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Corruption in Indonesian Music Business

In their 2014 video «House of Greed» Indonesian heavy metal band Burgerkill talks about the massive corruption in their home country. In his commentary Indonesian journalist Rudolf Dethu shows how robbery affects the music business and jeopardizes youth-driven subcultures. From the Norient book Seismographic Sounds (see and order here [1]).

Film still from Burgerkill (Music), JungW (Video): «House of Greed» (Indonesia 2014)

Symbols of destruction – black beasts with snapping mouths, the last tree on earth falling over, and the Parliament House hijacked by students – are all that we see in the video «House of Greed» by Indonesian heavy metal band Burgerkill. This video is based on actual displays of blatant bureaucratic burglary, in a so-called kleptocracy where the government robs an entire country and its people. The story is inspired by the true life of a famous politician, who was once a close friend of one of the band members. The black beasts in the video represent that famous politician and his mates. This collective of thieves is never satisfied. They are always hungry, eat everything in sight, and continue to demand more. They will lie, steal, kill, and even swallow the last tree on earth, just so they can continue to amass seemingly unlimited wealth. They don’t care that the whole country suffers terribly as a result.

Facing Robbery as Concert a Organizer

However, robbery is not only happening in the upper ranks. Over the years, Burgerkill has seen kleptocrats in the lower ranks of the music scene, too. The cops are a great example. In theory, they should manage the safety of a concert for free as part of their job, but they ask for money. If and when event organizers don’t give them money as per their demands, they will typically stop the show and threaten those seen protesting with imprisonment. Large-scale event organizers have pre-allocated funds and can comfortably meet the «protection money» demands from the police, but for small independent organizers it is difficult to meet these costs. This obstacle has created a sense of defeat amongst many indie scenesters looking to organize gigs.

Film still from Burgerkill (Music), JungW (Video): «House of Greed» (Indonesia 2014)

Subcultural Consequences

If backhanded financial rewards continue I’m certain the consequences will be many. The youth-driven indie scene, its whole subculture, is dying. When kids don’t have outlets to release their energy the country can expect the tables to be turned and an increase in rioting and crime. All the anger and frustration that these kinds of crazy, daily, kleptocracies have created has permeated every aspect of life in Indonesia. It’s well represented by Burgerkill in «House of Greed.» Those greedy kleptocrats have created battalions of ignorant young people. We should expect a new generation of them.