If you’re at all familiar with Indonesian politics, you’ll definitely know about the candidates running for office in this year’s presidential election: incumbent President Joko Widodo and his running mate Ma’ruf Amin and their challengers, Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Sandiaga Uno.
News about their campaigns has dominated the media for the last few months but many Indonesians are dissatisfied with both tickets. As if to answer their political aspirations, a new alternative pair of candidates has emerged and they’re already winning the hearts of Indonesian netizens.
Unfortunately, nobody can actually vote for those candidates. Because they’re memes.
At first glance, their “campaign” posters feature all the elements of your standard Indonesian political banner — i.e. two middle-aged men in koko shirts and wearing peci (a black hat traditionally worn by Indonesian Muslim men).
Their posters feature their names, the logo for their party, Partai Untuk Kebutuhan Iman (Party For Faith Needs) and the coalition that supports them, Koalisi Indonesia Tronjal Tronjol Maha Asyik (which roughly translates to Super Fun Willy-Nilly Indonesia Coalition).
They seem so legit they even have their own theme song, sung by Google’s automated voice:
Nurhadi-Aldo’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts were created between mid to late December 2018. Since then they have gained a huge number of followers in quite a short time: more than 163K followers on Facebook, more than 51K followers on Twitter and 241K followers on Instagram.
But this is no standard campaign. For one, those familiar with crude Indonesian slang will quickly notice that their campaign materials are teeming with sexual innuendo. For example, the font color choices in the fake candidates’ names highlight that their combined nickname is “Dildo” — thanks to some arbitrary abbreviation. Also, the abbreviation of their party’s name is “PUKI”, which is a vulgar local slang term for female genitalia that is popular in areas including North Sumatra and South Kalimantan.
Meanwhile, the slogan in the poster above abbreviates to MEKI, a vulgar local slang word, popular in Jakarta, that also refers to female genitalia.
To descend further into filthy abbreviations, let’s take a look at Dildo’s programs. For example, there’s “Program Subsidi Tagihan Warnet Bagi Umum” (Subsidy Program for the Public’s Internet Cafe Bills), which is abbreviated to “Prostat Bau” (“Smelly Prostate”); “Perencanaan Reklamasi” (Reclamation Planning) is “Perek” (prostitute); “Perekonomian Juara” (Champions of Economy) is “PeJu” (semen).
It’s not completely comedy, as Dildo’s campaign does try to raise awareness about real, serious issues such as the rampant sexual harassment in Indonesia, even if they only offer a jokey solution to the problem — the Kotak Materialisasi Pengatur Bantuan Ilusi (Illustration Aid Materialization Box) program, which abbreviates to “Kotak Masturbasi” (masturbation box), which they say they want to provide to the public. They’ve also expressed support for LGBT rights.
Dildo also has a program to legalize weed in Indonesia through Peli Gajah (which can be interpreted as “Elephant’s Penis”) and a Halal Weed Legalization Program.
Lately, Dildo’s campaign has seemed more tinged with leftist politics, as seen on some posters that superimpose Karl Marx’s signature moustache and beard onto Nurhadi’s face.
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Kenapa tidak pernah ada calon pemimpin yg terlahir dari kelas bawah seperti Nurhadi, yg hanya berprofesi sebagai tukang urut alat vital. Padahal didalam negara yg menjujung tinggi demokrasi sluruh rakyat dapat berpartisipasi didalamnya. Menurut Bapak Nurhadi alasanya karena…. #McQueenYaQueen #NurhadiAldo2019
But our favorite program is arguably the most absurd among the bunch: giving a ball to every soccer player in Indonesia, so they don’t have to fight over scoring a goal, as a radical solution to eradicate soccer gambling altogether.
