So a lot of people were shocked when Indonesian TV channels started censoring children’s cartoons like Doraemon and Spongebob Squarepants. But most Indonesians probably didn’t think much of it because ultimately it was about “protecting the children” and “traditional Indonesian culture”.
But at what point will people start saying “enough is enough” when it comes to censorship? Maybe when the increasingly conservative KPI (Indonesian Broadcasting Commission) start trying to protect Indonesians from their own culture?
Last Saturday the Puteri Indonesia 2016 pageant was broadcast on local channel Indosiar, with Kezia Warouw from North Sulawesi emerging as the winner (she will go on to represent Indonesia at the Miss Universe pageant).
But some netizens noticed that television censors were blurring out parts of some contestants wearing traditional Indonesian kebaya, which is considered to be one of the national costumes of Indonesia.
The original image comes from twitter user Ferdiriva Hamzah (@ferdiriva) but it got even more retweets after well-known stand-up comedian Ernest Prakasa shared it with this despairing line:
“Oh God what is happening to this country…”
Now, Indonesia and beauty pageants have a history of controversy over contestants wearing revealing bikinis. But, as far as we know, this is the first time the censors have gone after the very slight amounts of skin shown off by traditional Indonesian dress.
Again and again we hear from conservatives that censorship is necessary to protect “traditional Indonesian culture”. But the kebaya is about as traditional a part of Indonesian culture as you can get. So whose culture are they trying to protect exactly?