His Version, Her Version, the Public Consensus and the Elusive Truth

Everybody who’s had a lovers’ spat must be familiar with that famous line. Usually, and this is my experiences talking, after gaining timely wisdom one may look back to acknowledge that the truth was somewhere between one’s and the significant other’s versions. If one is that lucky.

In January 2005 Hollywood’s golden couple Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston announced their separation after 5 years of marriage. The pandemonium that soon followed was fueled by the collective star wattage of not only the couple but of also the rumored third wheel, Angelina Jolie.  Battle lines were drawn, teams were formed—cemented by LA-based boutique Kitson’s ingenious idea to sell ladies T-shirts emblazoned with words “Team Aniston” or “Team Jolie”.

It wasn’t yet the social media hashtag era but it was just as speculative, divisive and juicily murky that there were even books written on the separation. One scenario accused Jolie for seducing Pitt during filming, another blamed Aniston for holding off pregnancy too long. Every time the stars and their circle blasted off his or her version on interviews, the rumor mill span faster and spewed out wilder speculations. After a few years things finally died down and the public sort of settled with some version of Pitt walking out of Aniston for Jolie due to children-related issue, but none of us actually ever knew what had happened.

A very similar tale unraveled too in Indonesia back in the ‘90s, complete with fiery public spats and teary press statements played out on tabloids, between famous model Larasati and the Gading couple. In recent years we’ve got the shocking split of music golden couple Krisdayanti and Anang after over a decade of togetherness, and her subsequent marriage to businessman Raul Lemos. His and her versions were aplenty, the public gradually accepted some truth, and we all moved on to the next scandal while the real truth sank deeper into oblivion. Do we really care to know the real truth, though? Let’s revisit that question later.

This week, quite disconcertingly, the drama has been carried onto the country’s political stage. First was when the National Police Chief candidate, who’d been proposed by the President, was declared suspect by the anti-graft body KPK. Immediately scenarios were floated about; the President has seriously erred in judgment of character, a certain KPK chairman might still be bitter on not running as Jokowi’s VP, or the President was using KPK to indirectly refuse the candidate his patrons had pushed for.

It’s very comical that the last version was bounced by Jokowi’s staunchest supporters, perhaps to maintain his public image yet blatantly ignored the bigger danger that opinion posed; not only the President was powerless to hold his own ground, KPK wasn’t entirely independent of the ruling government.

While we were still busy figuring out what could be the least impossible truth, another juice was splashed on our handheld screens: pictures of KPK chairman in compromising situation with Miss Indonesia. Almost just as fast, theories were bounced about; the pictures were 80% true, the pictures were 100% fake, or the pictures had been doctored by Jokowi’s patrons aware of the said KPK chairman’s possible lingering bitterness.

Harta, tahta, wanita. The very three things Indonesians always say to be the ruin of men—wealth, power, women—are jumbled into this big mess, making this week a very hot January indeed.

Yet, just like we never really knew the truth behind celebrities split up, I think we’ll never know what’s actually going on behind the scene of this week’s political drama. For all we know, the ‘scenarios’ had been carefully concocted and volleyed to public by certain vested interests. We may identify the main actors and director, but I doubt the general mass can deduce who the scriptwriters are—the quiet ones away from the spotlight, writing the plot to dictate how and why the pawns move.

Do I care? The ‘why’ part worries me the most. I can peacefully go on with my life without knowing why Pitt and Aniston divorced, but I admit I’m bothered that I may not know exactly the truth behind the law-related mess this week. I’m bothered that I may never know truthfully what or who would make our Commander In-Chief take decisions. I’m bothered that this may be just the tip of a benign-looking iceberg got voted into the office. It’s not even 100 days yet into this administration, the very administration that was elected largely due to grand promises for being incorrupt and transparent, yet you can feel that “the powers that have been” remain “the powers that be”. And I’m bothered by it.

What now, then? As the Parliament is still far from voicing my aspiration, I can only speak up on media. I will speak up until the remaining energy is only enough to sit back and watch. After a while that’s what most of us will do, if the interest hasn’t run out faster. As a public we’ll collectively settle on some sort of version of what has been really going on this week before moving on with our lives or to the next national crisis, while the real truth is buried even deeper into the comfortable obscurity of backroom political deals and masterly scheming.

Now let’s turn to the E! gossip channel again. O truth, where art thou.

As published: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/01/17/urban-chat-his-version-her-version-public-consensus-and-elusive-truth.html


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