The shape of the world a generation from now will be influenced far more by how we communicate the values of our society to others than by military or diplomatic superiority. William Fulbright, 1964

Sunday, January 25, 2015


BTW: Scowling and pouting to fame
“Well, hi there chickadees!  What lovely people we have here today – you all look gorgeous!
“Oh, but it’s so sad I can’t employ everyone for my spectacular new sinetron series High School  Headscarf  Ghost’s  Revenge, but I absolutely know you’ll understand. The Bung Karno Stadium seems a little crowded with hopefuls, so let’s get sorted.
“As you’ve read in the talent call, we only need white-skinned adults who look like adolescents minus acne, so if your Pop was a Caucasian – well that should be fine. If you’ve got blue eyes and black hair, even better.
“I see you’re having a wardrobe malfunction there, dewdrop.  Straps aren’t what they used to be, are they?  Is that your cellphone number tattooed on your …?  Well, I do admire ambition. Fame’s heading your way fast, sweetlips. After the series you can sell shampoo or toilet cleaner on TV.
“For the rest of you – better luck next time, cherubs!
“Wait a minute – you, the dark guys.  We’ve got interchangeable parts for security guards and thugs.  Have a word with my personal assistants while I chat up, sorry, chat with these beautiful people.
“Any questions? You say you can’t act?  No worries snookums, I can’t direct.  Ha, ha.  That’s a joke, right. You want this gig? So laugh.  You’re not auditioning for Twelfth Night.  Frankly, the fewer brains the better.  Now we’ll give you a test.
“I want the guys to imagine they’ve just been jilted.  Let me see you frown and snarl … get those mouths tightening and eyes hardening.  Flare the nostrils – great, great …how about a bit of wall punching, even better.
“Now the girls.  Pout, please.  Sweep hair back, fold arms, stare into the distance, play with neckline, roll eyes.  Marvellous, just marvellous.
“The next bit is tricky, but I know you’ll all go full throttle.  We call it the sneaky scene.  It’s compulsory. Crouch behind that artificial shrub and look like you’re eavesdropping.  Now the same with a door slightly ajar. React.  Look aghast. Mmm, not too bad.
“I’ll just bandage Fifi’s forehead, and she’ll lie down.  Yes, I did memorize your number, but thanks for showing me again.  The guys will be given white jackets, thick rimmed glasses and stethoscopes.
"Sinetron give a misleading portrait of life"
“Drape ‘em round your neck so we know you’re a doctor. The stethoscopes, not the spectacles. They’re for peering over. That’s what docs do. The wall poster of a skeleton proves this is a hospital. You’ve diagnosed a case of terminal over-acting, so look serious, scribble on a clipboard. Yes, a question?

“What, can you write a prescription? Yeah, for cyanide, and you can take a dose.  I call the shots round here and we don’t need smart arses on the set.  Not you, Fifi, yours is smart enough.
“You’ll see we’ve brought a car into the studio.  You’re right, it is the latest Mercedes W222.  This is a teenage series centered around a state school, so we need to keep the props authentic.
“The driver is the principal and he’s going to run you over because you’re ruining his career with black magic. So fall in front of the car as though you’ve been hit.
“Fifi, that was very good.  Hey boys, did you see how she rolled over and displayed her .. you did? That’s star stuff. You’ll get to Parliament yet. Now, now girls, no eye gouging.
“Finally we’ll try the family denouement scene ready for Ramadhan. The plot is complex - our script team pored over this for weeks - so pay attention. All sit on the sofas. Thrust has brought Lust home, but she’s not wearing a jilbab.  Mom explains that no-one beds her boy who isn’t modestly attired.  Lust agrees, and a headscarf magically appears. Good, eh?  I feel an award coming on.
“OK.  Boys glance sideways at each other.  Say nothing. Nod. Appear wise and noble. Excellent.  Girls sob into tissues and look pious.  Even better! Cut!
“Leave your resumes and we’ll call you if the screen tests shake out.  Fifi, I need to know more about your talent, honeychild.  It’s been a hard day, but you guys make me feel so proud to be in such a creative industry.” Duncan Graham

(First published in The Jakarta Post Sunday 25 January)

No comments: