June in Jakarta 2010 .. or Edison Chen’s naughty pictures part deux, with Ariel, Luna Maya, and Cut Tari, on the world wide web ..Jun 21st, 2010 | By Dominic Berry | Category: Countries of the World
[UPDATED JANUARY 31, 2011, JULY 24, 2012]. “Globalization” is nothing new, in some ways. It used to be called “imperialism.” Its current incarnation began with the “Portuguese Pioneers” — when Bartolomeo Diaz rounded the Cape of Good Hope in 1488, and Vasco da Gama made landfall on the coast of India 10 years later.
In between these two seminal maritime adventures Christopher Columbus made landfall in what we now call the Americas, in 1492. And then, for deeper background, as Jorge Nascimento Rodrigues and Tessaleno Devezas have argued, in their pioneering book of 2007: “Globalization is an evolutionary … process, initially conceived in China around the 10th century.”
At the same time, we talk about globalization today because some things are quite different than they used to be, in the last high “Age of Imperialism … 1870–1914.” The big Internet sex tapes scandal of the rising global village in early 2008, eg, turned around the post-modern romances of Edison Chen — who was born in Vancouver, Canada, speaks perfect English, Cantonese, Japanese, and Mandarin, and started his career in the Hong Kong entertainment industry.
The “naughty pictures” Edison Chen carelessly left on his computer hard drive turned his life upside down. And they sideswiped the careers of such Hong Kong actress and other girlfriends as BoBo Chan, Cecilia Cheung, Gillian Chung, Candice Chan, Vincy Yeung, Rachel Ngan, and Mandy Chen.
1. More popular than President Obama in Indonesia …
For its further entertainment the global village in the middle of 2010 has “Indonesia’s versions of the Edison Chen scandal” — involving “pop singer Nazril Irham, better known as Ariel … his girlfriend Luna Maya, a top model,” and his former girlfriend, “actress and presenter Cut Tari.”
Like the Edison Chen scandal, these latest Indonesian sex tape adventures have surfaced on the world wide web. And “Indonesia’s communications minister [has] vowed … to issue a decree by the end of the year to ‘save the young’ from pornography on the Internet.”
Meanwhile, as US tea-party birthers will especially recall, Indonesia is also where President Barack Obama spent some time in his childhood, away from his Hawaiian birthplace. Much more recently the president’s plans to visit the country keep getting postponed by such emergencies as the recent BP oil spill on the US Gulf coast.
Such clouds nonetheless have their own silver linings … or so some say. Armando Siahaan has just explained in the Jakarta Globe: “if Obama had come according to plan, there would have been a great possibility that his return to his childhood country would have received zero attention from Indonesians … All eyes and minds in Indonesia are currently on a man who in many ways may surpass the popularity and the prowess of the American president … His name is Nazril Irham, better known as Ariel, the lead vocalist of the band Peterpan.”
Armando Siahaan goes on: Ariel is “the rock star who was suddenly thrust into the public spotlight not because of a new smash song, but because of steamy sex tapes allegedly involving him and actresses and presenters Luna Maya and Cut Tari … Entire swaths of Indonesian society — ranging from janitors to housewives to college students — have been tirelessly viewing and discussing the controversial videos.”
2. Meanwhile again … how is Edison Chen’s comeback working out?
Armando Siahaan’s comments notwithstanding, Indonesia is “home to the world’s largest Muslim population” and still quite conservative about sex — in public at any rate. But according to Jenny Zhu from Shanghai things are changing in China, in this as in so much else.
She writes that in China today: “Sex no longer comes with the same kind of harsh moral judgment it once did … I tend to think that it’s due to indifference rather than true sexual liberation.” Even so, Ms. Zhu also notes that in 2010 “Edison Chen, the Hong Kong star who took sexually explicit photos of himself and his various girlfriends [and then forgot to take them off his computer when he sent it out for repairs], has staged a successful comeback.”
Back in the movies (and Back in the USA) …
When the “naughty pictures of Edison Chen” scandal first broke early in 2008, the young Mr. Chen wisely decided to lay low, and suspend his career for a time. Early in April 2009, however, a movie he had worked on some time before, “Sun cheung sau” or “The Sniper,” appeared in theatres in various relevant parts of the global village. A reviewer from Singapore pointed out: “If not for the picture scandal, this film would have been released about a year ago, and would likely have solidified Edison Chen’s position as box office draw.”
By the early fall of 2009, the wider reaction to “Sun cheung sau” was apparently good enough for a next comeback step: “The furore around the sex snaps forced Chen to flee Hong Kong and the controversy ended the entertainment careers of most of the girls involved … But studio bosses have decided to give Chen another chance, and have signed him up to appear in new English-language comedy ‘Almost Perfect.’”
