Wednesday, October 9, 2013

JKT48 Theater Show From the Eyes of an Outsider

Let me begin by saying that JKT48 Theater was a "7/10" show for me. It was my first time watching the show, and that was my first impression towards it. It will probably remain as my only impression, though, since I don't see myself going to this show again. Despite the decent score that I give, I just don't think this "theater" stuff is for me; I see no appeal in it. But before I go further with my review, let's make one thing clear first. JKT48 Theater--what is it exactly?

JKT48 Theater is basically a show which consists of dancing and singing, albeit lip-syncing, that is performed by a large number of young girls. When I said young, I meant between teens and probably early 20's. Ripe, no? Anyway, what separates Theater (short for JKT48 Theater) from the other music concerts is the concept of increased interaction between fans and singers--or idols, if you'd rather call it that way. In every 3 or 4 songs they perform, there will be breaks in-between, during which, some of the girls are filling the stage by doing activities such as emceeing, interacting with the crowd, and making friendly jokes among themselves. This sort of activities happens 4 or 5 times during this show that lasts for 2 hours. I say it's a good strategy for the idols to change their costumes and breathe a little bit.

As a person who went to see it for the first time, I got a little bit of a "culture shock" when the show had just started. "Whoa", I thought. So many girls on stage. It was a party of fifteen or so, correct me if I'm wrong. It was unusual for me who is used to see four or five members of a band on stage. Apparently that wasn't the only surprise, more were coming my way. The next shocking thing for me happened in the beginning of the first or the second song: the girls were stripping! Well, not exactly stripping like in a strip club or anything, but they took off their jackets on stage while dancing, so we saw them in what looked like a high school uniform now. Okay, so far we've got plenty of young girls on stage, wearing uniforms, dancing in front of us... What else can we expect? Hmmm... Suggestive dancing between two girls? You bet. And finally, the last surprise is sort of my favorite. After the girls finished one of their early songs, suddenly the rhythm of the show changed. The girls didn't continue singing another song; they were emceeing instead. Well, this was unusual for me. They became self-hosting performers now. In this segment each of the girls got the chance to introduce herself. They also interacted with the audience and chitchatted among themselves with various theme questions guiding them. Honestly, when I saw this, the first thing that came to my mind was it was like watching Opera Van Java, or Srimulat. A live comedy show. So you see, it's nice when you get to see a live comedy show in the middle of a concert.

About the show itself, well, I gotta say that the basic elements of music concerts such as dancing, singing, and the music itself were below par in this show. The performers didn't dance in unison and they lacked energy. The songs reminded me of children songs, and the lyrics... Wow, that didn't help. Clearly they're aiming for teenagers to be their audience, judging by the lyrics that are simple, plain, and seemingly have a mission to guide you through your life. However, Lay Down, one of the songs in the setlist, was an exception. When Lay Down was on, the mood changed from innocent to naughty and hot. It's like in an instant the girls got mature too rapidly, and the shifting mood threw me off balance. In short, the musical aspect of this show simply failed to interest me. However, it was evident from the fanaticism and the atmosphere I was feeling that night that the show was appealing to a lot of people, namely, the loyal fans of JKT48.

I must say that among the many segments of the show, the emceeing or the break in-between the songs is the most entertaining segment for me. Hell, I think it is the only interesting aspect of the show. The emceeing is interesting not only because it's rather new for me that they mix concert and "comedy show" but also because it's actually quite amusing, thanks to the girls' innocence. Watching these young girls speak is an entertainment in itself. From their innocence facepalm moments shall be born.

Case in point: when they were asked what kind of guy they would be if they were guys, some of them actually answered with "I want a guy who..." instead of "I want to be a guy who". Facepalm #1.

Facepalm #2, and this time I try to keep it authentic:

"Aku tuh paling takut sama jarum suntik. Apalagi kalo jarumnya gedeee."

Guys that made up the majority of the crowd started to get excited. 

The girl, trying to calm down the crowd, added, "Iya benerrr, kalo ngga percaya cobain aja."

This is hysterical if you get the subtext. And embarrassing. And totally deserving of a facepalm. See? This is why I like emceeing session.

