dan dieksekusi dengan bantuan berbagai partner bisnis saya. Selama kurang lebih 8 bulan, kegiatan marketing dan promosi yang sudah saya jalani adalah sebagai berikut:

 

1. Menyelenggarakan Creative Writing Workshop untuk Pelajar Usia 11-18 tahun.

Workshop yang saya buat pertama kali adalah di bulan November 2016 untuk membekali siswa-siswi Sekolah Mentari Cengkareng sebelum mereka mengikuti lomba menulis prosa dan puisi dalam rangka Book Week yang diselenggarakan oleh sekolah mereka. Workshop saya bagi 2, untuk siswa kelas 6-7 dan untuk siswa kelas 8-10, untuk menyesuaikan dengan kemampuan berbahasa dan menulis mereka.

 

 

Di bulan Juni 2017 saya menyelenggarakan workshop yang sama untuk siswa SMAK 1 BPK Penabur, Jakarta. Workshop kali ini adalah bagian dari serangkaian acara untuk membekali siswa SMAK 1 dengan keterampilan di luar pelajaran sekolah, seperti: fotografi, jurnalistik, make-up, dan menulis.

 

 

Passion saya adalah menulis dan mendidik, dan saya sangat senang bisa berbagi ilmu dengan dan membantu mengembangkan minat menulis dari anak-anak sekolah tersebut.

 

2. Mengadakan Book Launch.

Pada bulan April 2017 saya mengadakan book launch di Toko Buku Gramedia Mal Central Park, Jakarta Barat. Acara ini disponsori oleh Gramedia, Mal Central Park, EF English Course, O Channel TV, Goodreads Indonesia, Situs Berita Online Tempo.co, dan Tempo Store. Dalam acara ini saya mengadakan talk show dengan para pembaca RIMH versi pertama dan versi kedua yang sekarang beredar di toko buku. Saya juga roll-out secara resmi Creative Writing Workshop untuk sekolah-sekolah yang berada di wilayah Jabodetabek. Sebagai acara penutup ada Reading Out Loud Competition, yaitu kompetisi membaca beberapa paragraf dari buku saya bagi para hadirin dan undangan dari sekolah-sekolah, yang disponsori oleh EF English Course.

 

 

 

3. Mengisi acara talk show di televisi.

Pada bulan Januari 2017 saya diundang ke program Daybreak di World News Channel MNCTV. Dalam program ini saya bicara tentang alasan “Randomness Inside My Head” ditulis dalam bahasa Inggris, apa yang menjadi inspirasi saya untuk menulis, dan proyek-proyek yang akan saya kerjakan setelah RIMH.

 

 

 

4. Menghadiri interview di radio.

Seorang penyiar di Radio Sindo Trijaya 104.6 FM datang ke acara book launch saya. Setelah itu saya diundang untuk menjadi nara sumber di acara Komunitas Buku yang mereka siarkan setiap hari Minggu pukul 10 – 11 pagi. Dalam acara ini saya berbagi pendapat tentang peran talenta dan kerja keras untuk menjadi seorang penulis, arah dan tujuan saya menulis cerita dan menerbitkan buku, dan bagaimana buku “Randomness Inside My Head” telah mengubah hidup saya secara pribadi dan bisa memberi sudut pandang baru terhadap makna kehilangan dan harapan bagi para pembacanya.

 

 

 

5. Berbagi lewat seminar online di TasoLt.

TasoLt didirikan oleh sekelompok anak muda Indonesia yang berkiprah profesional di luar negeri yang ingin memberikan sumbangsih positif kepada Indonesia. TasoLt mengambil format seminar online untuk memberi wadah bagi orang-orang dari berbagai latar belakang pendidikan dan profesi untuk berbagi dan menginspirasi orang lain. Dalam seminar kali ini saya berpartner dengan Sari Agustia (Tia), teman sekelas waktu kelas 3 SMA, yang sudah menulis novel Love Fate (Elex Media, 2015). Tia adalah salah satu inspirasi saya untuk menulis, dan saya sungguh senang bisa bersama Tia berbagi pengalaman kami tentang menerbitkan buku dari jalur penerbit major dan jalur independen. Untuk informasi lebih lanjut tentang seminar-seminar online yang sudah dan akan diadakan oleh TasoLt, bisa cek website-nya: http://www.tasolt.com dan channel Youtube: TasoLt.

