Betawi Moderen: Songs and films of Benyamin S from Jakarta in the 1970s - further dimensions of Indonesian popular culture

David Hanan, Basoeki Koesasi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Benyamin S (1939-95) emerged as a major figure in Indonesian popular culture in the early 1970s as a singer and film comedian, and this study explores his songs and films. The article examines Benyamin’s adaptation of a traditional Betawi musical form, Gambang Kromong, into a modernized form, Gambang Moderen; his representation, in both songs and films, of Betawi communities, particularly communities of the poor; his creative use of bahasa Betawi as a medium for humor and as a language most expressive of community; and his capacity for pastiche, which extends to include an ironic Indonesian perspective on icons of Western popular culture. The article also explores the implicit critique, in some Benyamin S films, of social changes occurring at the time of rapid economic development in Jakarta under Suharto’s New Order in the 1970s.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-76
Number of pages42
Issue number91
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2011

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