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Muslim Emo Indonesian Youth – A New School of Dual Cool

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Indonesia has always been on the map: but helped now by their fervour for Social Media, Indonesia’s youth appear to be picking up more headlines globally - as a cultural phenomenon. Here is the birth …

Indonesia has always been on the map: but helped now by their fervour for Social Media, Indonesia’s youth appear to be picking up more headlines globally - as a cultural phenomenon. Here is the birth of a New-School Dual Cool – an Eastern more feminine Western syncretism; and individualism attained through collectives. Beyond this, the key question is whether this tribe of ‘emos’ can take a lead in crossing-over transnationally?

Wilson, J.A.J. (2013), “Emo-Indonesian Youth – A New School of Dual Cool”, The Marketeers, April, Indonesia: MarkPlus Inc., pp.82-87.

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  • 1. 082 // APR 2013 // the-marketeers.com aestroaestro a New School Culture of Dual-Cool Jonathan(Bilal)A.J.Wilson
 SeniorLecturer&CourseLeader, UniversityofGreenwich,LondonUK Editor:JournalofIslamicMarketing, EmeraldGroupPublishing. Indonesiahasalwaysbeenonthemap–buthelpednowbytheirfervourforSocialMedia,Indonesia’s youthappeartobepickingupmoreheadlinesglobally.Thisarticlepresentsaselectionofobservations, whichhavedrawntheauthortoviewIndonesianyouthasaculturalphenomenon.Hereisthebirthof aNew-SchoolDualCool–anEasternmorefeminineWesternsyncretism;andindividualismattained throughcollectives.Beyondthis,thekeyquestioniswhetherthistribeof‘emos’cantakealeadin crossing-overtransnationally? I attended the 2012World Halal Forum in Kuala Lumpur as a speaker, also writing an article for the Halal Journal on my speech, titled:“MuslimYouth Culture – A new wave of Hip hop Grunge”1 . In 2012 I also worked on a journal paper with seven other professors, to be published in April 2013, titled:“Crescent Marketing, Muslim Geographies and brand Islam”2 . That paper has a special section with the heading ‘Indonesia – the hidden treasure’. The following article draws from and builds on observations contained within this collective body of work. Indonesia onthe map Recent media attention and marketing literature on Indonesia, arguing for its significance and relevance, can be grouped largely into three rationales and by extension, standpoints: 1. The economic argument – where data is presented and calculated to demonstrate the market potential through financial value; and future sustainability through population figures 2. The consumer-based perspective – which articulates that beyond the market value and size, there exists a consumer-based social obligation to develop the sector, which views profits as one criteria, but not necessarily the key criterion. 3. The geopolitical imperative – where Indonesian commerce and consumption, especially linked with Islam, is influenced by geopolitics, which reciprocally affects factors such as international relations, political stability and national brand equity. Now there seems little need to impress, on a largely Indonesian audience reading this article, that Indonesia is big, and should be big news for everyone else. But considering that Indonesia is made up of over 17,500 islands and approximately 240 million inhabitants, of whom 88% are Muslim (approximately 210 million), there remains paucity in literature, research and insight on this region. By 2020, Coughlan (2012) reports findings from an Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) study, projecting Indonesia as moving from 6th to 5th place in terms of number of university graduates, with the U.S. slipping from 2nd to 3rd place.Vaswani (2012a,b,d) and Mishkin (2012) also highlight how important social media is in the region, from urbanites to farmers. “This is one of the mostTwitter and Facebook-friendly nations on Earth.A higher proportion of Indonesian internet users sign on toTwitter than in any other country. Indonesia is also home to the world’s third-largest number of Facebook users. Indonesian Facebook andTwitter users have managed to push for social justice online and Emo- Indonesian Youth 1 Wilson, J.A.J., (2012),“MuslimYouth Culture – A new wave of Hip hop Grunge”, The Halal Journal, 2012 World Halal Forum special edition, Malaysia. 2 Wilson, J.A.J., Belk, R.W., Bamossy, G.J., Sandikci, O., Kartajaya, H., Sobh, R., Liu, J. & Scott, L. (2013 in press),“Crescent Marketing, Muslim Geographies and Brand Islam : Reflections from the JIMA Senior Advisory Board”, Journal of Islamic Marketing, Vol.4 Iss.1.
