Marcel Thee
Marcel Thee
Marcel is a Jakarta-based journalist and writer who covers everything from culture, lifestyle, to business for the Nikkei Asian Review, Rolling Stone, VICE, The Jakarta Post, and more.

Ghost hunters armed with sound recorders and infrared and thermal cameras prowl buildings, dark alleys and roads in Indonesia looking for proof that spectres are real. They are jinns, they say – proof of the vastness of God’s creation.

Drawing Star Wars characters and superheroes like Thor, the X-Men and Venom for Marvel Comics is the realisation of a childhood dream for Ario Anindito and Alti Firmansyah. They talk about how they followed their passion.

Communities across Indonesia are promoting traditional toys and games to get children away from playing on their phones. The games use simple props such as chalk or ropes, and are healthy and strengthen the sense of community.

Indonesians are often spooked by cemeteries, but members of Indonesia Graveyard have never questioned their dedication to visiting them, despite the odd looks they get.

Indonesian duo Bottlesmoker are making a name for themselves with their music created for plants, using sounds and frequencies that relax them and chime with humans too.

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His Candid Camera-style pranks have made Yudist Ardhana one of Indonesia’s top YouTube stars, but he still harbours hopes for his magician’s act.

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Ria Ricis is one of Indonesia’s biggest YouTubers, known for her gag videos, celebrity home visit videos, and reviews of soft foam toys, but she had to experience failure first.

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Atta Halilintar isn’t just Indonesia’s biggest YouTube star with 25.5 million subscribers, he’s also a businessman who’s always thinking how to expand his empire – but he says his fame and fortune have come at a price.

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Japanese live-action tokusatsu shows – think Power Rangers – became huge in Indonesia in the 1990s. Interest has not waned among thousands of diehard fans, and some have created their own tokusatsu series.

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A group of record collectors are preserving Indonesian music of the 20th century with their archival project Irama Nusantara, covering everything from pop and rock to protest albums and traditional sounds.

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A pale-faced woman with staring eyes, a demonic pig, a white-shrouded corpse – cast of spooks from Indonesian folklore makes DreadOut an international gaming hit.

From Iwan Fals and Nidji to Vincent Rompies, Indonesian music stars, bands and producers are turning to social media to connect with isolated fans, playing from their homes, conducting live Q&A sessions and offering other types of creative content.

Bali’s beaches have a real trash problem, but one islander has fought it for 15 years. Komang Sudiarta mobilised a mass campaign, Malu Dong, to educate and galvanise local groups to get involved in cleaning up, sorting and recycling waste.

Classic pork dishes seem an odd thing to look for in Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim majority population in the world. But Facebook groups are praising them and restaurants specialising in pig meat are on the rise.

Do aliens exist? A Facebook group of 13,000 believers in extraterrestrial life, Beta-UFO, has been making their case for two decades in Indonesia, where most of the 265 million population tend to ascribe anything unexplained to the occult.

Indonesia is famous for its delicious street food, and the country’s Bakmi Club is dedicated to eating and talking about the best noodles in Asia. Members share six of their favourite noodle sellers.

Justin Bieber, Angelina Jolie, Miley Cyrus and even Indonesian President Joko Widodo have all featured in Agan Harahap’s doctored photos. The fakes, with the contrast between glitzy celebs and humble Indonesian surroundings, have gone viral.

The 69 Performance Club, an Indonesian performing arts troupe, puts on shows that are impossible to ignore – think a man in his underpants slapping his body for 10 minutes, or a woman who performs under a large cloth.

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Mentally ill Indonesians have to battle superstition and prejudice daily, with ‘advice’ from families and friends often including a lot of praying. Online groups like KPSI, however, let them share and learn from others with similar conditions.

Many Indonesian atheists remain in the closet, but with the help of the internet, their critical conversations are slowly seeping into the public discourse.