 

 

Di bulan Agustus mendatang saya berencana mengadakan dua buah aktivitas promosi lagi. Aktivitas seperti apakah itu? Nantikan laporan selanjutnya ya!

Terima kasih sudah mengambil bagian dalam perjalanan hidup saya yang satu ini. 🙂

Masih Tentang Sung Hoon dan My Secret Romance

Sung Hoon jadi sorotan setelah main di drama My Secret Romance (2017). Kharismanya sebagai seorang chaebol dengan modal badan atletis dan gaya berpakaian formal memang tidak terbantahkan dan sudah teruji di 2 drama lainnya (New Tales of Gisaeng (2011) dan Nobel, My Love (2015)). Awal kisah My Secret Romance bisa diintip di link ini: https://rijotobing.wordpress.com/2017/05/13/review-drama-korea-my-secret-romance/. Review saya waktu itu belum selesai karena episode yang ditayangkan baru sampai episode 7. Di review sebelumnya saya menyoroti bagusnya animasi yang muncul di setiap permulaan episode, yang cakepnya mengingatkan saya pada komik-komik serial cantik terbitan Elex Media di tahun 90-an.

Setelah episode 7, drama berlanjut dengan kesalahpahaman Cha Jin Wook (Sung Hoon) yang menjadi baik pada Yoo Mi karena mengira adik tiri Lee Yoo Mi (Song Ji Eun) adalah anak dari hubungan satu malam mereka 3 tahun lalu (Dong Goo memang kebetulan banget baru berulang tahun ke-3. Sayang ya, Jin Wook cakep tapi ga bisa menghitung kalau setelah pembuahan, ditambah dengan waktu mengandung, harusnya anak dia masih berumur kurang dari 3 tahun). Kesalahpahaman ini berlanjut ke keterlibatan orang tua Jin Wook dan Yoo Mi, sampai pada satu titik ibunya Yoo Mi memberi tahu di acara TV nasional kalau anaknya pernah berhubungan satu malam dengan Jin Wook yang notabene bosnya di Daebok. Dari sini bencana dimulai karena ibu Yoo Mi juga ga malu memberitahu publik kalau dia mantan artis erotis. Yoo Mi putus dari Jin Wook, pindah kerja ke daerah pelosok karena malu sama rekan kerja dan mungkin sama orang-orang se-Seoul, dan kembali merasa nelangsa. Yoo Mi ini memang karakter yang lemah banget, sedih-putus asa-galau melulu. Nonton dia sama sekali ga menyenangkan, kecuali di adegan dia nyanyi di tempat karaoke karena suara aslinya memang bagus.

Gimana dengan Sung Hoon? Di drama ini Sung Hoon punya beberapa gaya rambut:

 

 

 

 

Bikin dia jadi kelihatan lebih menarik ga? ENGGAK. Saya malah bingung karena seakan-akan ada beberapa aktor yang memerankan Cha Jin Wook. Oke lah kalau gaya rambutnya berbeda antara 3 tahun lalu waktu pertama kali bertemu Yoo Mi dan sekarang. Tapi kalau di masa sekarang dia punya 2-3 gaya rambut, rasanya mengganggu banget. Dari episode ke-8 sampai ke-13 tambah kelihatan kalau aktingnya Sung Hoon tidak terlalu bagus. Dia banyak menunjukkan ekspresi komikal seperti pura-pura terkejut, bengong ga jelas, dan sejenisnya. Bahkan waktu dia mengejar Yoo Mi ke daerah di tepi pantai itu wajahnya ga menunjukkan bahagia yang gimana gitu karena sudah berhasil menemukan Yoo Mi. Dia juga ga marah gimana gitu waktu dia melihat Yoo Mi meluk Jung Hyun Tae. Sebenernya yang ngaku suka duluan si Hyun Tae, tapi yang meluk kan Yoo Mi dan bisa bikin semua jadi salah paham. Pada akhirnya Jin Wook ga marah lho di adegan itu, dia cuma pergi aja dari sekolah tempat Yoo Mi kerja. Beneran cinta ga sih?

