This article discusses implicit moral messages in the Palasik film. This film is based on a myth from West Sumatra society as a creature invented by someone who is a Black magician looking to live long in the world. At night, while looking for food, Palasik let’s go of his head and floated in the air. Palasik food is a fetus that is in the womb of his mother. Stories like this make film creators unable to avoid the element of violence in visualization. As a result, many criticisms of this film consider it to be extreme, especially at the moment when Palasik is preying on a fetus in the womb and blood is splattered everywhere. Also, the visualization of explosions for women who have just given birth by first pouring gasoline on them is considered excessive. In general, horror films get criticized because of the content of pornography and violence in them. The crucial question is whether or not the Palasik film does not contain a moral message? This study uses a narrative analysis approach. Data was obtained through in-depth observations of the story of the film arranged from scene to scene. The author interprets the film scene after scene and concludes the moral message hidden in the story. The results showed that the Palasik film conveyed many moral messages, although not explicit. For example, it conveys that collective unity can defeat evil, excessive love can make a person less alert to something bad around them, aggressiveness is formed based on habits step by step, revenge has made humans lose their humanity (especially for invented creatures like Palasik which are certainly more destructive), and power-hungry humans are willing to serve Satan in order to achieve that power.
Horror films are a genre of film that has never subsided. They have been produced from year to year. Primada Qurrota Ayun (2015: 1-10) summarized the history of horror films in Indonesia starting in 1941 through Tengkorak Hidoep by Tan Tjoei Hock and following Lisa ( 1971) by Shariefuddin. These two films are referred to by the analysis of films as the foundation of the horror or mystical genre in Indonesia. In the 1980s, it was said that Indonesian films experienced their heyday, not only because of the production of horror films is very much, but also because horror films generally attracted the attention of the audience. This is coupled with the many awards received at the festival because they are considered have quality from a certain side. Ratu Pantai Selatan film ( 1980) for example, received an award for special effects qualifications and Ratu Pantai Hitam film ( 1981) received many nominations at the 1981 Indonesian Film Festival (FFI).
According to research by Muhammad Luthi ( 2013), the peak of the horror film in the 1980s was marked by the number of horror films produced reaching 84 film titles. But of the many horror films that have received the most appreciation from the public, only one film stars Suzzanna. The beautiful and sexy figure of Suzzana's artistry attracts the spectator's attraction. This is coupled with the storyline that pushes myths about Ratu Pantai Selatan ( The queen of the southern sea), Nyi Blorong, Sundel Bolong, all of which are known and even believed to exist in people's lives. It also mentions freedom of work outside politics in the New Order era caused this film to get a place in the government.
Previously, many Indonesian horror films depended on
the themes of traditional myths and legends, so after 2000, Indonesian horror films dared to present more varied themes, such as the lives of teenagers in urban areas. In early 2018, horror films showed their dominance in the market. In the first semester of 2018, 48 horror titles appeared, which from the title and poster were very exciting. The purpose of this style of film is indeed to frighten the audience. The genre's titles include; Kafir, Sebelum Iblis Mejemput, Sesat, Ninik Towok, Gentayangan, Jailangkung 2, Sajen, Jaga Pocong, Alas Pati, Bayi Gaib, Rasuk, Titisan Setan, Munafik, Sakral, Kuntilanak, Bisikan Iblis, Kembang Kantil, Arwah Tumbal Nyai, Tumbal The Ritual, The Secret, Suster Ngesot, Syirik, Jaran Goyang, Gost, dan The Origin of Santet.
Based on the circulation of the film, according to the records of Cinema 21, Blitzmegaplex, and film producers, which were published by the filmindonesia.or.id account ( 2018), of the 15 best-selling films in 2018 semester, horror films contributed 7 best-selling films, namely; Danur 2: Madah (2,572,672 spectators), Jailangkung 2 (1,498,635 spectators), Sabrina (1,337,510 spectators), Kuntilanak (1,236,000 spectators), Sebelum Iblis Menjemput (1,122,187 spectators), Rasuk (900,362 viewers), Sajen (792,892 spectators).
