Social Drama, Dangdut, and Popular Culture
In the beginning of 2003, in the midst of a stalling reformation, a national controversy arose surrounding the new pop cultural star, Inul Daratista, and her dynamic and erotic performance style. Hailing from humble roots in East Java, she soared to national stardom upon the wings of her energetic new dance style called goyang ngebor or “The Drill” that she displayed on national television. On the heels of her popularity, dangdut—a longtime popular local cultural form among the lower social strata—broadened in its fan base encompassing the upper classes. Nevertheless, a broad array of forces aligned themselves against Inul and her new, highly visualized form of performance, attempting to restrict her appearances in local and national contexts. Indonesians were divided over what this emerging star, her body and style, meant, and for a moment they sidelined many pressing problems as the debate raged. I will attempt to capture some of the social and cultural depth of this conflict applying a revised version of Victor Turner’s (1974, 1987) concept of social drama.
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