At the end of the show, after the concert was wrapped, and bows had been given too many times it made me feel uncomfortable, there was one last segment before the show was really over. This one was called "handshake" session, in which the fans got to shake hands with the performers of the show. The fans stood in line for their chance to shake hands with each of the girls and maybe even exchange a few words. This is exactly what I meant by "increased interaction between fans and idols". Typically, fans don't interact this close with their idols. And in order to get that rare chance to touch your idol or to get close to them, you gotta make a lot of effort: chase them at the airport, stand in the front row of their show, pay more money for VIP access... But during this handshake session, everyone got the chance to be close to their idols. Speaking of which, I got a tip from my buddy who is a die-hard fan of JKT48, that if we refuse to shake hands with them, it means we think the show is bad.

Tom Kelley of IDEO said in his book, The Art of Innovation, that there is always something that can be improved in whatever we see in our surroundings. This, of course, also applies to JKT48 Theater. In my opinion, the Theater experience that the fans love can be improved by following these few suggestions. First of all, the chairs on which the audience sit are a glaring mistake. I'm serious. It has shitty backrest that is painful for our backs to rest on. And this is a two-hour show we're talking about. Just imagine the pain the fans have to endure. Thus, a change in the furniture department will be very appreciated by the fans, I think. Second of all, as I've stated before, the emceeing segments remind me of comedy shows we see on TV. So, if JKT48 is capable of slipping a comedy into their music concert, why not slipping a rap battle as well? I imagine it'd be cool if in the middle of it all suddenly a rap battle breaks out... Because rap battles are cool by nature! But this is just an idea for when the management is looking to top their show with some new activity. Remember this: rap battle between the members. It will give more flavor to the show and it will be like no other.

JKT48 Theater clearly is a very popular live show and has a large following. Many guys and girls watch this show every night and every weekend. Despite it all, I have never been interested to see it, and I was proven right when I finally saw what this show was all about; it simply is not my cup of tea. I remember when I was watching it, my mind was wandering someplace else, thinking about tennis, my new hobby. I suppose I can actually sit for two hours peacefully, pretending to watch the show while actually I'm thinking about something else and no one will be any the wiser.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Your Tone May Reveal Who You Are

Jadi, gw baru menyadari kalo gw punya skill yang cukup mumpuni dalam suatu hal, yaitu membaca orang. Yoi, kayak detektif. Tapi bedanya, gw ngga terlalu menggunakan observation skill kayak Detektif Conan gitu; gw lebih cenderung menggunakan sensing skill. Apa bedanya si antara dua ini? Kalo menurut pengertian gw, observasi umumnya menggunakan penglihatan, dengan cara mengamati. Sedangkan sensing menggunakan indera-indera kita: penglihatan, pendengaran, penciuman, sentuhan, dan yang agak susah, menggunakan indera pengecap--secara ngga mungkin segala apa dijilat-jilat.

Nah, cerita dimana gw menyadari keampuhan skill gw dimulai pagi tadi. Saat itu gw lagi beli nasi pecel di sebuah rumah makan. Di rumah makan tersebut ada satu mobil parkir di depannya, dan dua grup customer--ngga termasuk diri gw. Customer yang pertama adalah dua orang ibu-ibu lagi bersiap untuk membayar makanannya yang dipesen untuk dibawa pulang, dan customer yang kedua adalah dua orang bapak-bapak yang masih ngobrol di meja makan mereka. Nah, karena gw lagi pesen nasi pecel, gw berdiri di deket grup yang pertama, yaitu grup ibu-ibu yang mo bayar. Di saat ini lah, tanpa gw duga ternyata cukup menarik untuk memperhatikan grup ibu-ibu ini.

Ibu-ibu ini beli nasi pecel banyak, mungkin sekitar 4 bungkus. Kemudian, salah satu dari mereka, sebut saja Ibu Berbaju Hitam--ibu ini yang menarik untuk dianalisis, dia menambah belanjaannya: kerupuk sekitar 4 atau 5 buah. *Hmmm...* Kemudian, dia tambah lagi, Coca-cola sebotol. *Ahh...* Kemudian, and this is the determining moment, dia bertanya kepada temannya, "Ada lagi yang mau dibeli?"

"Okay. That's it. That car outside must be theirs. And, what's more, this lady in black must be the one who drives the car", gw pun mulai menyimpulkan dalam hati, macam detektif atau lebih kerennya lagi, macam Cal Lightman di serial Lie to Me. Walaupun, musti gw akui, dalam hati gw ngga ngomong Inggris kayak gitu, biar keren aja nyeritainnya.

Anyway, kembali ke rumah makan, ternyata Si Ibu ini belanjanya belom selesai. Setelah sekian banyaknya, sate telor puyuh hampir kelupaan, jadi dia tambahlah itu sate ke kantong belanjanya. Setelah selesai, Si Ibu Berbaju Hitam mengeluarkan lembaran Rp50.000 yang cukup mulus. *Hmmm...* Oke, ternyata hal-hal ini mendukung terkaan gw mengenai mobil siapakah di depan dan siapakah yang mengemudikannya.

