The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

A Weapon Of Mass Attraction …
March 13, 2008, 7:37 am
Filed under: Comment


So I am off to Indonesia today to run a couple of workshops and it’s really interesting the emotions it stirs up in me.

No, I’m not talking about sitting in a room with a bunch of clients and getting them to do ‘stuff’ – I’m talking about going to a place that Western media has brainwashed people into believing is the home for religious extremists and terrorism.

You see it’s not like that at all …

Sure it takes hours to drive a couple of miles plus every building has Police/Guards with machine guns … however the people are incredibly warm, friendly and have an amazing passion and interest for life, which is why is shocks and saddens me that despite knowing and experiencing all of this, I still feel a sense of trepidation everytime I go.

OK, so I still actually go – it’s not like it stops me heading over there – however I still feel a sense of disgust with myself that these thoughts even enter my mind.

Hell, I come from Nottingham, – the most dangerous city per capita in Europe – and I never worry about going there so what is it about Jakarta that congers up all these feelings of nervousness?

I’ll tell you what. MEDIA.

Fox News channel store in the airport

No, not the advertising magazine [though that’s quite dangerous in itself 🙂 ] I’m talking about mainstream media – especially those ‘news’ organisations who claim to be serious about journalism and yet seem to be the mouthpiece for certain Governments in the spread of their propaganda.

A while back I wrote about how we [and I mean ‘we’, not just media] like to ‘label’ and ‘generalise’ despite it being one of the most dangerous things you can do.

Of course I understand WHY we do it [hell I know I do all the time], but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do – especially as more often than not, we tend to fall on the side of negative generalisation, rather than positive affirmation – and I can’t help but feel Jakarta/Indonesia is a victim of this ‘negative collective’ which ultimately is robbing them [and the World at large] of incredible opportunity, potential and friendship.

The fact is every city/country has its good parts and its bad parts and yet hardly any of them are exposed to the sort of media scrutiny that places like Indonesia get.

Has Indonesia got its problems?


Are there organisations at work there committed to doing harm in the supposed name of religion?


However how is that different to the USA with their plethora of internal issues and extremist groups? 

Lets remember it was Americans who bombed Oklahoma and Americans who helped fund many of the actions undertaken by the IRA and yet the World didn’t expose them to the sort of prejudice, propaganda and sanctions that it’s placed upon Indonesia.

I hate how this ‘War On Terror’ has been positioned as a religious war – it’s not – it’s just a great way for certain organisations to stir up people’s emotions for the benefit of themselves.

Peace Love Happiness Friends  63/365

Indonesia is a great place and I would genuinely encourage everyone to experience it – all it needs is some positive PR and maybe that should be an A[P]SOTW assignment because if we can help break down the doors of inherent prejudice, then maybe good things can start to flow again.

You just have to go back a few years to remember how Bali was almost destroyed because of negative perception – a place that has symbolised peace and tranquillity for decades almost destroyed by two acts of aggression and hundreds of acts of mis-reporting.

When I see the families of those who lost loved ones in the bombing go back to spend time with the locals, it brings a tear to my eye – because despite going through absolute heartbreak, they know the truth – the people of Bali are a loving, warm and peaceful society that would never wish harm to happen to anyone.

Working on repositioning Bali was one of the best and most interesting things I’ve ever done [you can follow my story about it by clicking 1st post, 2nd post, 3rd post, 4th post, 5th post] and while it played a very, very, very minor role in the countries resurrection, I know it captured the majesty of the place which inturn helped overcome some of the negative perceptions that were flying around … so maybe there’s hope for Indonesia [I know Bali is part of Indonesia, but in most people’s minds, they are totally different], because if we can stop the masses from being brainwashed by the propaganda that’s banded about, then maybe some bridges can be built with a culture that truly wants a happier, healthier World for all.

I know Indonesia is up for it – how about you?

25 Comments so far
Leave a comment

The guy behind your beloved Economic Hitman would be very proud of this post, it’s brilliant.
Without decrying what the members of “Planning For Good” are attempting to do, this is the real deal because you are talking about doing things that would have a truly enormous positive impact on millions of lives.
What I love about this post is your passion comes through. You don’t do it to try and satisfy some ego shortfall or validate your existence, you do it because you care and of course there are lots of people who feel this way, but you do something about it and something interesting, relevant and powerful.
Great post, I’ll have to make sure I don’t let work get in the way of popping by 🙂

Comment by Pete

Well done Robert, more evidence on why a more political stance for cynic should be embraced.

