For the past week Indonesians have set aside sexual taboos and have clustered around computers and electronic devices viewing the tantalizing offerings of its two biggest celebrities – pop star Ariel (Nazril Irham) and actress model Luna Maya, (who until last week was the face of beauty soap LUX ) to the dismay and chagrin of officials who are now looking to punish those involved in releasing the tape, to the stars themselves for starring in their own sex tape and to punish anyone found watching the tape- which has since been taken out of the public sphere.
The story topped newscasts for a week and dominated chatter on social-networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. But just as controversial was the reaction of officials in the newly democratic nation.
Several high schools were raided for mobile phones so the offending clips could be removed. And some ministers said the incident pointed, once again, to moral decay and the need for stricter controls of the Internet.
Could you imagine schools or offices being raided for sex tapes of Kendra Wilkinsonor Danielle Staub in the United States, where such tapes have almost become necessary for those aspiring and maintaining the limelight in Tinseltown?
Indonesia, a secular nation with more Muslims than any other in the world, emerged from 32 years of dictatorship in 1998. It won praise for tackling the tough tasks of fighting corruption and terrorism and implementing widely lauded social and economic reforms.
But it still faces challenges on the road to democratization, from the explosion of grass-roots campaigning on the Web to old-style politicians, who speak to small constituencies or narrow-based parties rather than the central government, said sociologist Wimar Witoelar.
For some, the initial instinct still is to clamp down.
Although we don’t agree with the Indonesians tough clamping down policies, we do admire its efforts to force a kind of decorum in society, even if the human psyche is always titillated by the indecent.
As the tapes were downloaded onto Facebook and YouTube (they have since been removed by the sites’ administrator) and distributed from mobile phone to mobile phone, the country tottered on the verge of sexual hysteria.
The country of 240 million has seen an explosion of social networking as more people have access to the Internet, prompting the government earlier this year to propose a bill to regulate content.
Public pressure forced it, eventually, to be shelved.
But, in the wake of the sex-tape saga, Minister of Information and Technology Tifatul Sembiring renewed calls for content control, and teams immediately set out to deploy firewalls for more than 2,000 Internet cafes around the country.
The moral of the story- sex always sells, even Kendra Wilkinson and Danielle Staub can tell you that, but of course there is something to be said for decorum and civility, something that there is little room for in American these days…and now Indonesia.