  • 2. the-marketeers.com // APR 2013 // 083 embarrassed misbehaving government officials, as well as helping businesses market their products.That is why [the] popular computer game Angry Birds held the global launch of its tie-up with Facebook in Jakarta this week.” (Vaswani, 2012a). Particularly in Indonesia, global marketers should also keep their eyes on Western and Korean trends, which are influencing Indonesian youths’ thoughts, feelings and consumption.Anecdotally, perhaps the large numbers of Indonesian youth have contributed to the recent phenomenal global successes of Korean music artists and film (Putra, 2006; Penh, 2012; Rogers, 2012). Furthermore, in a recent BBC News Business (2012) interview with award winning music producer David Foster [who has compose­d songs for Celine Dion and Madonna amongst others], Foster states that Asian popular music has been per­ceived as being very good at copying Western music, however now Asian music spearheaded by South Korean bands such as K-pop and Psy [of ‘Gangnam Style’ fame – the second most watched and most ‘liked’ video of all time onYouTube] a phenomenon is occuring where Asia looks set to take centre stage, in terms of innovation and audience figures. More recently, theYouTube sensation ‘The Harlem Shake’ is showing a progression towards syncretism; and individualism attained through collectives. Currently, 4,000 clips of various Harlem Shakes are being uploaded every day, by everyone from the BBC, Manchester City, Northumbria University, and University of Georgia men’s swimming and diving team. For me, this signals how the field of marketing, lead by social Branding and Public Relations is expanding (anyone and everyone views themselves as a potential gatekeeper or PR activist) and the need for professionals to reassess how they maintain their relevance and control is crucial. Stories now are judged more and more by how many hits, comments and likes they have; and whether they appear towards the top of Online searches. Vaswani (2012e) also reports on how there is a growing movement of comics in Indonesia, which are being used a vehicle to tackle religious issues in a more contemporary way, following manga traditions - with characters facing the challenges of everyday life, fused with Javanese mythology.Artists have perhaps been given encouragement by the mainstream success of The 99 – which is produced in the Middle East and US.The creative team for The 99 have worked for Marvel and DC comics, and its concept is based upon the idea of 99 people who each have a particular skill and attribute. In Islam,Allah (God) is known by 99 names, which describe his attributes and these are the ones which have been used here. When looking at films, Sulthani (2012) reports on the Indonesian martial arts film “The Raid: Redemption” smashing domestic box office records, and becoming “the first Indonesian flick to break into the U.S. box office, also winning acclaim at international film festivals”. Hopes are that the film’s success “will breathe new life into Pencak Silat, the Indonesian martial art it showcases – and one whose followers are dwindling at home.” Interestingly, some schools practising Silat in Indonesia and Malaysia draw from and integrate religion (Islam here), in a comparable way to Buddhism,Taoism, Shinto and Sikhism - forming an underpinning for Chinese, Japanese, and Indian martial arts, as is more widely reported. The socio-political implications of these phenomena should also not be underestimated. Indonesia has previously been reported as producing cult ‘terrorism merchandise’, sporting figures such as Osama Bin Laden (Inside Indonesia, 2007; My Telegraph, 2010). Perhaps due to further insight into the region, courtesy of US President Obama’s upbringing, the US Obama administration has understood that Indonesia is not so much anti-American, as a region that has felt underserved, misunderstood, and unheard.Taking a new approach,Vaswami (2012c) reports of a government-funded diplomatic mission, where Native Deen, an Islamic hip-hop group visited the region to help spread tolerance and faith through music; and further U.S. understanding.Washington stated that is was keen “to start focussing on ‘soft’ power, so that it can increase its influence in Muslim-dominated countries.” The tour also included visits to Egypt, Tanzania and Jordan. The rise of MuslimYouth consciousness Because of this, arguably the most exciting and significant segment in today’s global market lies in the hands of Muslim Youth.Advertising and Branding agency Ogilvy Noor has estimated that over half of Muslims are under 24 years old and that makes for over 10%
