One Indonesian woman’s crusade against what she called a ‘vulgar’ ad for online shopping site Shopee, featuring famed K-pop group BLACKPINK, led her to launch a petition to have the commercial banned from airing. And it actually worked.
The Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) today issued a press release in which the regulatory body instructed 11 television stations to stop broadcasting the ad. It even went further, warning some of those channels against airing a televised concert featuring BLACKPINK that took place on November 19. KPI wrote that both the ad and the concert violated KPI’s broadcasting standards concerning morality and decency for depicting “several women singing and dancing in revealing clothing”.
Signed by Yuliandre Darwis, the head of Central KPI, the warning was sent to Trans TV, RCTI, RTV, MNC TV, Indosiar, TV One, ANTV, Trans7, GTV, Net, and SCTV — the latter four of which broadcasted the concert as well.
In the release, KPI says it hopes that television stations will comply with the request and that the commission will punish those who continue airing the ad “in accordance with existing regulations.”
KPI did not say if the aforementioned petition had a direct effect on their directive to stop airing the ad, but given the widespread coverage the Change.org petition received, it seems that must have been the case.
However, it seems Shopee is having the last laugh after all, writing in a response on the petition’s page that it was planning to air a different ad starting today anyway.
The petition was launched last Friday by a journalism lecturer named Maimon Herawati and it demanded and sought support for KPI to stop broadcasting the “vulgar” Shopee ad. The petition is still going strong today, having received more than 100,500 signatures as of the time of writing.
“A group of women wearing scantily clad clothes that barely covers their aurat (an Islamic term to describe the parts of the body a person should cover up for the sake of modesty) — what kind of message are we instilling in the pure souls [of this country]?” Maimon wrote in the petition.
Maimon accused the ad of often appearing during the broadcast of children’s programs. After questioning KPI’s role in “protecting the nation’s future generation,” she asked KPI and Shopee to stop broadcasting the ad on social media, in addition to free-to-air and paid TV.
While hundreds of thousands supported and signed the petition, it also got some major backlash from netizens — specifically militant K-pop fans. Maimon’s Instagram account has become a virtual battleground between K-pop fans and netizens who support her petition. On the extreme end of that opposition is another petition on Change.org demanding that Maimon leave Indonesia.
The Shopee ad takedown is the latest in a long list of examples of overzealous TV censorship in Indonesia. KPI is often blamed for TV stations’ overzealous censorship, but the committee has in the past repeatedly clarified that it is the TV stations themselves who decide what to censor on a show-by-show basis. However, KPI sets out strict guidelines for TV stations regarding what they can show in regards to the human body and have the power to sanction those who violate their standards.
“In broadcast standards and regulations article 18, it’s mentioned that TV stations are forbidden from ‘exploiting and/or showing specific body parts, such as thighs, behind, breasts, in a close-up or medium shot,” said KPI head Yuliandre Darwis in a 2016 interview, as quoted by Liputan 6.
Seeing KPI so quickly succumb to public pressure from this petition seems like an ominous sign. While many Indonesians have made fun of the oftentimes ridiculous censorship seen on Indonesian TV, KPI has just sent a message that conservatives can simply pressure them into upholding their moral standards on the country’s airwaves by getting enough people to sign an online petition. Expect to see even more puritanical censorship of women’s bodies (and cartoon squirrels, and robots) on our TVs in the future.