London Loves To See Me Go, But Hates To Watch Me Leave
Or whatever it is you say to people with a nice ass. Reflections on love and London, Minion Music, Westworld, and more!
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I’m experiencing a bizarre bit of cognitive dissonance upon returning to Jakarta. I don’t feel this way often, I think it’s happened about twice in my life—once when I first moved back from London, and another when I was about eleven moving from Kuwait to Indonesia. I used to compare it to putting one life on pause and pressing play on another. This time those lives didn’t feel very separate.
I adore London, we know this, despite it’s high cost of living (monetarily and that of my dignity) and water density that makes my hair all gross and weird. The one thing I didn’t want to happen happened: it made me want to move back again. A friend of mine put it in perspective in a really lovely way: I was loved and I had loved in London, and it’s hard to leave love behind.
There’s a lot of love in Jakarta too, I’m really lucky to have it everywhere I turn. I’m sure I’ll be able to make a home for myself in Vancouver in a few months, despite not knowing anything about it outside of being the birthplace of one of my comedy idols (Nathan Fielder). I think the discomfort I feel right now, if I can even call it that, comes from the attempts to reconcile two facets of my identity that are essentially, at least on paper, one and the same. It’s still me. I still have to code-switch no matter what country I’m in, I still have to play the age old jigsaw of percieving and being percieved. It’s just the way things go.
I think I made the most out of my trip. I learned a lot (an entirely new skill formally, no less!) and most importantly, I think I learned to let go. Not of London altogether, but the pressure of always having to be in London or chase a return. I’ll be back, I just don’t know when yet. Priti Patel can’t get rid of me that easily. It is harder to get rid of me than it is to get rid of Boris Johnson, apparently. (EDIT: Boris Johnson has since been gotten rid of (?) from when I wrote that sentence. INSANE. But bloody finally!)
I’ve learned to let go of outcomes, and how competitive I’ve stopped being. In a weird way, I think I’ve learned a lot about being Indonesian. I never felt like I could stake a claim to an identity I was literally born into, and now I know I can. I got really lucky this time around with the people I lived with, two sets of genuinely great housemates. For June, all my flatmates were Indonesian. There was always rice and saus sambal at the flat, and I was introduced to a plethora of Sundanese emo rap. I wish I had that sort of environment when I first moved to the UK, but at the same time, I feel like I’m old enough now to appreciate what about my very specific (yet universal) cultural comforts make me feel at home anywhere.
I’m never in one place for longer than five years. That’s just how my life has gone, and I’m very grateful for it. I’ve been really lucky to see the world and make a home for myself in my own peculiar little way. I think it’s why leaving London and the idea of coming back somewhere down the line doesn’t freak me out as much as it used to.
When I first moved to London, I felt like I had to prove or perform my “Asian-ness”, or rather “Indonesian-ness” even more than I usually would. Like any former South Jakarta international school attendee, I was pretty reluctant to admit that I’d been pretty Westernized, even though it was painfully obvious. Pretty whitewashed, unfortunately. How cringe! A Banana, a Coconut, or other fruit euphemisms for feeling like a foreigner in your own land where people look like you!
I remember feeling like I was the most unfortunate cultural ambassador for Indonesia anyone would meet at Freshers’ Week. I felt like I barely knew anything about where I was from. I knew the Sparknotes version, the Bintaro lens affixed firmly on how I viewed Indonesia as “home”. Home-but-not-quite-home. This was how I felt I was 18, more excited about living alone for the first time than anything else. I think it stems from something my parents had said to me, they always made sure to tell me to carry myself well because, and I understand how dramatic and extra this sounds, I would be “representing Indonesia”. What a lot of unnecessary pressure for an 18-year-old that barely knew anything about themselves!
I don’t think it’s patriotism or pride I feel, I just feel a little better knowing my relationship to ‘home’ will always change, and that it will always be an expansive change. The question of ‘home’ is always a tough one for me, not for any sad or uncomfortable reason. I just don’t have a stationary home. I used to feel like I was missing out when my British friends would talk about their hometowns, but I have like three towns I could and do still call ‘home’. This whole ‘third culture kid’ thing is hilarious, actually. Can’t wait for more shits and giggles as I get older.
