Saturday, October 18, 2014

Presenting A Paper on "Lady Terminator" this month

I will present one of my chapters at UEA's Study Day. The title of my presentation is "“The Real Guilty Pleasure”:   Lady Terminator¸ Sexuality,  and Public Censorship in Indonesia".

FTM Study Day will be held on Wednesday 29th October 2014,  at UEA's Julian Study Centre 1.02. The theme is "Mediating Desire: Sexuality and Contemporary Media". If you are around, please do come. I willl have my presentation at 9.30 am.

Here's the abstract:

Keywords: Indonesian exploitation film, New Order regime, Media Reception, Public Censorship,Lady Terminator

After passed strict censorship board,  Pembalasan Ratu Laut Selatan (Tjut Djalil, 1988, Indonesia) or Lady Terminator was withdrawn from national distribution in 1988 due to  violence and, mainly, sexual scenes after 9 days on theatrical release in Indonesia.  Society, particularly public figures—from senators and journalists to religious leaders---blamed censorship board for being softened, some suspected that they might be bribed, for releasing the films.  Some people even planned to sue the board. Tempo Magazine, the biggest magazine,even picked up this issue as their headline, with the tagline “Astaghfirullah Film Indonesia” (Oh My God, Indonesian Movies!). The situation above is unique because it is notoriously known that Indonesia’s New Order (1966-1998) undertook state control on every aspect of life, including sharp censorship and controlling film organizations. The government also framed movies to “search for the real Indonesian faces on screen” and “represent the true Indonesian culture”, which means excluding violence and erotic scenes from the screen.  On the other hand, in this case, the film already passed the official censorship board, but was opposed by public and subsequently got withdrawn.

I assume that the film caused moral panics within the society because it was considered as a  ‘threat to societal values and interests’ (Cohen, 1972, p.9) and challenged legitimate culture. Bylooking at the media reception in 1988, this paper will investigate the bigger context of Indonesia’s political and social situation regarding the withdrawn of the film and social anxiety surrounding it. Particularly, I want to interrogate how various Politics of Tastes (government, culture elites, mainstream society, and film producers) interacted, contradicted, and negotiated within this case.

PS: "Lady Terminator" is one of the most popular Indonesian transnational exploitation films. It is also included in "100 Cult Films" by Xavier Mendik and Ernest Mathijs.