I was born in Australia. Mum in England and Dad, Germany (although he is actually Scottish- long story). Growing up, I binged British shows, I can discuss English royal families and have travelled around most of the United Kingdom and Ireland.
This is my cultural background.
(Me in London, England. Feb 2020)
Looking to other cultures, I am definitely not as well informed. I have very limited knowledge surrounding Asian culture, I have Vietnamese friends and have been to Asian restaurants but still would not consider myself someone who has been exposed to that culture.
So, when watching Indonesian film ‘Love For Sale’ (2018), I was fascinated to see how much I would be able to relate to and elements that highlights the differences between the two cultures.
Today’s viewing was done in the hope that I would be able to engage in the process of conducting an ‘auto-ethnography’, which is “seeks to describe and systematically analyze (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno)”. I hope to understand the Indonesia culture by comparing to my own culture, to help form a better relationship with others and myself as well. I want to develop a better sense of why I experience things the way I do, and see if it helps me translate other cultural experiences. So, without further ado…let’s jump into the movie:
‘Love For Sale’ sees main character Richard struggle to find a date for a friend’s wedding and turn to a website to assist him finding someone, but the contracts longer than he expects, 45 days instead of 4-5 days, and the journey he goes on finding ‘love’ and himself in the process.
The two main takeaways I got from the film in relation to Indonesian culture:
- Relationships are important and move (very) quickly
- Food is a huge part of the culture
From the title alone, I was aware this film was going to discuss romantic relationships in one way or another, and as a currently single person myself, I knew this would be something I could even feel attacked by or laugh about (both occurred):
And so I decided to focus on this element of the culture, because I noticed a huge difference in the expectations of relationships, and more specifically, the speed at which they move. This was definitely something that throw me off the whole film, just because it really was such a big cultural change.
Throughout the film, we see Richard’s date receive a call from her mother and she casuals mentions that she would love to get them to meet. On the first date. As in, he had only just learnt her name, first date. The idea of this for me was shocking, and although Richard did cowardly leave via the bathroom, the discussion wasn’t viewed as particularly alarming because in Indonesia, there are some parts of the culture that even suggests skipping dating straight to marriage and because family is everything (a characteristic of the culture I personally think is amazing), to the extent of dating the wrong person can affect their reputation so the mention of date to a mother is normal and almost expected. For my family and cultural background, it is normal to wait until you feel comfortable before meeting parents, for example my brother who lives in England waited 3 months before (virtually) introducing his girlfriend to my parents so that he was sure about their relationship.
Throughout the film, we saw Arini (Richard’s ‘girlfriend’) constantly make and bring food to his workplace, make him dinner, take him to street markets. Basically, they were always eating, and even his workers at the store were always eating.
(Make sure you aren’t hungry watching this film!)
So it highlighted how important food was for relationships, and particularly for women to make for their partners. It is considered that a component of culture, the food has a significant role in shaping individual, and they can assist in developing and maintaining that culture further. I found this really interesting, because I know when I plan social events, it is often for dinners, but, it is very rare, my friends and I make food for each other, and if I were to go on a date, I would not be cooking, nor would I expect him to cook for me.
Seriously, always eating.
Further along the film, we see Arini take Richard to meet her family, and there is a really genuine moment in this scene which I respected. They acted as a family already, and there was a sweet moment that her father called Richard ‘son-in-law’. This is a strong assurance of the family’s acceptance of the relationship, for me this was almost frightening. I felt there was so much additional pressure being placed on them, and the expectation of them engaging in a committed relationship- remembering they had only known each other for less than 2 months! I have always been told to enjoy a relationship and truly try and know someone before taking the next step, i.e. 18 months minimum.
After this. we see Richard place an engagement ring out for Arini, who was still in her contract at the time, but this was, again, not alarming to him because moving quickly is acceptable, also because he is 41, so older and more mature to make this decision.
If I were to receive an engagement ring, I would be flattered but would refuse because I do not know my boyfriend well enough at that point. My parents would be horrified and thinking I’m pregnant or just plain stupid. This is a part of their culture that I was surprised by because there seems to be such confidence in people to know what they want and know their partners so quickly.
I enjoyed this insight into the Indonesian culture of food and love, personally very different from my own cultural background but I actually quite like the passion of food and love! Would recommend watching it!
Post Edited 3/09/20