Should we love dangdut too?
Posted October 23, 2008on:
This article was published by The Jakarta Post on October 27, 2008. Read the article on The Jakarta Post, here.
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It may sound funny but I do have a theory that one of the reasons why our young people are losing their national identity is because they hate dangdut.
It’s so obvious, no young and educated Indonesians like dangdut. And I’m not just pointing my finger at my fellow young Indonesians, I have to admit I don’t like it too.
We young Indonesians don’t like it so much that we have been making it as one of the best laughable topics for so many years.
We feel sorry for people who actually dance to the rhythm of dangdut; we feel sorry for people who like Rhoma Irama. We laugh at them so happily knowing that their music is so kampungan and our music is so much cooler.
We can sing any famous American singer’s song perfectly and we know the lyrics by heart.
Modern music concerts are common in this country, and it seems to me that every single one of them can easily attract a large number of young and educated Indonesians.
The Java Jazz Festival, for example, has always been packed with young and educated Indonesians for 4 years although when the festival was first introduced many people thought the ticket prices were unreasonable; but young Indonesians came anyway.
The same organizer just conducted an R&B festival called Soulnation which was successful in drawing a lot of young Indonesians; they paid tickets worth at least Rp 200,000 and didn’t complain. They came in dressing up themselves with the latest R&B outfits copying their idols like Akon and Ashanti.
What’s wrong with not liking dangdut one may ask. Well, it’s not wrong as one of my best friends pointed it out to me that you can’t blame someone for liking one type of music as you can’t blame someone for liking nasi goreng.
But what we don’t realize is that dangdut is our national treasure; It’s part of our national heritage. What we don’t realize is that dangdut is the music of our country; just like Project Pop said through their song “Dangdut is the music of my country” a few years ago.
What we don’t realize is that when we laugh at dangdut thinking that it’s a stupid music, it’s like laughing at keroncong or any other Indonesia’s traditional music genre.
Sometimes I wonder why we can’t fall in love with dangdut while young African Americans can be so proud of their R&B and rap music.
One of the reasons may lie on the fact that we are too arrogant to like the same kind of music that low-income Indonesians like; that we don’t want to put ourselves on the same level with mas-mas and mba-mba.
If that is the kind of mentality that we all share, then I think we should feel sorry for ourselves for thinking that dangdut is so kampungan and that those people who like it just don’t have taste in music. We should feel sorry for ourselves for not realizing how music, like language, could be a very effective medium to unite us all.
Imagine if all young Indonesians, whether poor or rich, could at least agree that dangdut is something we all could enjoy together. We would be more united.
Apparently it’s the responsibility for anyone working in the dangdut industry to find a way to make the music more attractive to young and educated Indonesians, such as my friends and myself.
At the end, I’m not encouraging you to like dangdut. Music is about one’s personal preference, after all. But what I’d like to encourage us all is that instead of mocking those who like dangdut, we all should respect them for being able to express their “Indonesianity” a little bit more than we can.
Picture above taken from here.