  • 3. 084 // APR 2013 // the-marketeers.com aestroaestro of the World’s population (Ogilvy Noor, 2011). Furthermore, more recent academic opinions on globalization are taking alternative positions than previously argued. de Mooij (2011) gives consideration to the effects of globalization and global consumer culture – and in particular those that produce negative effects. de Mooij (2011) observes that, “In practice,notwithstanding the worldwide reach of television and the internet,in many people’s lives,in consumption or entertainment habits,be it music or sports,the people of different nations continue to have different habits, tastes,and loyalties.Instead of causing homogenization,globalization is the reason for the revival of local cultural identities in different parts of the world.” (p.5). When looking specifically at Indonesian (and especially Muslim)Youth, I argue that rather than these individuals becoming ‘Westernized’, as has been suggested by traditional quarters, and equally by Eastern andWestern sources; Indonesian Youth are in fact entering an age of new becoming.This is the New School of Dual Cool. For if this is a simple case of Westernization, does this mean that the ‘West is best’, and are Youth moving away from being ‘Asian’,‘ASEAN’,‘Indonesian’ or religious? Or is it that they see their identities as being governed by their own rules, which are open to inspiration and truth wherever it exists? Evidence for the last perspective lies in the increase in visible practice of Islam by Muslim youth – most notably in their dress and the conversations on the Internet, which are there for all to see. MuslimYouth are consuming commodities that were thought of not to necessarily have any Islamic reference or relevance and they are Islamifying them. In addition, I would argue that East/West, or Muslim/The West thinking harms the development of understanding – as it implies separation.And more importantly by inference supports the idea that the strongest brands, media platforms and educational systems lie outside of the hands and
  • 4. the-marketeers.com // APR 2013 // 085 inception of ASEAN nations, which then profiles Indonesian youth as being intellectually impoverished and followers. Therefore, if this is the case, Indonesians may now and in the future be profiled as romantics who were once great, but now live in the shadow of the enlightened West. Furthermore, if profit maximisation is taken to be more socio-cultural and intangible, rather than just financial, then this encapsulates the essence of cultured human existence. For people are both rational and emotional.And for the religious, this also means being spiritual, which takes existence from the transient ‘here and now’, to the transcendent ‘hereafter’. Further evidence for more faith-based calculations can be derived from the Islamic concept of rizq. Wilson and Liu (2011) charted the development of the term ‘risk’: “which has its linguistic roots derived from the Arabic word Rizq and the Classical Greek… Rizq is a wider and more inclusive term, which more correctly translated means “sustenance”, with that sustenance ultimately being attributable to God. Its passage into English and Italian has restricted the term – largely to focussing on loss of current or future wealth” (p.39). Therefore, Muslims will always balance evaluations and calculations according to this life and the hereafter – either of which could be short, medium or long term, but work in parallel. Taking all of these factors into account, Indonesia as a nation has the cultural potential, alongside its vast population figures of increasingly more educated and internet hungry youth, to play a more significant role in influencing understanding towards marketing theory, practice, and consumption. However, having made these observations I question whether nation branding might be better framed as Cultural Nation Branding. Whilst the field of Nation Branding exists, with a key paper coming from Fan (2006), there are Islamic nations like those of the Middle East, where cultures are perhaps more important than nations. It is not that the nation is unimportant, but given the diversity of cultures in which the dominant Muslim population is, even where at times they are representative of a minority of Arab residents, religion appears to be not as important as Arab ethnicity. Here, nation often takes a back seat to these other considerations.A further case in practice exists in Malaysia, with the implementation of affirmative action educational policies of benefit to Bumiputras (indigenous ethnic Malays) – who by extension are also classified as being