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Akhir – akhir ini Indonesia sedang ramainya kasus pengaturan skor. dengan terkuaknya kasus tersebut membuat orang – orang menjadi tidak percaya kepada PSSI. Paslon Nurhadi – Aldo memberikan solusi untuk mencegah berulangnya kasus pengaturan skor, yakni pemberian bola untuk setiap pemain bola. Andaikan semua bola telah terbagi, maka seluruh pemain tidak harus berebut bola untuk mencetak gol. Jika tidak Ada gol, maka tidak ada tim yang menang dan kalah. Jika tidak ada tim yang menang dan kalah, maka ada 2 kejadian : 1. Jika tidak ada tim yang menang dan kalah, maka tidak ada perjudian. Jika tidak ada perjudian, maka tidak ada mafia bola. Indonesia terbebas mafia bola. 2. Jika tidak ada tim yang menang dan kalah, maka tidak ada keributan. seluruh suporter tidak ada yang bertikai. terciptanya keadaan Indonesia yang maha asyik. #NurhadiAldo
Who are Dildo?
According to an article by BBC Indonesia, Nurhadi-Aldo are fictional presidential and vice presidential candidates created by a group of people who said they were fed up with negative campaigning in the lead up to April’s elections. There are eight people involved in running Nurhadi-Aldo’s social media accounts, aged 17-23, hailing from different cities across Indonesia.
The admins, who also manage several other meme or shitpost social media accounts, say they had never met in person before building their “coalition” online. They claimed that it took zero rupiah (they pay their own internet bills) to create Nurhadi-Aldo, and everyone has their own dedicated task.
The admins behind Nurhadi-Aldo say they don’t want their campaign to be just another shitposting account. Behind their jokes and absurd contents, they want to criticize Indonesian politics and society in general; their main message being we cannot change anything if we just keep fighting each other.
“There are too many black campaigns going around on social media, they ridicule each other. People are even more split by who is supporting who. Nurhadi-Aldo are here to reduce the conflicts between both camps,” one admin told BBC Indonesia on Thursday.
As such, the admins say they’re not behind either of the real presidential candidates, despite accusations otherwise from some in the public.
According to Ari Junaedi, a political communications expert from Universitas Indonesia (UI), Nurhadi-Aldo went viral because people are fed up with the current political climate.
Who are Nurhadi and Aldo IRL?
After going viral, the local media was able to identify the two figures who are the face of the Dildo meme.
Nurhadi is a masseuse hailing from Golantepus Village in the Kudus Regency of Central Java. He has been famous among Indonesia’s shitposters since 2014, mainly for the bizarre quotes and selfies he often posts on his Facebook page.
The seemingly made up term “Tronjal-tronjol” is also actually based on Nurhadi’s own quote in a Facebook post, way before Nurhadi-Aldo was created.
His running mate Aldo also became famous among Indonesia’s shitposting community around 2016-2017, specifically for the way the middle-aged man wrote his posts in an alay (tacky or cheesy) manner.
Just like Nurhadi with his “Tronjal-tronjol”, Aldo used the term “Maha Asyik” often in his posts.
In an exclusive interview with Kumparan, Nurhadi said he was first approached by a man named Edwin, one of the admins of the Dildo campaign. Nurhadi said Edwin had been following his internet posts and wanted to make his face and name to go even more viral.
Nurhadi said he’s not actually acquainted with his fictitious running mate, Aldo. When asked about the innuendo-filled abbreviations in the campaign, he said he didn’t mind but initially had some doubt about the “Dildo” abbreviation.
“Well, [Dildo] is um, that kind of device. But when Edwin told me the abbreviation was intended so people could remember the account easily, he was right,” Nurhadi laughed.
Nurhadi says he has offered his own input on the campaign, including the SmackQueenYaQueen (read: “Semakin Yakin”, meaning “more certain”) slogan and hashtag.
“I keep on pushing [the slogan and hashtag] so people won’t only remember Dildo, because, as humans, we have to be confident to go on in our lives,” Nurhadi said.
Nurhadi is also famous for his love of the number 10, even going so far as to create an online a community for it. He suggested that Dildo adopts the ballot number 10, as one represents the monotheistic God, while zero represents sincerity.
“We want to be the best, so we have to remember to love God and be sincere in every good deed we do,” Nurhadi said.
Well, no matter how many followers they earn on social media, Dildo won’t become the leaders of this country (at least in this year’s election), but they are clearly resonating with young people who are tired with Indonesian politics as they are now. Is their viral rise to fame a sign that the country’s youth are becoming more apathetic towards politics or that they are just in that desperate a need for some kind of real alternative? Either way, at least they’re having a laugh.