Mimpi, boleh kita katakan, adalah saluran setengah ghaib ketika saluran normal dalam dunia nyata tak bisa kita gunakan. Coba ingat-ingat, jika anda pria, dan dulu sering mengalami mimpi basah, bukankan anda tengah menemukan saluran setengah ghaib bagi kebutuhan biologis anda? Dalam kehidupan sosial dan politik-pun, mimpi ternyata bisa menjadi saluran semacam itu, ketika saluran normal bagi komunikasi politik masih belum berfungsi optimal. Mimpi, ternyata, bisa pula menjadi ruang publik.
Dari jauh di Australia, saya melihat dan mengikuti samar-samar bahwa di Indonesia tengah populer acara TV berjudul Republik Mimpi. Saya ikuti beberapa episode acara TV ini melalui YouTube. Dan saya akui, acara ini memang unik, meski bagi sebagian orang mungkin terasa terlalu nakal. Salah seorang diplomat Indonesia di Perth pernah mengeluhkan pada saya bahwa acara ini telah mempermain-mainkan tokoh-tokoh penting di negara kita, yang sebagian adalah simbol kenegaraan.
Keberatan ini tentu bisa dipahami. Namun barangkali kita bisa juga melihat bahwa acara ini adalah refleksi masih mampetnya saluran-saluran komunikasi politik di negeri kita. Saluran politik itu bisa berupa partai politik, parlemen, atau organisasi kemasyarakatan. Saluran politik ini berguna bagi masyarakat untuk menyampaikan kepentingan mereka pada pembuat kebijakan. Kalau saluran ini tak berfungsi, memang diperlukan saluran lain, termasuk kritik via acara TV ala Republik Mimpi itu.
Secara pribadi saya menikmati acara ini. Yang paling saya senangi adalah kelakuan Wapres JK alias Jarwo Kuat. Akting Butet sebagai SBY kok terasa tak sebagus ketika dia menirukan Suharto. Tentu yang paling mirip dan terasa sangat piawai adalah Gus Pur yang menirukan Gus Dur--bukan saja aktingnya yang sangat mirip, namun juga logika berpikir Gus Dur bisa disalin dengan mantap oleh Gus Pur.
Tempo hari, acara ini diulas di salah satu stasiun TV di Australia. Berikut transkripnya:
Republic of Dreams
REPORTER: Ginny Stein
REPORTER: Ginny Stein
In Australia, political satire has had an incredibly rich history. Then again, we have been a democracy for over 100 years. But apparently, to our north, our giant neighbour Indonesia - not even a decade since the fall of the Suharto dictatorship - finds itself glued to a television show that actually lampoons the nation's politicians. Up in Jakarta recently, Ginny Stein found local viewers are lapping it up. But, not all that surprisingly, those in power are finding the jokes just a little harder to take.
It is the most controversial program on Indonesian television. The team from 'News.Com' is on a roll, and its young audience loves it. Known for satirising the nation's leaders, even the theme song has a message about free speech.
THEME SONG (Translation): “Criticism’s normal, human beings have their faults.”
The Republic's cast are clever caricatures. Here's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, known as SBY, but on the show he's called Si Butet Yogya. And this is former president and blind cleric Abdurrahman Wahid, known in Indonesia as Gus Dur, but here he's called Gus Pur. As always, the program is introduced by its writer and creator, Effendi Gazali. Tonight there's the News of the Week, including a segment featuring Australia.
EFFENDI GAZALI, ACTOR AND ACADEMIC (Translation): We begin with a report from March 13 about cattle imports that have cost the country 11 billion. The cases involving fictitious items are unbelievable. Just think, there have been fictitious export documents. Then there were fictitious diplomas. In Puncak, there was a fictitious marriage. Right? Now there have been imports of fictitious cattle, a substantial number of them, 2150 fictitious cattle. They are said to come from Australia. What's your opinion, sir?
GUEST, (Translation): This is a difficult issue, Effendi. Yes, yes. Even if the cattle did exist, it would still be difficult. They'd be victims of a crime. We'd have to question them. Question the cattle. Isn't that right? If they existed, we'd have to ask "Hey, where do you come from?"
SBY, (Translation): You're all crazy! What is this? The cows are fictitious. So why argue about them? What sort of leaders are you?
The idea for the program began here at the University of Indonesia where Gazali lectures in politics and marketing. When these post-graduate students began their university career during the 3-decade rule of President Suharto, a program like 'Republic of Dreams' would have been unthinkable.