Yang menarik dari akting Sung Hoon cuma waktu dia ke restoran milik mamanya, makan sup abalone sambil nangis bombay. Adegan ini tetep kalah mellow dibandingkan Kim Woo Bin yang nangis di Uncontrollably Fond (2016) waktu dia makan masakan buatan ibunya sebelum karakter Woo Bin meninggal (atau ga sih?) di drama itu. Di situ Sung Hoon keliatan beneran sedih, menyesal, dan sebagainya. Tapi eh tapi, ibunya kok lempeng banget sih buat seseorang yang udah lama ga ketemu anaknya? Ga mewek berlebihan gitu padahal katanya udah tahunan ga ketemu Jin Wook. Sebagai seorang ibu yang punya anak laki-laki, rasa-rasanya mustahil buat saya untuk tidak emosional di momen seperti itu.

Gimana Jin Wook dan Yoo Mi bisa bersatu kembali? Ibu Yoo Mi yang memisahkan, dia pula yang menyatukan mereka kembali dengan cara yang sama: curcol di talkshow di stasiun TV nasional, bok. Karakter ibu Yoo Mi memang paling menyebalkan sedunia: kekanak-kanakan, egois, mau menang sendiri. Saya sempat shock pas tau aktris yang sama memerankan ibu Kang Mo Yeon (Song Hye Kyo) di Descendants of The Sun (2016). Untung di DOTS scene di mana ada dia hanya sedikit, haha, karena sungguh saya ga demen sama aktrisnya. Oya, Jin Wook dan Yoo Mi bertemu kembali di pagi hari waktu kantor Daebok baru buka. Mereka ketemu lagi di lobby kantor dengan Jin Wook membuka tangan lebar-lebar untuk menyambut Yoo Mi dannnn … mulai lagilah ciuman berlebihan yang disorot dari berbagai sudut. Yaiks … satu hal yang pasti dari drama ini adalah lust-nya, bukan romance-nya. My Secret Romance adalah drama romance yang tidak menunjukkan perasaan yang berkembang antara karakter utamanya. Ujug-ujug tidur bareng, ujug-ujug ketemu lagi, ujug-ujug seperti pacaran (ga jelas udah jadian atau engga tapi Jin Wook sering main nyosor cium), ujug-ujug pisah, ujug-ujug balik lagi. Dan konyolnya waktu pernikahan ibu Yoo Mi, Jin Wook baru sadar kalau bra pad yang selama ini dia simpan adalah milik calon mertuanya. Hellowwww?? Kenapa ga dari awal dia tanya Yoo Mi kenapa inisial di bra pad adalah M.H. bukan Y.M.? Bener-bener ga masuk akal.

Katanya 96% dari penonton suka drama ini. Saya terus terang cuma suka lihat Sung Hoon dan Kim Jae Young di sini. KJY sebagai Hyung Tae adalah boyfriend material banget deh, karakter temen-jadi-demen yang bisa diandalkan setiap saat, jauh lebih baik dari karakter Jin Wook yang ga tegas. Di MyDramaList My Secret Romance dapat rating 7.6 dari 10. Saya duga para penonton pada ga suka dari sisi alur cerita, perpindahan adegan, dan ending yang dipaksakan. Seperti webdrama Noble, My Love, MSR juga diburu-buru untuk selesai dengan cepat, dan di kedua drama ini Sung Hoon bisa tampil dengan 2-3 gaya rambut yang berbeda. Why oh why? Noble, My Love adalah 20 episode webdrama sepanjang 300 menit, yang bisa dikompres lagi dari 15 menit jadi 10 menit setiap episodenya, saking banyaknya pengulangan adegan dari episode-episode sebelumnya. Di NML Sung Hoon jadi chaebol juga, dingin dan karismatik juga, cakep juga, dan lawan mainnya sama galaunya dengan Song Ji Eun di MSR. NML bisa disaksikan di kissasiandotcom.

