This is a follow up to a minor rant I posted here last month.
In it I criticised the lack of substance in the new Sunday supplement, JPlus, and included an extract of an email I sent to the editor of the Post, and to the editor of JPlus, Bruce Emond, at the beginning of last December.
I had written to Bruce a year earlier, taking the moral high ground when he was editor of the generally more substantial monthly Weekender magazine. I said then that “as Jakartass, I hope that my musings help to change the Suhartoist mindset, to highlight the hypocricy and short-termism which is prevalent here (and, it must be said, throughout much of the world) among politicians and the corporate interests to which they are beholden.”
If that sounds pompous, so be it, but as Jakartass nears its 10th anniversary, I trust my ‘voice’ has been consistent, has stirred debate and occasionally been prescient. As a social activist with a curiosity and an ecletic collection of interests, I rely on a balanced drip-drip approach to effect change, rather than describing folk as ‘pigs’* in order to achieve more immediate results.
Just over a week ago I received a courteous reply to my email from Bruce who explained the role of JPlus thus: … it is a lifestyle supplement that is intended to develop our community, including in reaching out to advertisers with a product that provides an arena forum for them. That is why we focus on lifestyle topics – food, fashion, people profiles, including urbanites and socialites, travel – to develop our network.
Life v Lifestyle
There are three words there which I don’t understand: lifestyle, urbanites and socialites. Actually, I do understand that last one because if I’m esconced in my home office doing some writing or playing solitaire on my computer ‘Er Indoors is engrossed in the MNC Infotainment TV channel.
Thankfully, she rarely shares the trivial goings on of the nonentities she gazes at who are only selebritis for being visible for their five minutes of fame. From the little I can gather, if it weren’t for inherited wealth or for having been a lingerie model or dangdut singer who’s been given expensive cars and houses by corrupt politicians, they wouldn’t even have that long.
None of them are aspirational role models, although the expression ‘there but for fortune…’ probably holds true for the masses glued to their TVs once they’re free from the shackles of seeking their daily bread rice. People with lives are expected to give them up in favour of a consumerist ‘lifestyle’.
Bruce continued: The edition that you took issue with, particularly its choice of profile subjects, was part of the bid to reach out to members of the Jakarta community, and from different backgrounds.
Of course, the Post is not the daily read of the aspirational classes because the cover price is equal to three packs of supermie. Besides, the language of the opinion articles in particular is geared for those with university post-graduate level English. Unfortunately, ‘lifestyle’ English doesn’t seem to encompass free will and the ability to ‘think’ but merely to follow trends; it’s all surface and short-term, which suits advertisers very well thank you.
But, take heed of my title.
Yesterday’s JPlus had substance; only three out of the sixteen pages held absolutely no interest for me: fashion and accessories are ephemeral. The issue which I originally took – erm – issue with had only one page which could possibly have interest for a graduate of a genuinely academic university course.
I’d be more than happy to give you the links to these articles, but the Post’s main site doesn’t now have a search box, and the JPlus is not linked to at all as far as I can make out.
In fact, I wonder if the supplement is part of the paper at all. Why else would one particular syndicated article – How to deal with a violent child crop up again in today’s Post?
Anyway, Bruce, please keep up the good work and continue to feed us articles with substance. A diet of nibbles and snacks is bad for the brain.
Oh, and do please see what you can do about getting us a crossword for the Sunday Post so that we have something to occupy our minds while undertaking the Monday morning commute.
*Innasova, a Bulgarian, wrote in English but in using the word ‘pigs’ to describe those who wantonly litter she, possibly unknowingly, upset Islamists who focussed on her ‘insult’ rather than the context of her post. As a non-native user of English, good though hers is, she was unaware of the colloquial connotations.
There are a number of uses of words in the porcine lexis:
– to ham it up: He’s a ham (amateur actor)
– to bring home the bacon (take home pay)
‘pig’ and ‘hog’ both denote greed
Someone who uses two lanes of a jalan tol is a ‘road hog’
Inna’s use was therefore not really appropriate.
The word I would have chosen is ‘boar’: someone who behaves out of self-centered ignorance and/or selfishness. That’s a good description of litter bugs.