habitually Muslim.The breakup of former nations likeYugoslavia and Czechoslovakia also shows how artificial the construct of nation can often be. On the other hand, Pan-Islamic branding can draw together rather diverse cultures. Therefore, I am of the view that such considerations might offer refinements or alternatives to conventional nation branding arguments. New-School Commoditized Dual Cool: Belk,Tian and Paavola (2010), chart how ‘cool’ has migrated from its roots in being “grace under pressure” (Thompson, 1983, p.16, cited in Belk,Tian and Paavola, 2010), especially associated with a coping strategy in response to the historical African slave trade, into becoming “a low profile means of survival and later a youthful rebellious alternative to class-based status systems…” to finally being “commoditized” - following the style most strongly articulated by African American males (pp.183, 187). Interest and developments in China’s youth population of 500 million, under the age of 30, have been studied by Bergstrom (2012). Indonesia signals the birth of a New School Dual Cool – an Eastern more feminine Western syncretism; and individualism attained through collectives. In Indonesia, the Muslim experience looks less like individuals dressed in black or white and instead is brought to the streets in Technicolor. Bright coloured clothing, colourful hairstyles, creativity, and androgynous tastes and appearances, in comparison to other Muslim majority countries, signal that there is something unique here in the region. However, gaining insight into consumer perceptions in the youth market is tough: because how many brands can predict whether they’ll be the next cult, or cool thing – especially when tastes change so quickly? If we add into the mix the fact that especially for Muslim youth, they are balancing adherence to their faith (which is taken from information largely based upon classical texts), with living in the here and now (meaning that some texts have to be brought up to speed with the world today) – then there are plenty of debates to be had. Amongst the younger generation, patterns are being broken up by additional displays of conspicuous consumption – the all-important accessorising and customising. However, another level of understanding worth considering is, are more Muslim and/or Indonesian youth accessorizing and customizing Muslim dress and entertainment; or in fact the opposite – that they are Islamicizing and Indonesianizing ‘other’ sources? For example, some more orthodox Islamic quarters see women wearing jeans as: a departure from Islamic convention; attempting to be Western (the inference being that Western is bad); and imitating
  • 5. 086 // APR 2013 // the-marketeers.com aestroaestro men (“because men wear the pants in the house”). However, an alternative view would be that jeans are: technically comparable with for example female Pakistani shalwar trousers, or in fact are a step up – as they have more practical uses. Furthermore, whether to wear jeans or not is not the key issue – it’s how, when and where. Therefore, does that mean that: • Muslim dress = national dress, from Muslim countries • non-Islamic dress = items from East/ West not associated with Islam, e.g. baseball cap, Japanese tabi (split toe socks) Islamic dress is really about covering certain body parts; in addition to some parts, which should be covered to hide their shape.The informed tribes of Muslim Youth social networkers understand this concept, perhaps at times better than their elders – and this basic principle allows youth to experiment. There also appear to be two staring points: 1. Muslim dress, with non-Islamic ‘peripherals’ (accessory items) e.g. male: wearing thoub/kandora (long white robe), with a Manchester United baseball cap and Crocs shoes 2. Non-Islamic dress, with Islamic peripherals e.g. female: wearing rah-rah mini skirt over jeans, with a headscarf and dog tag chain saying ‘Muslim and proud’. But from these two ends of the spectrum: fashion, customisation, per­ sonalisation and collective individualism appear to be on the increase.They are encouraging youth to congregate around brand-centric tribes and to associate brands with their faith. From my observations the Hijabers community in Indonesia is perhaps the most exciting in the Muslim world and even has the potential to cross-over to Muslim minority markets. So for marketers, the present suggests that future young Indonesian consumers will become more vocal, experimental, are brand hungry, and marketing savvy. We are seeing how stakeholder networks and Web2.0 are driving increasingly dynamic communications, which