Setelah saya Google ternyata Sung Hoon juga main di Oh, My Venus (2015) sebagai wing man-nya So Ji Sub. Kayaknya saya bakal nonton cuma karena ada So Ji Sub di situ. Memang Sung Hoon terhitung aktor baru sih, baru kurang-lebih 6 tahun saja, jadi aktingnya, pembawaannya belum matang. Secara fisik dia punya potensi karena hellow, mantan perenang gitu lho, tapi secara pembawaan, kharisma, dll. dia beda banget dengan karakter yang dia mainkan. Sering kelihatan kayak orang salah tingkah yang ga tahu harus ngapain di tempat di mana dia berada. Bikin saya ga antusias untuk menonton drama lain dia yang juga lagi tayang (The Idolmaster KR, 2017).

Social Media

In the light of recent events of public shaming and bullying using Twitter and Facebook, I can’t help to think how the social media has affected me, at the least. I remember back in 2009 after I gave birth to my eldest, internet connection was not as handy as nowadays. Back then we subscribed to Speedy for several hours a month and we needed to sit in front of our PC to be connected. The troublesome of having to download pictures from camera/cell phone made me lazy to regularly post pictures and/or status. Things changed a lot in 2011 with the booming of tablet. The need to stay “connected” made PC become obsolete and Speedy become inefficient. We bought our first Galaxy Tab and cell number with 3 GB-internet access for easy access to the web. That event alone had kind of changed me to become a ShaRent ~ Sharing Parent. When I looked back I was very surprised to see myself sharing so much, so many things, even several times a day on Facebook. Facebook was the only social media (and later Instagram) that I felt convenient to be sharing myself in and to get updates from my community.

 

Being involved in social media has its own perks, advantages, and disadvantages. When I quit my job in 2009 social media was a way to tell myself that I still belonged to something. I might not belong to a company anymore, but I still had friends on Facebook and LinkedIn; I wasn’t totally disconnected from the world. However sophisticated the virtual relationship might seem, it can never replace the real interaction, action-reaction in direct contact among me and other human beings. Social media relies heavily on text. Other individual’s being is reduced from a face into a profile picture. Conversation degrades its meaning from involving voice and tone of the speaker, into voice and tone as responded by the recipient. If the recipient is in a bad emotional state, what might seem as a mere joke on a friend’s FB wall can be condemned as racist/insensitive/mean/you name it. The opposite also applies: what might be obviously a rude joke can be taken lightly when we read it when we’re being happy and content. It’s like having a person saying to your face: “Hey, your house just got robbed”, and smiling while he says it. Although what we perceive from the face of the news bearer and the content of the news itself differ, direct interaction can help us decide the proper reaction. This cannot happen in social media conversation.

 

In direct interaction the voice and tone with whom we speak decide the nuance and even the direction of the conversation itself. In texting/messaging through social media, the delayed response from the person we speak to might alter the whole essence of the conversation. Imagine having a delayed text-conversation in a real-life situation, where we’re meeting face to face with the person we’re conversing with, and out of nowhere the person suddenly leaves without any hint when he’ll be back or if he will continue the conversation. It disconnects us and creates confusion, a kind of “where was I/ what was I saying?” situation. Repeating ourselves in a delayed conversation is not fun, let alone benefits the speakers involved. The using of emojis in text conversation might be intended to present the tone/emotion of the speaker. Limited types of emojis and the ability to manipulate them while texting clearly indicate there is no sufficient substitute to direct interaction.

 

The lack of face presence in conversation within social media leads to intriguing phenomena of public shaming and bullying. Social media users are limited to user name and profile picture. Some of us are honest enough to say: hey what you see is what you get, me on the web is me in real life. Nevertheless more of us are hiding behind fake name/picture, for apparent reasons: to be anonymous, to hide real identity in order not to be held accountable/responsible for whatever we are (saying) texting online. Twitter users are the champion on public shaming/bullying. The openness and the anonymity of this media make people who don’t meet our standard or don’t behave as we behave, to be the perfect object of judgment, mocking, or even a channel to vent out our emotional distress. Facebook gives us facility to control who sees our profile, who can comment/post on our wall. On the other hand Twitter with its retweet function makes it almost impossible to withdraw or cancel a statement or news, no matter how foolish and playful they might literally mean. Trending topic doesn’t always imply positive recognition, but also mass anger and negative response towards what tweeps see as unsuitable to be around the web at certain moment. The facelessness of the mass, the uncertainty of people’s identities, and the lack of consequences after tweeting result in Twitter as the “perfect” tool for public bullying. Public shaming aims for repentance and behavior corrections, but not public bullying. Its only aim is to humiliate shamelessly one object upon (probably) an honestly inconsiderate tweet, until it finds more interesting object to humiliate. It never thinks how the person humiliated will feel, how public bullying might affect their emotional state, their physical being, their job, their life. It just shames on an object until it runs out of interest in it.

