This writing is one of the selected essays done by undergraduate students of “Consumer Analysis” from University of Indonesia, the faculty of social and political sciences, communication program of advertising international class 2013.
The humble beginnings of Kediri Bertutur originated from a cultural journey: “I am fully aware that to reach quality of life does not mean gaining a higher level of status and wealth. In my journey, I am seeking quality of life based on spiritual humanism that moves my very being on this earth. This lesson I can only gain from a cultural journey,” Kandi Windoe.
Inspired by the same spirit, Kediri Bertutur takes the undergraduate students on their own cultural journeys. Kediri Bertutur presents Mutiara personal writing after taking her own personal journey to Solo in 2014.
A Journey to Solo by Mutiara
In the light of refining an understanding on the behavior of particular group of consumers, one must procure and gain an actual experience in assorting and interacting with these people. For this purpose, this essay discusses the story of my journey to the city of Solo, Central Java. From the geographical standpoint, Solo is located in approximately 100 km south of Semarang and 60 km east of Yogyakarta. As it is located in relatively far distance from provincial capital, Solo has preserved its cultural property.
In fact, the regal city of Solo, or widely known as Surakarta, is recognized for its courtesy and legacy in Javanese traditions and culture. A short visit to this city serves as a valuable opportunity to study, listen, explore, and discover the sounds of meaningful Javanese ancient culture. The sole ambition to begin a journey to Solo was to comprehend the characteristic and behavior of young generation in Solo. I followed that ambition through field observation and true conservation with young people who are currently living in this city.
This essay discusses the contrast viewpoint of young generation who are living in the village of Solo. The first part of this essay discusses the first story of my journey that captures the tale of youth in Solo who dedicate their lives to appreciate the heritage of Wayang and Karawitan as a part of Javanese culture. On the contrary, the second part of this article examines the shifting in the habits and way of life of young generation in Solo following the introduction of urban culture from Jakarta. The third part of this essay highlights the major contrast distinction between young generation in Solo and Jakarta. In the final analysis, I present three key learning from my journey.
During my short trip to Solo, I had a rare opportunity to engage with a certain local community. This community is consisted with a group of young people with ages range from 17-22 years old, which spend most of their lifetimes to preserve the cultural heritage from their ancestors. In specific, they spend their daily life to learn and respect the art of Wayang Orang Sendratari Ramayana and Karawitan.
Wayang is generally considered as the highlight of Javanese culture. The history of the presence of Wayang in Indonesia brought us back to 930 C.E. when the first record of Wayang performance with a title of ‘si Galigi Mawayang’ or ‘Sir Galigi played Wayang’ was founded. The first Wayang performance told a story about the hero Bhima from the Mahabharata. In the present time, certain indigenous features of traditional Wayang still can be found in every performance of Wayang Orang. The master behind the entire performance of Wayang Orang depends on the Dalang, or a figure who sits behind the screen and narrates the story. Each performance of Wayang Orang is presented with one of the oldest culture music instrument, Gamalan orchestra.
In addition to Wayang Orang, these young people also study the art of Karawitan. In its definition, Karawitan is a musical tradition that was developed in Java, Indonesia. Karawitan is derived from sanskrit word of rawit, meaning soft. It is believed that a performance of Karawitan is able to reflect and describe the values and heritage of Javanese music philosophy. Through immersing themselves with the elegance of traditional music, young people in Solo prefer to listen traditional music in comparison with modern music. They are concern that traditional music has been oblivious by the youth in Jakarta due to the increasing preference of global modern music.
Most of young people in Solo who recognize the heritage of Wayang and dedicate their lives to learn the art of Wayang Orang Sendratari Ramayana are born and raised in Solo. They are currently still attending Institut Seni Indonesia (ISI) Solo as students. Contrary to the ways of life in young Jakartans, these young people spend their everyday lives to attend their classes and study the art of Wayang Orang. Despite of increasing influence of western culture in the country, these young people have a sole purpose to respect, appreciate, and preserve the cultural heritage of Wayang Orang. For this reason, they are concern with the lifestyle of young generation in Jakarta.
Following the emergence of western culture in the country, young people in Jakarta are fond in modern leisure activities.
In this situation, the local art and culture are forgotten. Their message to young generation in Jakarta is to increase their awareness and proud with local culture instead of embracing the western culture.
Given the current high profile dedication with regard to local cultural and art legacy by young people in Solo, it is quite surprising that young people who are currently living in a village of the city has a contrast way of life. In specific, this particular group of young people adopts contemporary lifestyle of Jakarta despite of their modest family. Following the entry of branded goods into the city, many young people in Solo are willing to purchases these goods as part of their efforts to adapt with contemporary lifestyle.
During my journey to Solo, I met a young girl named Devi. She is 21 years old this year. Prior the emergence of contemporary style of living, she was only a modest and common village child. However, through the advancement of technology, she was able to observe the development and evolution of the lifestyle in Jakarta. Notwithstanding with her financial limitation, she made a try to follow the modern lifestyle by purchasing high quality, branded, and expensive products. That being said, Devi has became are presentation of consumptive young people in Solo for her desire to increase her dignity by possessing modern way of living and leaving her modesty lifestyle.
