Job Title Baru: Public Relations

Selain mencari uang melalui Nella Fantasia dan lini bisnisnya, gue juga mengobral semua hal yang bisa gue lakukan. Gue menjual tulisan, menjual lidah untuk menawarkan produk orang lain, dan salah satu yang terbaru, gue juga menjual tenaga, pikiran, dan waktu sebagai seorang Public Relations.

Public Relations pada dasarnya jenis pekerjaan yang sangat baru bagi gue. Belum pernah punya pengalaman ini sebelumnya, walaupun bidang hubungan masyarakat bukanlah hal yang baru-baru amat karena dulu kuliah sempat belajar.

Tanggal 13 Januari yang lalu jadi hari bersejarah bagi langkah gue sebagai seorang Public Relations. Kutipan dan nama gue masuk di artikel. Lumayan banget buat nambah-nambah portofolio di kolom pencarian Google. Sekarang kalau ngetik nama gue di Google, akan ada 1 artikel yang nyebut nama gue sebagai orang Public Relations. Hahaha. Norak banget ya gue.

Semoga ini menjadi batu loncatan karya gue selanjutnya sebagai seorang Public Relations.

Kalau mau baca artikelnya bisa dibaca di sini

Gue copas sekalian aja deh biar gampang. Sumber

Understanding Indonesia’s supernatural obsession – Part 1

Recently, it was announced that ‘Impetigore’ (‘Perempuan Tanah Jahanam’) by Joko Anwar has been officially nominated as Indonesia’s pick for the Oscar’s ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category. Ever since its release in October 2019, the movie has earned massive critical acclaims, which include winning the Melies International Festival Federation (MIFF)’s award for Best Asian Film at the Buncheon International Film Festival (BIFAN).

This is certainly ground-breaking, in the sense that no other Indonesian horror movies have garnered such acclaims before. Previously, the action flick ‘The Raid’ was the most internationally renowned Indonesian movie.

However, horror has always been the Indonesian film industry’s golden child when it comes to popularity. Horror sells, thriller thrills. The Indonesian public cannot seem to get enough of this genre. Indonesian horror genre’s biggest breakthrough came in 1971 with Suzzanna’s star-making performance in ‘Beranak dalam Kubur.’

The genre was drastically revived between 1981 and 1991, during which there were 84 local horror movies produced and released, with Suzzanna starring in many of them. The most iconic snippet of her work is arguably the ‘satay scene’ from the 1981 movie ‘Sundelbolong,’ which has since become a meme – which is a major indicator of a material’s popularity these days.

More recently, in 2019 a Twitter thread titled “KKN di Desa Penari” by a user called ‘SimpleMan’ or @SimpleM81378523 became viral. The story was said to have been inspired by true events, with decisive alterations by SimpleMan to protect the identity of the people involved. The story follows a group of university students who were completing their community service programme in a remote village in Java.

The story itself, told in a combination of Indonesian and Javanese, is engaging, intriguing and relatable to a lot of young adults in Indonesia, with its themes of college, friendship and young love. It got so popular that within months a movie and a book of the same title were announced and scheduled to be released.

Meanwhile, people started to become curious about the exact location of Penari village and the people who were involved in the story. Using the clues provided by SimpleMan, the public, content creators and mass media alike began their own investigation to find the exact location of the place, and various speculations began appearing on the internet. Later on, a photo of a young man speculated to be Bima from the story began circulating the internet, though it was later proved to be a hoax.

To be fair, going on expeditions to investigate urban legends was not born in response to the ‘KKN di Desa Penari’ phenomenon. In fact, for some, it is a beloved past time activity. There are communities spread across Indonesia that focus on ghost photo-hunting or investigating haunted spots in their city. This then grows and becomes a sub-sector of the tourism industry in itself, also known as mystical tourism.

Image: A tourist visiting the home featured in Satan’s Slave courtesy of Hilya Ardhia
Image: A tourist visiting the home featured in Satan’s Slave courtesy of Hilya Ardhia

Mystical tourism comes in many forms. One example is a city tour of visiting different ‘haunted’ spots with the assistance of a tour guide and a spiritual guide. Another example is the antique government-owned house in Bandung, West Java, which was featured in Joko Anwar’s 2017 horror film ‘Satan’s Slave’ (‘Pengabdi Setan’).

The house was a temporary residence for visiting employees of PT Perkebunan Nusantara VIII, but has since been transformed into a tourist attraction following the movie’s nationwide success. The spot is now managed by the employees of PT Perkebunan Nusantara VIII and is open 24 hours (pre-pandemic) for mystical tourists and curious civilians.

Sometimes, a mystical tourist spot may not even advertise itself as one. Some places and buildings are just widely known as mystical hotspots for certain features they posses. Examples include Room 308 at the Grand Inna Samudera Beach Hotel in Pelabuhan Ratu and Hotel Tugu Malang for its famous Oei Hui Lan photo.

So why are we so interested in the supernatural? Are we just inherently curious or do we secretly enjoy being frightened? After all, another ‘mystical’ tourism spot – loosely speaking – is the ever popular haunted house attractions often found in public fairs, such as the annual Jakarta Fair.

There are several different scientific explanations as to why we love to be thrilled or frightened. A study by Clasen, Kjeldgaard-Christiansen, and Johnson (2020) found that while frightening media may be initially aversive, people who score high in sensation seeking and intellect/imagination traits, in particular, like intellectual stimulation and challenge and expect not just negative but also positive emotions from horror consumption. They brave the initially aversive response to simulate threats and so enter a positive feedback loop by which they attain adaptive mastery through coping with virtual simulated danger.

TFR interviewed several fans of horror content to learn why they enjoy such offers; the answers range from relieving stress to curiosity about the afterlife and the desire to learn more about it. Curiously, many of them reveal that they continue consuming such content despite being fearful. Vira, one of our respondents, admits that at the height of her fascination she could be renting ten horror DVDs and finish them all in one week.

This has been a phenomenon with formidable staying power. Indonesians have always had relationships with the supernatural in some capacity, and as we move towards a more digitalised society, we start seeing the collision between the supernatural and the digital world. Beyond being a platform for horror content, there have been other business opportunities that marry the two together, such as the one ventured by Warunggaib.

Warunggaib is the first and only e-marketplace in Indonesia that connects sellers, buyers, collectors, fans, and providers of antiques and spiritual services. According to Anggara Gita (Angga), Warunggaib’s public relations representative, the platform – which was launched in October 2020 – was developed because the founders saw a gap between demand and supply when it comes to a marketplace for gaib or spiritual commodities.

They saw that: 1. There are many fans and collectors of antiques, valuable collectibles and heirlooms in Indonesia 2. The collector, indigo and spiritual communities need a safe and trusted platform.

Users can download the app or go to their website to seek out services from various categories, including non-medical healing, aura opening, ghost-hunting and antique marketplace. “We want to maintain our local wisdom, and the antiques and spiritual items featured on Warunggaib are products of that local wisdom,” Angga adds.

Clearly, mystical matters and spiritual lore have been and always will be part of the Indonesian society. They do not diminish with time; instead, they transform effortlessly to fit the time. This fluid nature ensures that they will always be relevant to generations to come.

In the next part of this two-part series, we will dive deeper into the Indonesian society’s relationship with the supernatural, how it began, how it affects our way of life and some of the things we need to understand.

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