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History, Propaganda, and Perception: A Conversation on Gie

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Perhaps Ms. Rahman and Mr. Agusta need to enroll in Cultural Customs of Indonesia 101 before reviewing "Gie." I found it fascinating that both critics would speculate on the hidden undertone of homoeroticism in "Gie" based on scenes portraying physical contacts between Gie and his childhood buddy Han and that portraying physical distance between Gie and the two young ladies. It must be pointed out that physical contact between two people of the same gender was (and is) perfectly acceptable in traditional Indonesian society, whereas any physical contact between a man and a woman was (and is) highly frowned in Indonesia. This is the reason why two male friends such as Gie and Han could go around town holding hands and no self-respecting Indonesian would raise an eyebrow. More eyebrows would have certainly been raised had Gie been more physical with Ira and Sinta in public. Certainly Indonesian mores are changing on the subject of interactions between the genders thanks to further exposure to the West and budding awareness of the gay movement in Indonesia. As a result, it is no longer considered as acceptable for two men to hold hands in public as it used to be. Nor are Indonesians as quick to sneer when they see a couple holding hands in public. But the portrayal of the interactions between Gie and Han, and between Gie and the girls falls perfectly normally within traditional Indonesian mores. There are very few homoerotic scenes in "Gie." Gie's interactions with his buddies are not those. Perhaps Edward Said had been right all along....

Posted by: Ray Hervandi at March 21, 2008 - 04:57 PM


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