 

I’m not an avid Twitter user, and the recent events with Twitter and Path users have made me hesitant to share anything in social media that might be misunderstood. I see this so-called social media has changed me and many people I know to be as anti-social as:

1) Regularly checking our phone and neglecting the people we’re with.

2) Finding Wifi as a prerequisite to a hang-out place. Seriously?!

3) Unintentionally bullying other people over disagreement in online forum. The anonymity gives us right to say whatever we please, because we’re not facing them and we’re not known to them.

 

Social media is man-invented technology, merely a tool for a more improved life. Even though social media only shows me as a user name with a profile picture, I get to decide if it reduces my humanity and disintegrates me from compassion and empathy towards other people.

Movie Review: Spider-Man Homecoming

I’M SO IN LOVE WITH TOM HOLLAND’S SPIDER-MAN THAT I’M GONNA WRITE A REVIEW IN CAPITALS.

THERE, I WROTE IT.

But I’m going to return to using the proper upper and lower cases for the convenience of your eyes when you’re reading this review, ha-ha.

This movie is FREAKING AWESOME! I was speechless, it was so much better than what I expected. After the overly gloomy and sensitive Toby Maguire and the uninteresting Andrew Garfield versions of Spider-Man, Tom Holland’s was surprisingly fresh and light. It told exactly how it would look and feel if a high school student suddenly possessed a superpower. He would be awkward, sloppy, boastful, and confused. He wanted to brag but in the same time he had to be discreet about it. Thank goodness Peter Parker had Ned as his wing man; otherwise he would grow up right into his adolescence to be a depressing man like Tom Maguire’s Spider-Man who didn’t have anyone to share his secret with. I believe Tom Holland really nailed it when he’s being Peter Parker (a loner, a smart, nerdy, and unpopular kid at school who’s continuously being bullied by Flash), and when he’s being Spider-Man (even when he’s wearing his mask, what could have been his face expressions and emotions if he hadn’t been wearing it, were translated well into his gestures and voice tones). He’s very attractive, funny, and unsettled, with or without the mask. Tom Holland’s portrayal of the character was enough to make me Google him for a few hours to know more of his backgrounds.

Tom Holland is 21 years old, an actor and a trained dancer who’s been performing in musical since he was 12 years old. He does gymnastics, parkour, and was educated in The BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology. Holland adds to the list of British actors taking over the roles of American superheroes, such as Andrew Garfield as previous Spider-Man and Henry Cavill as Superman. From Wikipedia we can know that many non-American actors who are popular in Hollywood are trained in reputable institutions for acting and performing. That alone landed them memorable and important roles which stay in their fans’ hearts over the years, like Henry Cavill (Superman), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), to name a few. Are American actors less trained than their non-American counterparts? I’m not saying that. It’s just that when we’re talking about actors portraying superheroes for both Marvel and DC Cinematic Universes, most names that will come to our minds are not of American origin. Who doesn’t know Hugh Jackman who plays Wolverine for almost two decades? Even his fellow X-Men in the movies, Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen, are also Brits. Henry Cavill is a British actor, the second most notable actor to play Superman after it was portrayed by the late Christopher Reeve, and American actor, in 1978. I was just wondering if the schools attended by these British actors had something to do with them being better and more accomplished actors than the American ones.

