“As Peterpan’s Ariel Leaves Prison, Some Ask Why He Was Ever There” .. and that is an excellent question!

Jul 23rd, 2012 | By | Category: In Brief

On this very hot and languorous summer day in the Great Lakes region of North America, the news from the mysterious east has finally drifted in on some erotic sunbeams: “Nazril Irham Freed” ; “Peterpan’s Ariel Is Finally, Sort of, Free” ; “Mixed reactions greet pop star’s parole” ; and “Ariel Will Publish A Memoir On Life In Prison.”

For those who may have forgotten, all this relates to a sad story I first wrote about more than two years ago, in “June in Jakarta 2010 .. or Edison Chen’s naughty pictures part deux, with Ariel, Luna Maya, and Cut Tari, on the world wide web ..”

(I suppose I should also point out, that less than a week before this item appeared, the irrepressible Citizen X had foreshadowed its forthcoming, in a kind of footnote to a post dealing mostly with other subjects, entitled “Happy summer holidays Canadian House of Commons .. goodbye to all that British monarchy, etc, etc, etc ..” For my purposes here today, more than two years later, it’s the “ etc, etc, etc ..” part that counts!)

Luna Maya as a “Blackberry Girlfriend,” January 2012. Neither of Ariel Peterpan’s female sex tape partners has gone to jail!

The key to the “June in Jakarta 2010” post was summarized in two main paragraphs: “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.’”

Peterpan vocalist Nazriel 'Ariel' Irham singing his new single 'Dara' during the launch of his new album at Kebon Waru Penitentiary in Bandung, April 2011. (Antara Photo/File).

Sadly, in an update to this June 2010 posting, on January 31, 2011, it was my unhappy duty to report that Nazril Irham — aka Ariel, lead singer of the Indonesian pop rock group Peterpan — had been “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.”

(Or, as the Wikipedia article on the Peterpan rock group has put it: “In January 2011, Bandung’s District Court sentenced Ariel to three and a half years imprisonment after testimonies by digital forensic experts confirmed that Ariel was the male counterpart in the sex tape scandal involving Luna Maya and Cut Tari, and that he was responsible for the creation of the videos. In April, an appeal to the High Court was rejected, with judges deciding unanimously to uphold the sentence given by the District Court.”)

Cut Tari in tears, when the sex tapes somehow went public, in 2010.

It is now my somewhat happier duty to report that, as explained by the Jakarta Globe : “Two and a half years since homemade sex videos with his celebrity girlfriends became one of the biggest controversies in the conservative Indonesian society, Nazril “Ariel” Irham is once again a free man … Well, sort of. The front man of the local band Peterpan will be on probation for the next year under strict conditions.”

Those of us who have felt that Ariel should never have gone to prison in the first place can only be pleased enough by this event, even if the Jakarta Post has reported that “Mixed reactions greet pop star’s parole.”

I have already outlined my own non-Indonesian citizen-of-the-world views in my “June in Jakarta 2010” post — where, among other things (and in the January 2011 update), I quoted former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s edict that “The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation.” For whatever it may or may not be worth, the current Indonesian commentary I agree with most is also from today’s Jakarta Globe, and it’s entitled “As Peterpan’s Ariel Leaves Prison, Some Ask Why He Was Ever There.”

This is an excellent question, I think. It is a credit to Indonesia that there are Indonesians raising it today. And it reminds me of the last few sentences of “June in Jakarta 2010,” where “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.”

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