Ow! Tapi tunggu dulu. Ketika ibu-ibu ini berjalan keluar rumah makan, gw pun melihat pakaiannya dengan lebih seksama. Hee? Ternyata biasa aja. Rasanya lebih mudah untuk membayangkan dia kemana-mana naik motor, dibanding membayangkan dia kemana-mana naik mobil. Saat itu gw pun sempet meragukan kesimpulan yang udah gw buat, "Hmm... I might be wrong about it."

Sementara ibu-ibu ini berjalan semakin jauh, gw pun memandang mereka dari kejauhan, sedikit mengintai, untuk memastikan apakah kesimpulan awal gw benar atau salah. Eh ternyata bener aja, kedua ibu-ibu ini masuk ke mobil yang diparkir di depan, dan... tentunya, Si Ibu Berbaju Hitam masuk ke kursi pengemudi.

Woohoo! Congratulations, me! Aha! Ahey! *Confetti bertebaran.*

Lantas, bagaimana gw bisa menebak kalo mobil tersebut punya grup ibu-ibu ini dan bukannya grup bapak-bapak? Dan, bagaimana gw bisa menebak kalo yang nyetir MESTI Si Ibu Berbaju Hitam? Inilah pembeberannya:

Yang pertama. Si ibu-ibu ini belanjanya banyak, ambil ini ambil itu, kayak duit bukan masalah. Artinya, doi mapan. Gw tau soalnya kalo gw makan di warung kopi gw juga ambil ini ambil itu kayak duit bukan masalah. Gw mapan... untuk standar warung kopi hahahah. Anyway, yang mapan kan biasanya bawa mobil, maka inilah pertanda pertama mengenai siapa yang punya mobil diparkir di depan.

Yang kedua. Ketika Si Ibu Berbaju Hitam bayar pake duit Rp50.000, gw liat kan duitnya mulus tuh. Mesti ini duit dari ATM. Dan seperti yang lo ketahui, kalo lo punya ATM berarti lo cukup mapan. Ini ngga banyak membuktikan mengenai siapa yang punya mobil, berhubung banyak orang punya ATM, tapi setidaknya hal ini mengeliminasi kemungkinan sebaliknya, bahwa ibu ini tidak mapan.

Yang ketiga, dan yang paling menentukan, adalah ketika Ibu Berbaju Hitam menawarkan pada temannya, "Ada lagi yang mau dibeli?" Ini adalah sesuatu yang bisa dinilai dari cara dia berbicara, dari nadanya. Terdengar commanding, tegas, tapi sekaligus peduli. Commanding kayak seorang boss atau pemimpin. Kemungkinan dia biasa memimpin di tempat kerjanya, atau kalau dia seorang pengusaha, dialah bossnya. Dengan posisi yang dimilikinya, apakah dia mapan? Sangat mungkin. Pertanda satu lagi bahwa mobil di depan adalah milik mereka. Selain itu, fakta bahwa dia yang menawarkan temannya untuk membeli apa yang mungkin diinginkannya, dan membayar belanjaan mereka, menunjukkan bahwa dia adalah orang yang dominan dalam hubungan mereka. Dan biasanya, orang yang dominan mesti pengennya nyetir mobil dibanding membiarkan temennya atau partnernya memegang kemudi (beneran, kalo ga percaya, liat di film-film). Dari situlah gw sampe pada kesimpulan bahwa Si Ibu Berbaju Hitam adalah orang yang nyetir mobil yang diparkir di depan.

So that's how I came with a pretty good guess (and accurate, too) about whose car it is and who drives it. Gw akui, ada sedikit keraguan ketika mulai menilai seseorang dari penampilannya. The old saying "don't judge a book by its cover" comes to mind. Mengamati dengan menggunakan satu indera aja ternyata ngga cukup, karena kita bisa ketipu sama apa yang kita lihat. Tapi kalo kita mempekerjakan indera-indera yang lainnya, seperti pendengaran misalnya, kemungkinan bahwa penilaian kita akurat akan meningkat.

At the end, I just wanna say that I feel pretty awesome for having this skill of profiling and reading people. Anybody wanna hire me for this? Real-life Cal Lightman, perhaps? I could use some work, supaya mapan gw meningkat dari standar warung kopi.