Interview with Roy Thaniago, Founder and Researcher of Remotivi

Roy Thaniago

The Publicist Team of Festival Film Dokumenter 16 had a chance interviewed Roy Thaniago, founder and researcher of Remotivi. He is one of the speaker on Discussion program Documentary in Post-Truth Era. He talked much about right-winged populism issues, post-truth phenomenon, up to media literation in our interview this time. You can read our interview with Roy Thaniago in the article below. Enjoy!

Seeing post-truth phenomenon in Indonesia, we captured the connection with the fact that we still not overn with imaginary fear from New Order era. The only differentation is it changed, from communism to racism issues. How do you think about what is really happened?

R: Post-Truth is a symptoms when people is more depended in their emotion, belief, instead of data. As example, In the context of ’65 tragedy, after Soeharto stepped down, there were so much new datas that surfaced. From massacre of people that accused as PKI (Indonesian Communism Party), up tp the involvement of United States in this tragedy. But, those new datas became meaningless for themn who already believed that the one who was in fault is PKI, in an attempt to ovwethrow legitimate government. Those new datas is actually bothering the truth they’ve already believed.

The myth will last as temporary truth, as long as there’s no scientific works to fill the emptiness of the truth. This is what happeded in New Order era, myth about the ’65 tragedy in Soeharto’s version developed, worked and operated on how we understand Indonesia. but, after Soeharto stepped down, new narration emerged and grinding the domination of the myth. As example in discourse study, a narration that suddenly denied by new narration is a sign of social-political change. I think we are all walking towards there. The process is sure not easy, we are not a country with long cultural-democratic history. Feodalism is still  in our blood. Meanwhile, European civilization is already close with intelligence since renaissance. This makes the new datas are not ringing, as long as authority does not giving any confirmation. So, eventhough there is layers to change the dominant narration, i think we are already in the right path.

Is media literation can be seen only as anti-hoax campaign by Jokowi ragime like right now? Because it seems like Kominfo as the authority so far didn’t succeed and instead they are reducting the problems to religion facism vs right wing nationalism, which deepen the separation.

R: This is very smart judgement because nationalism and religion is two most dominant thing that controlled us in Indonesia. sometimes, nationalism placed  above religion. “NKRI Harga Mati” Jargon as axample, is a real form of there is nothing like discussion space in the reading of nationalism. We can talk about anything but when it’s about Pancasila, that is final.

When it gets connected to anti-hoax campaign, so what happened it selection process based on political agenda. With the raising of right-wing populism through the action of 212 as example, the only way for Jokowi regime to still standing tall is with the NKRI shield. I saw this is childish response on how government once again using nationalosm as the same jargon that used to kill Papua’s people, and occupationed Timor Leste. How the interpreting of nationalism can not be separated from military as main political power in New Order regime.

The regime then operating what we called hoax and not. There is certain knowledge system that in the end will make us be able to do sorting hoax only from right-islamic web page. Though, of we see another right-wing’s web sites, because both of it is on right side, all of its seword, katakita fan page on Facebook is also serving same hoax. But it never labeled as hoax, as it happened to arrahmah.com or voaislam.com. So, there is selection process on what called hoax, what called credible news, that all of is is drived by same certain knowledge system which if it pulled further, the system came from the ultra-nationalism ideology a la “NKRI Harga Mati.”

In the article “Menguji Logika Pandji” (Testing Pandji’s Logic), you mentioned that taste is never born naturally. It is political, economy, and class fighting ride. How do you see FFD’s role as alternative discourse space through documentary film in those condition?

R: i always like spaces that is in the outside of central of cultural power, in this case is media industry, newspaper, and country, that offered new narration. Spaces like FFD give people chance to expressed their idea without the need to get in to the industry’s mechanism. The mechanism that the selection is based on market interests, meanwhile FFD offered to see the audience as public. Because this is having different consequences. With market logic, there is selection process on what is allowed to be delivered and what not. So, there is no need spaces like FFD to cut the mechanism by presenting new narration. But, what to note by spaces like FFD is how big is the influence given by cultural industry, as cited from Frankfrut madhhab. It already became our culture, became knowledge system that attached to language, visual, and way of thinking. So, eventhough there is new mechanism formed, the language we are using is still their language.

Thinking of United States with its long history of freedom of speech, yet in reality, they are still facing same problem related with post-truth politics. What can public expect from the future of spaces like FFD in Indonesia as one of truth competition rides?

R: Me myself doesn’t mean to representing the public because i am a part of public, i hope, places like ffd is still and mus be exist. For me, FFD’s important point is giving voices, a possibility that lately doesn’t have space in the mainstream industry. But, not only offering differentation, FFD also should have political attitude, there’s nothing like neutral. Partiality on oppressed groups, Kulonprogo’s farmer, ’65 tragedy victim, women victim of sexual harrasment, or maybe we need to give HTI’s voices related to Perppu Ormas (government regulation related to public organization). I think, this political attitude should be maintained by FFD.

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