I always have a great time in London. I got to see Top Gun: Maverick at the Peckhamplex. What more could anyone ask for?
Welcome Home, Cheater, Yeehaw!
Pedro Almodovar’s upcoming Western Strange Way of Life stars two of Oscar Isaac’s side pieces, Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal. I’m obsessed with this film already, it’s not even out yet. Almodovar calls it his answer to Brokeback Mountain. You already know it’s going to be incredible. It’s apparently only going to be 30 minutes, to which I say that isn’t enough, I need three hours! I can’t want to watch Elvira Lind’s Instagram stories of Oscar watching people he regularly flirts with for press tours flirt with each other. What a time to be alive.
If you can expect anything from a Minions movie, it’s shameless pandering to the Indonesian market. I vividly remember a point in 2015 where it came out that Minions co-creator and voice actor (and subsequently designer of Minionese) Pierre Coffin has Indonesian lineage, his mother being Javanese-Bugis novelist NH Dini. The Minion language does borrow a handful of words from Indonesian, French, Spanish, and Japanese—you hear it a lot more in Minions 2: Rise of Gru.
I did not see Minions 2: Rise of Gru in theatres ironically, my eight-year-old cousin wanted to go see it for a second time and I happily obliged to accompany him. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, and also hear with my own two ears Phoebe Bridgers’ cover of Goodbye to Love by the Carpenters.
This film has a soundtrack to rival the likes of Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn, Lorde-era Hunger Games, or any pre-Charlie Puth Fast and Furious films. Banger after banger, featuring an ensemble of well-curated artists in the public’s general conciousness. If you told me BROCKHAMPTON would be on a Minions OST, I actually don’t know if I would be shocked or be completely unphased. They were on the Space Jam 2 soundtrack, after all. Perhaps that’s what they’ve been up to amidst their break-up and mounting abuse allegations: children’s films soundtracks.
Taylor Swift Basement Resident Jack Antonoff produced most of the songs on the soundtrack, including but not limited to a cover of Nancy Sinatra’s Bang Bang by Caroline Polachek that sets the tone for the film’s James Bond-like opening sequence. I like that my cousin asked me what each of the songs were and I was able to tell him if I recognized the song or artist. It is quite odd that his first exposure to Phoebe Bridgers is this film, and not some adolescent heartbreak somewhere in his future. We should let Jack Antonoff out of the basement more often.
Westworld Is A Place On Earth With You
Another season of Westworld is upon us! As my favourite TV show ever that isn’t NBC’s Community, I welcome its return with open arms! With every season of this show, I’m always excited to see what pop song Ramin Djawadi has decided to make an orchestral arrangement for. Last season, I became thoroughly obsessed with his version of Wicked Games by The Weeknd and Moses Sumney’s Doomed. Whilst Season 3 may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, I liked how they widened the scope of the show whilst still interrogating questions about the future of artificial intelligence. I actually really liked that whole thing about Rehoboam!
Season 4 opens seven years after the events of Rehoboam’s collapse, and we meet a woman called Christina who eerily resembles Dolores (we do not know yet what her deal is, if she is a Host or not, but we do know she’s roommates with Ariana DeBose). The first episode ends with Djawadi’s take on Lana Del Rey’s Video Games as a former series regular emerges from the shadows. It’s jaw dropping, at least to me personally anyway. I love it when Westworld gets super on the nose when repurposing pop music and referencing a plot point, as per their earlier seasons’ use of Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black and Paint It Black by the Rolling Stones.
Lisa Joy, your pandering is working on me! Well done! Can’t wait for the rest of the season! More Born to Die please!
He Can Ball!!!