Okay, back to Spider-Man movie review. It’s a coming-of-age movie to be honest. It reminded me a bit of “Descendants”, a Disney Original Movie produced in 2015, and their similarity lay in depicting teenagers having superpowers. What I liked about Spider-Man was his eagerness to prove himself and in doing so he screwed up a lot. I could however relate to his efforts; I was once a teenager like he was in the movie. It was so normal, so human to go out there, make mistakes, and try to win somebody’s approval. Spider-Man suit in this movie was sophisticated, but I preferred the blue hoodie and jeans with red accent Peter wore when he was fighting Vulture for the last time. It showed who he basically was, an average teenage boy wearing what other teenagers were wearing in their every day lives. When he’s not shooting spider web from his wrist, I almost forgot that Peter Parker’s a superhero by radioactive accident, because oh because he appeared like every other kid in the block who played hooky to do something else he thought much more interesting. Tony Stark reluctantly took him under his wing and made Peter somehow his protégé. Tony’s taking the Spider-Man suit from Peter and saying that if he’s nothing without the suit, then he shouldn’t be wearing it, was one of the best parts in the movie about directing and setting boundaries for teenager. It’s also a well example of discipline and tough love. Peter was being such a good boy, that even though he fell back into the usual boring routines he had to go through every day as a normal teenager, he didn’t complain or rebel to Tony Stark. I guess he saw it coming considering he did make a mess by interfering with the FBI operation in capturing Vulture and his accomplices. Seeing the ferry torn into two and suspended by his spider web only was just one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a movie this year.

The Vulture. Oh my Batman! Michael Keaton, everybody. He’s as charming as ever and his taking the role of a villain with a slight conscience when it came to his family (even until the end he refused to sell out Spider-Man’s real identity to his fellow inmate, probably because he was grateful to Spider-Man for saving his and his daughter’s lives), was just the right mixture of ruthlessness and compassion. One thing for sure, Spider-Man Homecoming was more realistic to depict American society nowadays. From coming-of-age movie perspectives, this movie was as interracial as it got to describe the composition of youths in American societies nowadays. The high school students here were black, white, Indian, Chinese/Japanese/Korean (I can’t tell), and even Native American (Ned). I was surprised when Vulture was revealed as Liz’s father. An interracial family with white father and black mother, hmm, I didn’t see it coming. The most playful things I saw in the movie were when Spider-Man interrogating the guy who almost bought the gun from Vulture. It was so raw and hilarious, showing that it’s Spider-Man’s first time interrogating a bad guy and he’s not good at it, yet. I was also excited when he got Karen, the voice assistant for his suit and how she’s teaching him the cool stuffs to do with his enhanced suit. Karen’s function was a bit similar to Jarvis’, because hey every superhero is lonelier than most human beings for living behind their secret identities (although it’s not so secretive for Tony Stark/Iron Man) and they do need someone to be their confidantes.

As much as superhero movies are awesome in CGI and combat performances, the lack of new concepts and themes has made them boring. The fresh wind was delivered two years ago by “The Ant Man” starring Paul Rudd. It is a story of a man, an ex-convict, who can change into a kind of ant leader to save the world. How absurd and entertaining is the idea? After watching Spider-Man Homecoming I’m more hopeful to watch other superhero movies. After a series of dreadful, theme-wise, Avengers movies (the Avengers, Winter Soldier, Age of Ultron, and the last one was Civil War), Spider-Man movie is like a coat of fresh paint on a house which has been battered by earthquakes and other unfortunate events. It promises new hope, optimism, and fun. Not forget to mention that the previous actors who played Spider-men were kind of old to play someone who’s still at school. Holland on the other hand is still young (he just turned 21) and looks young that he can still portray a 15-year old kid. I’m hopeful that he will carry out the youth and energy into the other four installments of Spider-Man in Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’m very much looking forward to it.

 

Pleasant Coincidences

Last month my French teacher/neighbor had her farewell party and there she introduced me to her friend. Lena was from Germany and before Cikarang she and her family lived in KL for several years. As we chatted she asked me if I knew any German, because Maud told her that I speak other languages than English. I said yes, I had been studying it since I was a kid because my mother insisted me to. As we started to speak in German, she asked me if I had spent time talking with native speakers. I told her that I spent a couple of days in my uncle’s home in Heidelberg five years ago, and that’s about it. She was very surprised because she happened to go to the University of Heidelberg and she knew the area where my uncle is living with his family. Out of so many cities and so many universities in Germany, it was a pleasant coincidence to meet someone new who happened to know where I had been. Then we started talking about Heidelberg’s old town, her apartment, which was located very close to the university in the downtown, and the grandeur and gorgeous H & M store right around the city square’s corner. Women can easily bond through shopping and the experience of doing so, ha-ha.

