Sacha Stevenson is a content creator on YouTube, on which she posts a series of popular, satirical, instructional videos on ‘How to be Indonesian’. Stevenson was born in Canada but has lived in Indonesia since 2001, and it is here that she started her YouTube series based on common quirks and mannerisms she noticed to be consistent behaviour amongst Indonesian locals.
Sacha immersed herself in Indonesian culture from the moment she moved there, becoming an English teacher, learning Bahasa Indonesian fluently by constantly talking to the locals and her students and even converting to and practicing Islam. She was also the first person to roller-blade across Java from East to West, after 6 weeks of training.
She has no intention of being racist towards Indonesian people, and it does not come off that way, however she has of course received some criticism and accusations. This criticism is increased due to the fact that her videos are broadcast on an open forum (YouTube) which means anyone can voice their opinions on her content, both positive and negative with no censorship or consequences. Sacha says of this experience ‘I’ve received death threats… but the response has almost all been positive. And the videos that cause some controversy also get the most hits.” On the whole, her series is presented in a very light hearted manner, and it is generally very well received, both by Indonesians, and others worldwide, with only a few minor exceptions and criticisms.
Some of the main cultural consistencies she points out in her most popular episode are creative driving habits, exaggerated kindness in the company of guests and the very common questions of ‘Have you eaten?’ and ‘Did you eat rice? If you don’t eat enough, you-ll get sick’. It is these small observations she makes that allow for a deeper development of knowledge and connections as it ventures below the surface of basic cultural understanding.
This is a great series for people who are interested in Indonesian culture as it provides accurate information from a knowledgeable source, without being too formal or tedious. The humour makes it engaging and encourages the viewer to continue watching more and more episodes. From the looks of things, Sacha will continue pleasing her fans and new viewers, by continuing to upload new content, saying “I don’t know how long the YouTube fame will last, Indonesia gets bored really quickly, but I think there’s still room to grow on YouTube. After getting disappointed with television and feeling the power of making my own stuff, it feels really good.”
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Stevenson, S. 2013, How to Act Indonesian, YouTube, Indonesia, viewed 22 April 2015, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bp2Fnt0VbSo>.