are both influencing and engaging more parties.The result is the creation of ‘collective individuals’, who converge around culturally embedded and ‘human’ brands; and supports the idea of Global identities, which enhance local cross- border sub-cultures. In the face of this, Transformational Leadership will be a powerful tool for shaping the thoughts, feelings and actions of empowered clusters of engaged stakeholders. Furthermore, consumers don’t just consume they look to do two things. Firstly, they share as a form of social capital and gains from the idea of reciprocity. Evidence can be see on YouTube where consumers are reviewing their purchases, sharing fashion tips and entertainment. Secondly, where possible, consumers seek to monetize what they own. Consumers think about whether this sharing can lead to a revenue stream, future career, sponsorship opportunity, or if items can be sold in online auctions. This however doesn’t mean thatYouth are spending more money on everything. Some spending on designer labels has increased; but equally spending on movies and music has declined in favour of illegal downloads. Therefore,Youth look to get the best value for money, from a holistic standpoint. The key elementsto mappingYouth Culture So what of the future? Be prepared to witness the reigns being taken by a generation of informed, self-mediating, empowered and technologically savvy urbanites. For them, heritage is progressive: they embrace the eradication of hierarchy and knowledge that simply translates to power. Instead: diverse networks; the sharing and adaptation of information; and ultimately the positioning of Islam as a ‘co-brand’ with other spheres of life offer more of a pull. So perhaps it could be argued that we are coming full-circle to the early golden days – where faiths like Islam, Christianity and Buddhism gifted social mobility and empowerment through structured innovation. Moving forward, youth seem set to gravitate towards greater collaborative consumption and new ways of interpreting what faith means – and how it shapes life in the here and now.This could mean that the role of religious leaders CULTURE CREATE CONNECT CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION CONSUMER COMMERCE COOL COMMUNICATE CREATIVITY The10CsofYouthCulture
  • 6. the-marketeers.com // APR 2013 // 087 or scholars changes. Rather than being autocratic sources of knowledge and verdicts, they will be brought into an arena of democratic collaboration and consultation with the wider community. Youth check and check again, from wide ranging sources and they aren’t afraid to voice their opinions. Perhaps a notable example of this can be taken from the Arab Spring – where communities mobilized themselves using social media, in a form of leaderless opposition. If this can be understood then that’s great – because messages and ways of understanding can be reached transparently, quickly and virally. If misunderstood, then equally as transparently, quickly and virally things can move against organisations and brands. I’ve put together the following model to see how we can map youth culture, using The Cs. The 10Cs ofYouth Culture Beyond the 10Cs, I would like to summarise my recommendation into the acronym C10 REAM3 • The 10 Cs • Reciprocity • Emotion • Authenticity • Messaging… Myths… Meaning… Indonesian youth can draw from a rich heritage of storytelling, to help inspire and position them globally. For me Indonesia should bring an ‘emo’ culture of: • Indoseizeia – taking hold of the moment, and offering transformational leadership • Indoteaseia – having a playful sense of humour, which is especially vital when engaging in Social Media • Indopleaseia – having a ‘yes please’ attitude, and fulfilling the desires of others • Indoeaseia – making life easier, making it easier to connect, bringing greater understanding, and feeling comfortable with one’s own identity Finally, I think that Indonesia has to consider two additional factors. Firstly, the importance of Cultural Nation Branding and creating a strong, emotive, compelling, attractive and transnational Indonesian identity – that individuals, societies, and organisations can plug-in and connect with.This will nourish an economic and social capital, which can be enjoyed by all nationals, whilst attracting further economic migrants. The UK in some ways is a test case in practice – perhaps our best recent example can be seen played out in the 2012 London Olympics.The world was exposed to an exciting new and culturally diverse UK. For example, working in a London university, I lecture to about 100 nationalities in any year and we celebrate our