I had forgotten about your Bali project, you really captured the majesty of the place so I hope the Indonesian Government let you loose on the bigger part of their domain because you respect and understand cultures and that’s very rare, especially in advertising.

Good post, well done.

Comment by Lee Hill

On reflection, my final sentence of my previous comment seems condescending, I apologise, that was not the intention, I was simply trying to say that I found this an excellent post in a blog full of excellent commentary.

Comment by Lee Hill

its posts like this that remind me how lucky i am to have you in my life. dont think that makes up for all the times you fuck me off or talk shit, but youre a special bloke and posts like this prove it.

and seb where the fuck are you? you had your chance to be #1 today and fucked it. kids today, no fucking hunger.

Comment by andy@cynic

What my boss said.

Comment by Billy Whizz

I’ve enjoyed reading this post Robert and hope we played a small part in your appreciation and desire to help make the World get a better place.
Keep it up and please come and visit us when you’re next in Melbourne.

Comment by Judy Slatyer

it has to be your influence judy, when i met campbell he thought wales was on the axis of evil

Comment by andy@cynic

We look forward to welcoming you in Jakarta. And this time, please get out of the hotel and the semi-automatics that surround you. I’ll show around. What say you?

Comment by rashid

you can only do what that rashid bloke offers if you do the fucking document you have promised to deliver to me by friday. and being arrested will not be a good enough excuse.

Comment by andy@cynic

Apologies to Andy and Rashid but Robert is out with me tonight and he’s not going to cancel it. Don’t worry Andy, I’ll get him home in time to do whatever it is you need of him.

Comment by Aja

Great post. Also I might add that the Indonesians have something special that I like very much. They are the most individual Asians I’ve come across. Great people and worth getting to know their 20th century history because as Pete points out the U.S. and its economic hit man features strongly in both the book and Indonesia.

Indonesia would easily be top of the news if it wasn’t for China. They have the largest population amongst the S.E. Countries and are a cool bunch of folk too.

Comment by Charles Frith

Lets not forget that it was the US (the CIA) who actually trained Al Quieda.

Great post though.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

this is all getting a bit too “robs a great guy” for my liking so let me get things back on track by pointing out the best thing about building bridges with indonesia is the access to their fucking hot women.

yes, thats a much better thread for this post.

aja, get the fucker home by 10pm though hes such a light weight these days hell probably be begging you to let him get back to his hotel by 7. big girl 🙂

Comment by andy@cynic

Do you really have that much money to split between the hot females of Indonesia Andy?

Comment by Rob Mortimer

theyd be paying me

Comment by andy@cynic

Andy want prenup?

Comment by Rob Mortimer

you should of said that about 15 fucking years ago mortimer

Comment by andy@cynic

Yes. Its my fault you married a Heather Mills instead of a Jill Campbell 😉

Comment by Rob Mortimer

hey rob, i’m sure you’ve got no time to spare, but there’s an ace cross-cultural arts initiative between australia and indonesia which is worth checking out.
looks at the process of art communities and collectives in both countries. not sure where it’s at, or where it’s located, but it shows yet another side of indonesia, which doesn’t often get showcased.

Comment by lauren

you fucking creep mortimer. well done, good one.

Comment by andy@cynic

Ta. Besides, I heard yours was much better looking than Heather Mills…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Hello Rob,

Shifting the perception of Indonesia sounds like a great idea for the next APSOTW assignment. I’ve been enjoying your brilliantly incisive blog entries and look forward to taking part for the first time in the next APSOTW assignment.

Best wishes,

Comment by Naoko

And the award for the most original use of the phrase “brilliantly incisive blog entries” goes to Naoko.

Comment by John

my shit is better looking than heather mills so thats no fucking big deal is it mortimer?

Comment by andy@cynic

are you a wannabe planner naoko? dont creep to campbell, hes a nothing but to be fair, he knows it

Comment by andy@cynic

Leave a Reply