EFFENDI GAZALI: The 'Republic of Dreams' is a groundbreaking political satire in Indonesia's television landscape. Because we quickly learn that we need this kind of TV program to guarantee the checks and balances mechanisms hand in hand with the checks and balances mechanism in the parliament building.
But even now, nine years after the reign of the seemingly untouchable President Suharto came to an abrupt end, lampooning the nation's leaders remains a risky proposition. Threats have been made to take this show off the air, apparently from people who are very well connected.
EFFENDI GAZALI: At least we survived two efforts from other parties, we do not want to directly say it is the government, to intervene or to, let’s say have influence on our show. First when they try to approach the television station owner, and the second when they try to approach the main sponsor, but we could survive these two efforts.
The program's most vocal critic is the country's real-life Information Minister, Sofyan Djalil.
SOFYAN DJALIL, INFORMATION MINISTER: The first time I think the program is OK, you know. It's entertaining. But when the same program was shown again and again and then they direct it exclusively on presidents and vice-presidents, on totally the issues of this country, I think the program is not funny anymore.
Indonesia has steadily been making democratic reforms, but the 'Republic of Dreams' is proving a real test for humour and hierarchy.
SONG (Translation): “We all have to understand this country still has problems. But we shouldn't give in. Look on the bright side. Criticism's normal. Human beings have their faults.”
SOFYAN DJALIL: First of all, I think leadership need to be respected at all levels. Because that is the nature of life, you know. Hierarchy is in fact everywhere and we need to respect hierarchy to make the society work.
REPORTER: But don't you think the public can draw the distinction, that they can appreciate that that is humour, that it is political satire?
SOFYAN DJALIL: Oh, yeah, maybe for certain element of Indonesian society, sure. I myself I can differentiate that. But the Indonesian is not me. Not the high-level educated people of Indonesia.
BUTET KARTAREDJASA, ACTOR (Translation): I shouldn't smile much. I have to act using hand gestures to create an artificial sense of dignity.
Leading Indonesian actor Butet Kartaredjasa, who plays the role of President SBY, believes the Minister is living in the past.
BUTET KARTAREDJASA, (Translation): The minister's not ready. The people are ready. If this show's been a success, it's not because of me. It's because of the cohesiveness of the team, the actors in this political parody.
In the old Indonesia, they would have simply shut the program down. But in this new world order, politicians are learning a new way to work with the media, and Effendi Gazali gets a call from the ministry.
EFFENDI GAZALI: So it is good news. I just got a call from the Minister, Ministry of Communication and Informations, told me that he is on the way. So we will have the ministry in our show today. Great then.
REPORTER: Does that mean he supports you?
EFFENDI GAZALI: Um, not sure yet. We just waiting what he will say in our show.
Indonesia's Information Minister wants a chance to state why he believes this show is not good for the country.
SOFYAN DJALIL: I asked the producer to allow me to come to the program, because I want to criticise and to put my perspective in their program so then the people know what is my main argument because I believe that program do more harm to the society than good.
In today's audience, students from a banking college and a private university. But while the show's creators want to make politics palatable for the masses, it doesn't turn away from tough issues such as the plight of victims made homeless after a mud volcano swamped their homes, even when that message is disturbing to hear.
EFFENDI GAZALI (Translation): Could you tell us what's happening here, your experiences?
WOMAN (Translation): At the moment I'm feeling sad. Why? I've been in this camp for almost five months. The effects on my family have been... devastating. Respected gentlemen, you sleep soundly on soft mattresses. The people here don't have mattresses to sleep on. We sleep on mats like these. I have children. My parents-in-law are in poor health. Life is hard.
Somewhere between the heartache and the humour, that the Minister is attempting to get his message across.
EFFENDI GAZALI, (Translation): And now Mr Sofyan Djalil will tell us what he's been wanting to say about this show. Go ahead, sir.
SOFYAN DJALIL (Translation): I think leadership at all levels has to be respected. Why? People need leadership figures. If these leaders are "ridiculed", to use the English term, then our society will have no one to guide it.
But from the show's fans, there's this advice - Indonesia's leaders should toughen up and learn to accept criticism.
LAW STUDENT (Translation): I think that the way 'Republic of Dreams' says things is more civilised than protests involving anarchic behaviour. Protest through comedy and dialogue on the show is better and more educational, I think.
For now, there appears to be no backing down in the conviction of its creators to broadcast and be damned.
GUS PUR (Translation): True leadership can never be satirised. If there is strong leadership, parody won't survive. If there is strong leadership parodists will look like people who need to get a life. Why make such a fuss?