multicultural and pluralist campuses – more so than elsewhere. Headscarves, full face veils, turbans, skull caps, mohawks, dreadlocks, tattoos and body piercings punctuate the aristocratic,World Heritage ‘Old Royal Naval College’ site and campus to the University of Greenwich. Secondly, I think that Indonesia should consider its positioning and interface with the Muslim world. Islamic banking and finance, and the Halal sector (encompassing meat, food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and fashion) are growing rapidly – inside and outside of the Muslim world.This field needs more than competence in manufacture, logistics, certification and legislative compliance. Nation Branding and Religion are heavily steeped in historical, cultural and political factors, which are deep rooted and in some areas are not easy to overcome.Without a softer Brand and Public Relations led approach, the more significant factors associated with perceptions and attitudes cannot be satisfied, challenged, or changed. Acknowledgements I would like to acknowledge the contributions of the following, also reflected in parts within this article: • Gary, J. Bamossy, Georgetown University, USA • Russell W. Belk, York University, Canada • John Grant, author of Co-opportunity (2010), the award winning Green Marketing Manifesto (2007) • Hermawan Kartajaya, Markplus Inc, Indonesia • Jonathan Liu, Regent’s College London, UK • Özlem Sandikci, Bilkent University, Turkey • Linda Scott, Oxford Saïd Business School, UK • Rana Sobh, Qatar University, Qatar References • BBC News Business (2012),“Asia ‘emerging as music leader’”, BBC News Business (Online). • Belk, R.W.,Tian, K. and Paavola, H. (2010),“Consuming Cool: Behind the Unemotional Mask”, Research in Consumer Behavior, Vol.12, pp.183-208. • Bergstrom, M. (2012), All Eyes East – Lessons from the Front Lines of Marketing to China’s Youth, NewYork: Palgrave MacMillan. • Coughlan, S. (2012),“End of empire forWestern universities?”, BBC News Business (Online). • de Mooij, M. (2011), Consumer Behavior and Culture: Consequences for Global Marketing and Advertising, (2nd Ed.),Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. • Fan,Y. (2006),“Nation branding: what is being branded?” Journal ofVacation Marketing, 12:1, pp.5-14. • Inside Indonesia (2007),“Osama bin Cool”, By Katie Brayne, Inside Indonesia, Weekly Articles 69: Jan-Mar 2002. • Mishskin, S. (2012),“A nation smitten with social media”, FinancialTimes, Management (Online). • MyTelegraph (2010),“MerchandisingTerrorism”, By markulyseas, Telegraph Bloggs (Online). • Ogilvy Noor (2011),“Branding Halal –The Rise of theYoung Muslim Consumer”, Shelina Janmohamed and Nazia Du Bois, Sparksheet, (Online). • Penh, P. (2012),“South Korea’s influence on Asia:This year’s model – A country on a roll, or rather a wave”, The Economist. • Putra, B. (2006),“KoreanWave washes over Indonesia’s blogosphere”, CNET Blog (Online). • Rogers, S. (2012),“Gangam Style: how Seoul’s most exclusive neighbourhood went global”, The Guardian, Culture, Music (Online). • Sulthani, L. (2012),“Indonesian film may help revive local martial art”, Reuters (Online UK edition). • Thompson, R.F. (1983), Flash of the Spirit, NewYork: Random House. • Vaswani, K. (2012a),“Indonesia’s love affair with social media”, BBC News Asia (Online). • Vaswani, K. (2012b),“Indonesian farmers reaping social media rewards”, BBC News Business (Online). • Vaswani, K. (2012c),“US Islamic hip-hop act on ‘diplomatic mission’ in Indonesia”, BBC News Asia-Pacific (Online). • Vaswani, K. (2012d),“Indie musicians test waters in Indonesia”, BBC News Asia (Online). • Vaswani, K. (2012e),“Indonesian cartoonists keep up with competition”, BBC News Asia (Online). • Wilson, J.A.J., Belk, R.W., Bamossy, G.J., Sandikci, O., Kartajaya, H., Sobh, R., Liu, J. & Scott, L. (2013 in press),“Crescent Marketing, Muslim Geographies and Brand Islam : Reflections from the JIMA Senior Advisory Board”, Journal of Islamic Marketing, Vol.4 Iss.1. • Wilson, J.A.J. & Grant, J. (2013 in press),“Islamic Marketing – a challenger to the classical marketing canon?”, Journal of Islamic Marketing, Vol.4 Iss.1. • Wilson, J.A.J., (2012),“MuslimYouth Culture – A new wave of Hip hop Grunge”, The Halal Journal, 2012World Halal Forum special edition, Malaysia. • Wilson, J.A.J. (2011),“New-School Brand Creation and Creativity – lessons from Hip- Hop and the Global Branded Generation”, Journal of Brand Management, Vol.19 Issue 2, Oct/Nov, pp.91-111. • Wilson, J.A.J. and Liu, J. (2011),“The Challenges of Islamic Branding: navigating Emotions and Halal”, Journal of Islamic Marketing, Vol.2 Iss.1, pp.28-42.