Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The theatrics and reality of anger

People's anger will continue to exist as long as there is a source of frustration.

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“Kau gayut apa?!”

This was Malek’s iconic shout in “Melur vs Rajawali”.

This snippet from the film would occasionally appear as I scrolled through my social media feed, always guaranteeing a smile from me. I never really saw the entire film, but the shouting in the two minutes of that short scene purges me of the need to do the same.

Having lived through the scene portrayed in the film, I would feel the shout that I never uttered while at boarding school being verbalised into existence by Eric Fuzi. That anger, manifested by someone else, is enjoyable to watch because I relate to it – and so do many others.

Over the past few weeks, though, anger has appeared more frequently – not a theatrical or artistic portrayal, but a fully realised anger contained in the remarks and behaviour shown in shared media.

This is understandable given the rise in number of Covid-19 cases, which threatens the people with another bout of the movement control order or MCO. Political acts that result in disparity take the people closer to the brink of actualising a revolt which, however, only exists virtually. Still, to perceive life through the lens of the media is to encounter continuously surfacing remarks of anger and frustration.

Anger is not limited to media alone. It is spewed out so easily in conversation that to face individuals without a bit of anger in themselves is a peculiarity. It is entertaining to meet an acquaintance who threatens to spit on the face of the antagonist of their narrative, or pretends nausea over the mention of names that have tarnished the landscape of their lives.

Like the burst of anger and the nagging portrayed in “Melur vs Rajawali”, the threat and the pretence of sickness seem theatrical – an antic for entertainment purposes. But they are in fact a symptom of the suppressed frustration that we all have within ourselves.

People’s anger will continue to exist as long as there is a source of frustration. Anger exists as a power to push us into making our frustration known.

When we are angry at political players acting against the best interest of the people, our anger signifies the frustration of the people with oppressive conditions. When we are angry at new movements falling short in providing a long-term, actionable direction, our anger signifies a hope that seems to be used as a commodity in political business.

But sometimes anger is out of sync with the need to exert frustration and is simply to be enjoyed as it is or as an instrument for gain. When MPs hold shouting matches during parliamentary conferences, I doubt the antics are sincerely out of concern for the people. When student activists call on individuals from the student representative committee, the question is whether it is a genuine fight for students stuck in college or simply a show of courage.

The reality we live in becomes more a portrayal than a life lived out. There is a fetishistic tendency for anger as a convenient crowd-collector in piecing together a collective consciousness against a common antagonist. Idolatrous figures are the champion in this method of usurping dominance. Genuine anger out of frustration is an effort towards an objective solution, but anger as an antic is a blister on the flesh of the nation.

We need to acknowledge the way we emote ourselves through anger, and how anger may persist as a means of social transaction. The manners in which we may not be angry are decisions relative to the causes of frustration.

We may choose to distract ourselves from the sources that manifest daily by actions that may be only a brief haven from the anger that will always be available in excess.

We could also opt to indulge in the anger until the source dissipates, following which we may direct the anger at something else.

Or we could try to understand ourselves in the way we become practical with our frustration and the conditions under which the frustration arose.

Our understanding may not do much to ease the burden of living with frustration, but it might help us reflect on the worthiness of the anger from ourselves and in our perceptions.

Until then, semoga kita terus berbakti.

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