Still well received in Taiwan and the Mainland …
About a month and a half later, another source reported: “Edison Chen is preparing for his full comeback ever since he completed filming his Hollywood movie, ‘Almost Perfect.’ Edison once said that he was leaving the industry. However … Edison said leaving the ‘Hong Kong’ entertainment industry. Edison’s presence is still well received in Taiwan and the Mainland. Hence, these two places would be the main battlefield for his comeback.”
Late in November 2009, Edison was on TV in Taiwan. He revealed “plans to open a store in Taiwan and denied the rumors of his break up with girlfriend Vincy [Yeung — in the naughty pictures too in some degree, and also the still quite young daughter of a wealthy Hong Kong music industry executive, with alleged ‘triad’ or criminal ‘affiliations’]. He expressed that his relationship with his girlfriend is going very well, but the two have no plans for marriage yet.”
The young Mr. Chen had still more to say on Taiwan TV: “after the Photo Scandal, he was in the United States doing everything himself, no assistant or anything. He said that he was able to find his path in life due to the scandal. He said: ‘Everything happens for a reason (in English), I already found my reason and have already forgiven myself.’ … But, when Reporters asked about Cecilia Cheung becoming pregnant again, he only smiled and did not respond. His manager was besides him and stopped the Media from asking again of questions relating to Cecilia.”
In the middle of December 2009 it was reported that: “Ever since Edison Chen’s new clothing boutique opened its shutters to the public in Shanghai last Saturday, the flow of business has been noticeably brisk for the Hong Kong singer-actor. He was previously rumoured to have received a lump sum of S$4 million in financial assistance from a wealthy female tycoon to open this shop in Shanghai.” Mr. Chen “laughed and waved off rumours which stated that his five boutiques in China were opened with the help of a female tycoon, ‘The news on the internet are fake. There is no such thing. This is my own hard work and money.’”
And then back in Hong Kong too … without bodyguards …
Towards the end of January 2010 it was reported that “Edison Chen bravely appeared at FAMA event without bodyguards” — at the Causeway Bay’s shopping center in Hong Kong. (FAMA, in case you’ve forgotten, “literally meaning farmer in Chinese, is a Hong Kong duo of rapping [Hip-hop] founded by DJ Tommy consisting of members C-Kwan and 6-Wing. They are part of the hip-hop wave in the mainstream cantopop music scene, which was initiated by Edison Chen in the mid-2000s.”)
At Causeway Bay FAMA itself “was shocked to see his presence, C Kwan said: ‘I saw our Boss come out, I felt nervous because we need to have an explanation for our Boss.’ Edison expressed that when he has time he’ll attend events to support FAMA.”
This kind of standing up for your friends (even if he did ruin the careers of half a dozen Hong Kong female entertainers) has presumably been one of the things that prompted Jenny Zhu to conclude, by early June 2010, that “Edison Chen, the Hong Kong star who took sexually explicit photos of himself and his various girlfriends has staged a successful comeback.”
Even now, presumably again, it is somewhat dangerous for Edison Chen to appear in Hong Kong without bodyguards — since there are those in the Hong Kong entertainment industry who would not be unhappy to see him physically harmed (?), in return for the financial and other trouble he caused so many with his naughty pictures of early 2008 (including a young daughter, etc, etc). And we also know that, only several days ago, on June 16, 2010: “Edison Chen attended FAMA’s 2010 Down to Earth concert at the Hong Kong Coliseum to lend support to his rap duo. He was joined by sister, Tricia and his mother; other guests included Kay Tse, Khalil Fong, and geomancer Mak Ling-Ling. Edison opened the concert by reading the lyrics to ‘Imagine’.”
3. Is it really Ariel, Luna Maya, and Cut Tari in the videos?
In some ways the Indonesian pop singer Nazril Irham, aka Ariel Peterpan, does seem to qualify as the Edison Chen of 2010: “Local media said the [alleged] video [of Ariel having sex with current girlfriend Luna Maya] started appearing in early June after Ariel’s laptop was stolen.”
By Saturday, June 12 another video was in circulation, purporting to show Ariel having sex with his former girlfriend, the Indonesian television personality Cut Tari.
But was it really them, part one?
As noted, Indonesia is apparently still more conservative about sex than China. As one consequence, all of Ariel, Luna Maya, and Cut Tari have denied that the people in the “sex videos” are actually them. As early as June 6, the Jakarta Post was reporting: “Artist Luna Maya and boyfriend singer Nazriel Irham alias Ariel Peterpan said a sex tape allegedly of the couple was fabricated, and not theirs.”