 

When I first went backpacking to South Korea in 2004, the hotel which I had booked through email was closed on the day I arrived. Back then I didn’t know booking.com, so I went there with faith that everything would go well. I didn’t have any credit card either, so I brought quite a lot of cash for emergency situation. It was my first backpacking experience and a very nerve-wrecking one. I got into a taxi, which was much cheaper than in Japan, and told the driver to go to the nearest tourist information center. I relied heavily on my Lonely Planet’s guide to South Korea and a few Korean phrases it included. The taxi driver took me instead to a police station where nobody could speak English there. Back then, internet was scarce and I didn’t have any Google translator with me. I was so frustrated that I just asked them how to go to YMCA, because the hostel was mentioned in the book. It’s so funny that even though they didn’t speak any English, they could spell ABC in English. A police car took me from Namdaemun area to Itaewon area. It’s indeed an amusing experience for a first-time backpacker. In YMCA I stayed in a room with six bunk beds and spent two days there before I headed to Daegu and then Busan. The hostel had a common kitchen and one night when I was making a spicy ramen, I got into a conversation with an African-American man who just arrived in the city.

He           : Where are you from?

Me           : Indonesia, currently living in Tokyo.

He           : Really? I’m actually on my way there to visit a friend. I decided to explore Seoul for a couple of days before flying to Tokyo.

Me           : That’s nice. Maybe I know your friend (jokingly said. The fact is, it’s quite impossible to know other foreigners in Tokyo if we don’t share some common backgrounds. Not forget to mention that Tokyo is humongous)

He           : Do you go to church?

Me           : Yes, why?

He           : My friend joins a choir in Tokyo Baptist Church. Her name is Tracy and she’s also African-American.

Me           : (dumbfounded) I sing in soprano section with Tracy.

Then we both rolled out with laughter. Out of so many cities and so many hostels in South Korea, I happened to meet a friend of my friend who was on his way to see her, ha-ha.

 

Five years ago we went to London for the 2012 Olympics and stayed at my college friend’s place for a week. Since we already had the UK visa, we decided to fly to Edinburgh a couple of months after that. We liked collecting Hard Rock Café t-shirts for their good quality of fabric and unusual designs, so the night before we flew back to Switzerland my husband told me to go to HRC to buy some t-shirts for our family. We stayed in Edinburgh for five days and the weather there had been crazy; heavy rain then bright sun all of a sudden. On our last day there we hiked to Arthur’s Seat and our 3-year old daughter was too exhausted to take another bus. So I went to HRC alone and my family went back to the hotel. The café was quite empty that night so a shopkeeper came to help me picking out designs and sizes.

He           : Where are you from?

Me           : Indonesia, currently living in Switzerland.

He           : Cool.

Me           : Are you from around here? You speak differently.

He           : As the matter of fact I came from London. I just started university here.

Me           : Really? From which part of London are you? We went there for the Olympics last July.

He           : (waved his hand) You probably never heard of it; it’s quite far from the city center and the tourist attractions.

Me           : (made a random guess because the name suddenly crossed my mind) Peckham?

He           : (gasped) How did you know?

Me           : (shrugged) I was just guessing, but it’s such a nice coincidence that you’re from Peckham as I stayed there for one week at a friend’s house.

He           : Wow, such a nice coincidence!

Me           : No offense, you don’t actually fit the demographic of Peckham residents.

He           : (grinned at me) None taken, I know it’s rare to see a white guy coming from Peckham.

Me           : (laughed) Exactly, everyone is multicolored there expect for the policemen, I suppose. On the day we arrived, a police officer approached us because he saw my husband taking out his Ipad from his backpack. The officer told us that it’s not safe to do so in Peckham.

