Critical Pleasures: Reflections on the Indonesian Horror Genre and its Anti-Fans

Drawing on ethnographic audience research carried out during 2013-2014, this article examines how young, urban, tertiary-educated Indonesians engage with the Indonesian horror genre. For most of these consumers, Indonesian horror films are the subject of ridicule and derision. With reference to Bourdieu’s theories of taste and distinction, I illustrate how the imagined “mass audience” of Indonesian horror functions as a symbolic “other,” emphasizing the cultural capital of more discerning, critical audiences. In exploring these audience members’ critical engagement with Indonesian horror, I also apply recent theories of “anti-fandom” that have come out of US cultural studies. There are many resonances between Indonesian anti-horror sentiment and US anti-fandom, but also some important divergences. I use these gaps and disjunctures as a departure point for reflecting on some of the challenges and opportunities of working at the intersection of Asian studies, media studies and cultural studies in the contemporary scholarly context.