Less than a week later, the press was reporting: “After Luna Maya, it’s now actress and presenter Cut Tari’s turn to make the headlines over the leaking of a private sex video onto the web, allegedly showing her and pop band Peterpan’s vocalist Ariel partaking in some steamy bedroom exercise … “
The report went on: “The video, which has been circulating on the Internet over the past two days, has shocked Tari, who hasn’t been seen recently on the infotainment show she regularly hosts … ‘Cut Tari denied the woman in the tape was her. She swore to her family it wasn’t her,’ said the actress’ lawyer Malik Bawazier … ‘She’s truly in shock. She can’t believe someone could do this to her,’ he added … “
Moreover: “Tari’s husband Jusuf Subrata said he believed in his wife … ‘I trust her, and I’m highly confident the woman in the video isn’t Tari,’ said Yusuf, who married Tari in 2004 … ‘I know Tari is a very responsible woman.’”
Islamic puritanism in Indonesia, part one?
Being home to the world’s largest Muslim population would seem to have other consequences as well. As early as June 11, Ariel and Luna Maya were interviewed by the Indonesian National Police about their alleged sex video.
For better or worse: “The two arrived for the much-anticipated questioning almost unnoticed as around 200 activists of Islamic groups staged a rally outside the National Police Headquarters and diverted the attention of most journalists.”
As early as Wednesday, June 9 it was being noted that: “Producing or distributing sexually explicit material carries a maximum penalty of 12 years’ jail under the tough anti-pornography law passed in the mainly Muslim country in 2008 … Muslim lawmakers have said the videos underline the need for tighter controls of the Internet … ‘There should be a heavy punishment for this crime,’ Communication and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring said …”
A mere three days later, it was reported that: “The Communications and Information Technology Ministry claims it has identified the computers used to upload sex videos allegedly featuring Peterpan frontman Nazril ‘Ariel’ Ilham and actresses Luna Maya and Cut Tari.”
Was it really them, part two?
One result of all this, apparently, is that by June 21, 2010, as I write here, the two famous sex videos, of whoever actually appears in them, are not as easy to track down as they were a few weeks ago. But a June 10 report from something called “Indonesia Matters” still provides access to the “rather graphic Ariel and Luna video, which you can download here.” (Rather complicated, for an older techno-disabled person like me, but I somehow managed it in the end.)
I am in no position to judge whether the two people in this video actually are Ariel and Luna. The images are somewhat blurry, however, and judging from the ordinary photos of the real Ariel and Luna on the world wide web, it seems not unreasonable to raise doubts about just who is appearing in the video.
It has also been reported: “Luna Maya is telling that she is not the person in the Video as in the Video shows that a butterfly Tattoo in the Left Thigh but she is not having that.” I can testify that I did catch a glimpse of a butterfly tattoo in the video.
(Another point that has struck me here, to what serious effect I am not at all sure, is that, without being any kind of experienced videographer, some of the shots in the alleged Ariel/Luna short porno movie would almost seem to have to have been shot by a third person. And this may also imply some kind of conspiracy by a group of individuals, none of whom was or is either Ariel Peterpan or Luna Maya or Cut Tari!)
Indonesian puritanism, part two?
Finally, the Indonesian naughty videos of 2010 may not actually involve the entertainment industry stars they claim to portray. But they have nonetheless caused great controversy in Indonesia — in a way that Edison Chen’s naughty pictures of 2008 did not, in any of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China, Hollywood, or Vancouver, Canada.
The June 10 “Indonesia Matters” already had a wealth of illustrations: Internet cafes in Solo doing a roaring trade because of Ariel videos ; High schools raided in Bandung, 12 out of 700 student phones have the videos ; Conference of religious leaders in Jakarta deplores the depravity of it all ; Ikatan Pelajar Putri Nahdlatul Ulama (IPPNU) says porn too easy to access ; Lembaga Monitoring Hukum in Bogor calls for raids on schools to check student phones ; Muhammadiyah leader Din Syamsuddin says porn videos are a logical consequence of modernisation ; Komisi Penyiaran Indonesia (KPI) to take action against TV stations showing parts of the videos ; Batam Education Department says school raids to begin shortly ; Concerned parents in Bandarlampung worry about their children’s access to the internet ; Women’s Empowerment minister Linda Gumelar says videos are proof of moral crisis ; Mayor of Makassar H Ilham Arief Sirajuddin says Peterpan to be blacklisted in Makassar.
Beyond Indonesia itself, a June 13 Associated Press story by Niniek Karmini suggested there is always more than one side to any story as well: “Indonesians grappled with their first-ever celebrity sex-tape scandal, casting aside social taboos as they swarmed around office computers and mobile phones to watch clips allegedly showing a much-loved pop star with two girlfriends … The story topped newscasts for a week and dominated chatter on social-networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. But just as controversial was the reaction of officials in the newly democratic nation … Police initially threatened to charge the “stars” under a strict anti-pornography law … Several high schools were raided for mobile phones so the offending clips could be removed. And some ministers said the incident pointed, once again, to moral decay and the need for stricter controls of the Internet.”
