Playboy Launching Goes On Amid Protests in Indonesia
Indonesia's PT Velvet Silver Media has said yes to the launching of a local version of Playboy magazine in March amid protests from conservative Muslim groups and national politicians. The magazine however would not publish nude pictures due to cultural reasons. It would instead cover Indonesian celebrities and experts on many fields.
Ponti Carolus, the director said on a news conference, "Our concept is lifestyle and world class journalism. Our articles will have high quality, including conventional issues." Women would certainly not be treated as an object. For an instance, he added, British band Rolling Stones was also on the cover of Japanese Playboy. Furthermore, the distribution of the magazine will be controlled because it will only be available by subscription and at selected retailers. The name Playboy is in all probability merely an affair of convenience to reach more sources.
But conservative Muslim group Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia is not buying it. "Different or not, Playboy is Playboy. It is a porn magazine. Those are the words of the businessmen. The magazine will damage the morality of the nation," chairman Irfan Awas said.
The disapproval is also backed by The Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI), the country's top authority on Islamic affairs. Maruf Amin, head of MUI's fatwa commission, says, "The government should forbid this kind of media, as it will cause a strong reaction from people and tend to bring anarchy among the people who are against this magazine."
The Indonesian Press Council, on the other hand, says it has no right whatsoever to ban the magazine as it is part of legally registered franchise--despite some members' personal objection. Chairman Ichlasul Amal commented that it was a premature step to criticize the Indonesian Playboy prior to its publication. No magazine can be banned in Indonesia's new era of democracy due to the government's declining intervention in the press.
Surprisingly enough, some Indonesian women have done a spread or two for Playboy in other countries. Borneo-born Jodi Ann Paterson is perhaps the most popular after being named Playmate of The Year 2000. Other names including Petra Verkaik--Miss December 1989 and model Tiara Lestari.
Indeed, pornography is against the law in Indonesia; where most people practice moderate Islam with no restriction on whether or not women must wear veil. Nevertheless it is not difficult to find pirated pornographic DVDs in public places. Hardliners have yet to do anything about these; which makes it rather odd that all of sudden they are united to speak against something that is still uncertain. Business lasts so long as there is demand, does it not? Erotic magazines--as well as other form of pornography--are no exception. It is a little out of place to say that a single magazine could utterly ruin a nation's morality--regardless of the content. So, why bother?