My favourite sport is Basketball and my favourite hot guy is Jon Bernthal. Put the two together? It’s over for me. Photos from the set of Showtime’s American Gigolo have surfaced once more of this newsletter’s top contender for Fixation of the Century. And he’s playing basketball. Bernthal has famously chronicled his time playing pick-up games on Venice Beach, or whenever he’s in the vicinity of a court. These photos live in my head rent-free. Do with that what you will.
I have yet to watch The Bear, although I have been informed that Bernthal makes a brief appearance. I know nothing about that show, but I will bet you a lot of money that Bernthal either plays a dead person or a soon-to-be sexy dead person. Will any of you take me up on that wager?
Set Me Up!
One of the first things I did upon returning to Jakarta was to watch Netflix’s Set It Up. I think I can feel a burgeoning case of Glen Powell brainworms coming on, I’m just trying to beat myself to the punch. Set It Up is one of the more memorable rom-coms in the streaming era. It’s sweet, it’s friends to lovers, it’s Cyrano. What more could you want?
Since it came out in 2018, I’ve noticed that I watch it at around the same time every year: when I’m getting over a crush. No matter how intense or brief the crush, I will, for some reason, run to this film for some sort of solace. This time around, after crushing on and getting over said crushes on two (pretty close) friends of mine, I think I finally understand what doing my own thing really means. The Pattern app, famously terrorising myself and Channing Tatum any chance it gets, said that I’m being forced to stop looking for a part of myself to be fullfiled in another person. So true, bestie! I need to cut it out with that shit, consciously and unconciously.
There’s a bit in Set It Up that I think about a lot, and it’s not their iconic “and yet..” moment, encapuslating how you can like someone because but love someone despite. It’s the part where Harper’s roommate smacks some sense into her, how a bad first draft is better than no draft at all because at least you have something to work with. You have, No Chris Evans, a starting point. A lot of ‘putting yourself out there’ is weird to me, but I started and now at least I know what I’m working with and what not to expect? And I think I’m better off for it too. I now know that I am the kind of person to tell a crush how I feel to just get it out of the way. And since I was lucky enough to fancy genuinely good people, they were cool with it! And we’re better friends for it! I think I’m also still unlearning a lot of middle school/high school age beliefs about my own self-worth being situated in how desireable or ‘relationship-worthy’ I am, which thankfully, at my semi-big age gets easier to deal with over time.
The takeaway I’m leaving with after salving my “wounds” in Glen Powell and Zoey Deutsch flirting with each other is that not all hope is lost. Not yet anyway. I can and will still be able to meet nice people. There are still nice people out there, no matter how dire the bloody dating cesspool is right now. There are, of course, people that move mad for reasons beyond my own comprehension. Nonetheless, there is hope. This piece by Bolu Babalola for Elle has put a lot of my own hopeless romanticism into perspective. She wrote: “being a romantic means that heartbreak doesn’t mean your hope breaks.” And that’s true! Most heartbreak is survivable, no matter how dire it feels in the moment. I thought I would never recover after I got my silly little heart broken three years ago, but here I am now, continuing to be on the mend. I’m not nor have I ever been a fuckboy, I don’t know why I’ve been cosplaying as such and moving as mad! I am a hopeful romantic now, I suppose. I am done playing the game, put me on the bench coach! Or whatever it is people do during sports!
Eyeballs of the Dead
My buddy Andrew has graciously featured me in their horror comedy short for the Soho Horror Festival’s Eurovision Horror competition. Not me in TWO Eurovision themed competitions this year! I had such a blast shooting this, especially dying on camera! Slay!
Insert Nose Wiggle Here
I had the pleasure of speaking to my buddy Petros on his fabulous Caged In: Coppola Connections podcast about a truly underrated Nicole Kidman picture, Nora Ephron’s Bewitched (2005). I think Nicole Kidman should do more weird little movies like this. She does a lot of weird shit, but we need to return to form. Bewitched would make a perfect double bill with Gus Van Sant’s To Die For (Nicole as a Deranged Woman in Entertainment). Listen below:
That’s all for this week! If you’ve enjoyed Hyperfixate or any of my other work, consider supporting myself and said work via Ko-Fi below! Slay! See ya in a bit!