Whilst the discussion in the preceding paragraph briefly outlines two-contrast viewpoint of young peer group in Solo, the core theme of this section is to highlight the major distinctions between young generation in Solo and Jakarta. Foundational to this, there are two core distinctions between young peer group in Solo and Jakarta that will be discussed in the following paragraphs.
First of all, there is a contrast behavior with reference to local cultural legacy amongst young people in Jakarta and Solo. The rising generation in Solo believes that preserving their culture is an essential part of their responsibility. For that belief, they dedicate their youth to study about local arts and cultural legacy by learning the art of Wayang Orang Sendratari Ramayana and Karawitan.
On the contrary, the rising generation in Jakarta has little, if not, no awareness on the duty to preserve and enhance local arts and culture. As a consequence, the legacy of local arts and culture, including Wayang Orang, is forgotten by young peer group in Jakarta.
An equally significant aspect of the differences between young people in Jakarta and Solo can be identified in the influence of western culture on the behavior of these young peer groups. Despite of the increasing and exposure of western culture in Solo for the past few years, these young people have not been able to leave their cultural heritage. In this manner, young people in Solo chose to ignore the emergence of western culture and protect the local culture from being neglected.They feel the importance of promoting the diverse cultures of Indonesia. Evidence for in support of this position can be found in the rejection of modern music and arts by young peer group in Solo.
This is in contrast to the influence of western culture on the behavior of young people in Jakarta. From the beginning, the indigenous people of Jakarta are the Betawi, possessing diverse and delightful arts and culture, including the tanjidor, ondel-ondel, festival setu babakan, the lenggang nyai dance, and other Betawi dance and theater art. In the past, people from diverse ethnic background and cultures would visit Jakarta to experience the beauty of its arts and music performance.
Nevertheless, the young admire popular foreign culture, including its music, movies, fashion products, and lifestyles. The global music industry has attracted Jakarta youth. Furthermore, there is a tendency for the young to prefer foreign recognized brands and products. More importantly, they deify and follow foreign celebrities’ lifestyle, which seems to indicate they have lost their love for local cultures and arts.
A couple of factors may have contributed to the shift in the way young in Jakarta preserve local arts and culture. In the first place, technological advancement enables young to freely explore foreign songs and movies. The Internet also enables Jakarta youth to study foreign celebrities’ lifestyle and purchase foreign brands and products. Secondly, social media has played a significant role in facilitating the rise of this contemporary lifestyle.
Following the end of my journey to Solo, I would like to note several positive and important messages for the young in Jakarta. For the youth of Jakarta today, national identity is needed to maintain their roots in the globalized world. However, it is important to note that access and exposure to foreign cultures and social media is inevitable for younger people in Jakarta. For this reason, young people in Jakarta today must be able to preserve the local arts and culture by creating and engaging with local community that promote local culture to both Jakarta and international citizens. For instance, youth in Jakarta may hold traditional dance, music, and theater performance to protect the sustainability of local arts and culture.
As has been noted, the purpose of my journey to the city of Solo, East Java, is to gain greater understanding on the characteristic and behavior of young generation in Solo through field observation. In this final analysis, I note three wisdom and learning that I procured following the close of my journey. First of all, the journey has uncovered potential negative impact of the influence of foreign culture to the behavior of young generation. In the first place, high influence of foreign culture encourages young people to prefer and purchase highly recognized brands that are relatively more expensive in comparison with local brands, despite of their circumstances. This can be observed from increasing globally recognized brands that penetrate into the Indonesian market. While this is the case, Indonesian youth generation is increasingly become more consumptive with foreign brands. As a consequence, local brands are often forgotten and forced to declare its bankruptcy.
Equally important, the second key learning from this journey inspired me to embrace and protect the beauty of Indonesian arts and culture. Contemporary lifestyle that has taken its roots in many of Jakarta youth make us forget that Indonesia used to be recognized for its diverse and rich culture. The story about young peer groups in Solo has reminded all of us to join their paths in embracing and reintroducing Indonesian arts and culture.
Finally, this journey teaches an important lesson for youth generation in Jakarta to engage with foreign products and brands without losing their roots as the residents of Indonesia. It has been shown that access to Internet and social media are inevitable for young people in Indonesia, in particular for those who are living in Jakarta. For the purpose of education and employment, most of these young people are required to understand the global technological advancement. However, this does not merely indicate the need to overlook the legacy of national culture. On the contrary, youth generation shall use their knowledge to embrace and spread the message about the importance to preserve national arts and culture. Technology provides meaningful opportunity for youth generation to communicate the national cultural property across Indonesia.
The key aspect discussed in this essay has produced a sole message for youth generation in Jakarta to recognize the need to protect and preserve national arts and culture and to promote this nationalism across the geographical border, despite of their accesses to Internet and social media. In conclusion, as youth generation holds the future of a nation, they have a duty and commitment to protect and preserve Indonesian’s arts and culture.