The AP article went on: “As the tapes were downloaded onto Facebook and YouTube (they have since been removed by the sites’ administrator) and distributed from mobile phone to mobile phone, the country tottered on the verge of sexual hysteria … Fifteen-year-old Bintang Irvano, a student at a high school in south Jakarta, huddled around a mobile phone with his two friends to look at the video ‘for about the fourth time’ … He said after teachers started launching daily raids, teens started removing the footage from their phones ahead of class only to later upload it … ‘It’s easy to get it back again,’ said Raikhan Daffa, 16. ‘We just pass it to one another by Bluetooth … Hey, it’s one way to learn about sex’ he said, laughing.
4. Is globalization eroding all old values everywhere?
My own short and succinct answer to this question is simply no, not at all. Think of Cleopatra of Egypt, Theodora of Byzantium, Edward VII in Merrie England, Mae West, Errol Flynn, Mao Zedong, the Song of Solomon, the Kama Sutra, the great American jazz musician Charlie Parker, the harem of the Ottoman Sultan in Istanbul, and the fondness for “andacwander” among the ancient noble Huron, north of the North American Great Lakes.
As in the case of Edison Chen and his unfortunate female companions, Ariel and Luna and Cut Tari in Indoensia this year are considerably more interesting than Paris Hilton, or even Lindsay Lohan (to say nothing of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky). And of course, of course, of course, just think of Tiger Woods!
There are just two unanswered last questions that trouble me. There does seem some kind of backlash to Ariel and Luna and Cut Tari in Indonesia, brewing at the edges of a country tottering on the verge of sexual hysteria. Are many different but similar backlashes breeding … and brooding … everywhere again? Somewhere in the depths of Sarah Palin in the USA, eg — or even Stephen Harper in Canada? It will be interesting to follow just what unfolds in Indonesia this summer, with this broader question in mind.
And then I wonder too: Why do smart people even make sex tapes, or videos, or photo collections … and then carelessly leave them on their hard drives, for people of dubious motivations to find? I wish I knew the answer to this question. But I do not.
I do find some solace in the prospect that Indonesian pop singer Nazril Irham, aka Ariel Peterpan, did not actually make any of the sex videos attributed to him by some evil forces, lurking enviously at his bedroom door. And I will be watching his case here unfold this summer of 2010 and beyond in the global village too, for just what the final truth about all this proves to be.
Meanwhile, a very final concluding thought comes to mind right now. Ultimately, both Edison Chen’s naughty pictures of 2008, and the alleged naughty videos of Nazril Irham in 2010 somehow seem to show that globalization (at least a more democratic version of the old imperialism?) is here for good. Whatever backlashes arise, there will be no major return to the old ways that made so much misery for so many people. And, on balance, that is probably a good thing.
UPDATE, JANUARY 31, 2011: The Indonesian adventures recounted here, from more than half a year ago, have now come to what strikes me personally as a rather sad and even somewhat troubling conclusion — although I’d also agree that it could all have ended still more unhappily. What this conclusion does show, no doubt, is that “globalization” does not mean quite the same kind of thing all over the global village today. Different places still have different ideas about what constitutes acceptable behaviour. From where I sit, I can only offer my condolences to Nazril “Ariel” Irham. Whatever else, I don’t think myself that he deserves to spend any time in jail: “The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation.”
For more on what has happened see: “Indonesian singer Ariel gets 3 1/2 years in jail for celebrity sex-tape scandal … One of Indonesia’s best-known pop stars was sentenced Monday to 3 1/2 years behind bars after sex tapes with his celebrity girlfriends found their way to the Internet, riveting and dividing this predominantly Muslim nation … Liberals said the embarrassment suffered by Nazril ‘Ariel’ Irham — who insists the videos were not intended for public viewing — was punishment enough. But hard-liners were outraged, saying the singer was contributing to the country’s moral decline … Hundreds charged the gates of the courthouse in the city of Bandung after the verdict was read out, yelling ‘Too light! Too light,’ as he sped off in an armoured police car … Ariel, lead singer of the country’s most popular band, Peterpan, was the first celebrity to be charged under Indonesia’s strict anti-pornography law, which came into effect in 2008 despite strong opposition from the public and members of government.”
UPDATE JULY 24, 2012: Nazril “Ariel” Irham was released from prison on parole yesterday, with about a year on his sentence left. For Dominic Berry’s counterweights’ update see “‘As Peterpan’s Ariel Leaves Prison, Some Ask Why He Was Ever There’ .. and that is an excellent question!”.