Clinton’s appearance on Indonesian ‘TRL’ inappropriate

I’ve been refl ecting on Hillary
Clinton’s recent trip to Asia in
her new job as U.S. Secretary of
State. I’m pretty sure that the most
important stop on the week-long
diplomacy tour was Indonesia.
It wasn’t because President
“Barry” Obama attended school
there, or because Indonesia is the
most populous Muslim-majority
nation in the world; and it wasn’t her
meeting with Indonesian President
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono or
the Greenpeace protest outside the
presidential palace that made it so
momentous.
No, the most important,
momentous-some might say
“awesome”-visit that Clinton
made while in Indonesia was her
appearance on the Rajawali Citra
Televisi Indonesia (RCTI) program
Dahsyat-whose title in English
translates as “awesome.”
The usual guests on Dahsyat
are pop stars, and the usual topics
are vacuous. According to the
“Indonesian Heartthrob” blog,
the show’s tagline, “deretan lagu
hits teratas,” or top hit songs list,
describes the show accurately.
In a venue that could only be
described as analogous to the
now-defunct “Total Request Live”
show on MTV, Clinton fi elded
questions from model and host
Luna Maya, and special co-host
RCTI news anchor Isyana Bagoes
Oka, answering with a level of
obscurity that only an American
politician could manage.
Maya asked Clinton where she
would like to return to vacation in
Indonesia. According to Clinton,
not so much one specifi c place, but
everywhere.
Really? Everywhere? I’m
pretty sure there are parts of
Indonesia that she would most
defi nitely NOT want to visit. The
broadest possible answer worked
well, though, to cover the fact that
the truth was likely more along
the lines of “nowhere,” or at the
very least “uh, I don’t know my
Indonesian geography.”
Clinton did her natural best,
appearing rigid and serious while
surrounded by a select audience
of giddy young women-although
she looked every bit as awkward
answering pop-culture questions
as Maya did talking about U.S.
foreign policy.
K-Pop techno beats and a
peppy video graphic looped in
the background as the interview
progressed, and I couldn’t help but
wonder who was responsible for
booking Clinton’s appearance on
the upbeat, youth-oriented show.
Dahsyat may be more popular
in Indonesia than the news-
according to Dipnote, the offi cial
U.S. Department of State blog,
it has “many times more viewers
than even the number-one national
news program in Indonesia.” But
does that make it the best venue
available?
Not necessarily. Imagine if
foreign diplomats who wanted
to address the American public
did so by appearing on American
Idol. Though it would probably
be hilariously entertaining, which
Clinton’s awkward appearance
certainly was, it would also be
somewhat unprofessional.
Opinions from Clinton
supporters speaking out on
HillBuzz, a Clinton fan blog, were
mixed. The HillBuzz post about
the appearance stated that she
shone in the appearance “because
the interviewers put her at ease and
have no adversarial agenda (like
the U.S. media clearly does).”
Commentators on the post were
supportive of Clinton, but ranged
from questioning why she didn’t
use the opportunity to make a fi rm
stand against “Islamofascism,” to
wondering why she was booked
on a “fl uff” show, eventually
degenerating into name-calling the
president “Omoron,” and stating
“Hillary Clinton is my president.”
But the question has to be
asked, if even the fi rmest (and
perhaps most fanatical) Clinton
supporters are wondering what
our Secretary of State was doing
on this particular show, perhaps it
was a bit of a bad call.
If a show’s popularity is a good
enough reason for political fi gures
to appear, given that eyeballs are
already pointed there, than perhaps
we should move the Inauguration
to Super Bowl halftime.