He           : It is not. Peckham is sadly still an area with one of the highest crime rates in London.

Out of so many cities in the UK and so many HRC shops, I ran into someone who came from an area where I stayed during my visit to London.

 

All my life I have experienced these kinds of pleasant coincidences and they gave me warm feelings. The world is indeed a small place and I could get connected to someone suddenly, instantly, even though I come from halfway across the world from them. The key to be experiencing all these is to travel a lot and to muster up courage to speak with new people. There is no other way.

 

Remembering this encourages me to browse the internet for our next travel destination. Where shall we go from here?

The Weirdest Dreams I’ve Ever Had

In 2003 I had two classmates in college I didn’t have much interaction with. I was in several group works with them, a boy and a girl, but we never clicked and made it more than a passing acquaintance. One night I dreamed of them telling me that they’re starting to date each other. The dream was so random, it was out of nowhere, and yet it felt so real. The next morning I met them in our morning class and without thinking I asked them, “Are you two dating?” To my surprise they said, “Yes, since last night. We haven’t told anyone about it. How did you know?” I was too dumbfounded to answer so I just told them that I knew it from a dream and left. Later on the girl approached me and asked me again how I knew, since they had been very cautious and secretive about their relationship (they came from different races, religions, socioeconomic status, and so on, and so forth). I only shrugged and told her the same answer; I knew it from a dream.

Was it a premonition? I wasn’t sure, but it was not the only experience I had with having a dream and seeing the realization of it. Back in 2013 I even had a dream about a former friend who wanted to cut ties with me, and the next day he did exactly that through a text message. What an annoying coincidence, ha-ha. The funny thing is it usually has something to do with the people around me, whom I know well or not. I have had thousands of dejavus during my 35 years of living and I never take them seriously. But whenever I had vivid dreams about other people, the next morning I quickly contacted them and asked them how they were doing.

I lived in Tokyo for a year from 2003 to 2004 and I’m still in touch with the people I befriended while studying there. A couple of months ago, I suddenly had a dream of a person from that period of life who told me excitingly that he’s getting a new job. The dream was so weird because I wasn’t even thinking of YSEP (that’s the name of our program) people or seeing the latest Facebook news feeds of any of them recently. So I messaged that friend and I asked him randomly whether he’s changing/getting a new job. I also straightly told him that I saw it in my dream. It was a very ridiculous way to start a text conversation, but I told him nevertheless because he had been a good friend to me back then. To my surprise he told me that he’s going to a seminary soon and is probably getting a new job in the new place. I was once again dumbfounded. Did I have a premonition again? We ended up talking about other things after that but I still had this weird feeling that it wouldn’t be the last random and manifested dream I’d be having.

Fast forward to about a week ago when I had another dream about that same person. In it I saw him being restless and kind of sad, and I was telling him not to worry. I told him that he wouldn’t feel lonely in the new place because our God would provide him with new friends. Friends are given and the best of them will be given by the best Provider. I texted him exactly the same sentences I told him in my dream (yes, the dream was so vivid and every time I had this kind of experience I’d remember the details of what I saw, said, and heard during the surreal experience). To my surprise the friend replied, “Thank you, I needed to hear that.”

What is dream, what is reality, what is deepest wish and hope, and what is a mere fantasy? I’m not saying that I had premonitions, until now I’m not sure about what I had, but I’m glad that I was reminded through dreams to check whether the people who are now in my life, or once crossed their paths with me, are doing well. I like to hear that they’re getting a new job, that they’re embarking on a new career, that they’re having a newborn, and that they’re starting a new relationship. Regardless how absurd the dreams had been, I would never ignore them. I would think about them till I knew what I’d do with them. Through them I had been reaching out to old friends, giving encouragement, making their day. A simple thing like a random dream can be used as an excuse to exchange greetings and what’s going on lately in each other’s lives.

And whenever I had bad dreams about other people, I would be on my knees to pray that the bad things weren’t happening to them. My memory’s pretty good and it made me feel upset for a couple of days if I could still remember the bad images I saw in my dreams.

I’m sending all my love and prayer to those who did and still do cross their paths with me. I hope you all are safe and sound.