The horror film genre initially refers to the protrusion of the film in scenes of scenes that make the audience’s adrenaline pump due to a series of stories that are difficult to guess and often contrary to logic. Tension grew worse because of the illustrations of music and visual effects that strengthened the gripping atmosphere. Because of that, in the Big Indonesian Dictionary (KBBI), the term of horror is defined as something that creates a very terrible feeling or fear. As a result, it has nothing to do with Satan, supernatural beings, haunting spirits and the like. Maybe because Indonesian people do believe in mystical things like that, so filmmakers try to adjust to the characteristics of the market. Therefore, since the beginning of the horror films since the 1940s, the mystical nature of Indonesian horror films has become very dominant.
Why is this mystical horror film dominant? The answer is because the audience like it. Films are made to meet the market demand. If the market does not require there is no possibility of supply. After 2000, according to Erni Herawati (2011: 1408-1419), the rise of horror films in Indonesia began in 2007, i.e. when the Terowongan Casablanca film managed to capture an audience of 1.2 million people. Horror films (900,000 spectators), Suster Ngesot The Movie (800,000 spectators), Pulau Hantu (650,000 spectators), Pocong 3 (600,000 spectators), Lantai 13 (550,000 spectators) and Kuntilanak 2 (550,000 spectators). In 2008 horror films included in the top ten movies were Tali Pocong Perawan (1,082,081 spectators) and Hantu Ambulance (862,193 spectators). In 2009 there were Air Terjun Pengantin (1,060,058 spectators), Suster Keramas (840,880 spectators) and Setan Budeg (700,000 spectators). In 2010 there were two films included in the top ten films with the most viewers, i.e. Pocong Rumah Angker (502,387 spectators) and Tiran ( Mati di Ranjang) with 418,347 spectators.
The passionate phenomenon of watching national films, on the other hand, brings optimism to the domestic film industry, although many groups accompany that optimism with anxiety. According to Herawati ( 2011), Indonesian horror films are covered in mysticism as well as pornography. Many of these horror films are wrapped in pornography, incorporating erotic and sex-charged themes wrapped in mystical and pornographic titles. Herawati mentioned several films that indicated pornographic wrapping such as: Arwah Goyang Karawang, Kuntilanak Kesurupan, Pocong Ngesot, Pelet Kuntilanak dan Kalung Jelangkung.
The reason for the potential for social anxiety towards mystical horror films wrapped in pornography, according to Herawati ( 2011) and Alex Sobur (2003: 127) said, lies in its depiction of things which are contrary to the standards of good taste of the people, which were feared to have an adverse moral, psychological, and social aspect, especially among the younger generation.
The content of pornography in horror films is only a small part of the tendency of Indonesian films to often use women as objects of spectacle. In other words, Indonesian horror films tend to contain gender bias in the form of exploitation of women. As revealed by Ajeng Febri Kusnita ( 2010) who examined the content of horror films in the ‘80s, ‘90s, and 2000s, concluded; ( 1) The discourse on the exploitation of women's bodies in Indonesian horror films in the ‘80s, ‘90s and 2000s is displayed in the form of a female body as a fragment by highlighting the thighs, chest, shoulders and arms, hips and buttocks and showing women's desire for men through facial expressions and gestures; (2) Discourse on the exploitation of women through characteristic appearance. In this case, the female figure is shown as a sexy and aggressive figure; ( 3) Discourse on the exploitation of women in patriarchal culture by placing women as a source of problems, victims and as objects of men's desires.
According to the study of Meg Downes ( 2014) on horror film audiences among young people, Indonesian horror films do not educate and do not inspire the nation, although films often produced do not reflect real reality, narratives created and consumed can explain social dynamics. This finding is similar to Thomas Barker’s conclusion in his thesis ( 2011) that Indonesian films are no longer relevant to the dynamics of society. But according to Downes, although it is not relevant, film is an entertainment media that has a function of cultural space where there is mutual competition between various identities and hopes for Indonesia's future.
Although the film is initially the result of artistic creativity, the production process cannot be separated from social creativity, starting from the basic idea of the story, the perspective is taken in narrating ideas to the focus of the dominant object to be visualized. The film that is being made after no longer belongs to the art world but can reflect the social map that existed in its time.
Therefore, for Ariel Haryanto ( October 22, 2017) social films are more serious than data such as scientific books and People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) decisions. Why? Because in movies we can pay attention to the person who made the film and they are big businessmen, In other words, the aim of the filmmaker to make a profit. Making films requires large funds, requiring a large investment. Films are made not for political purposes, but for making money, and they can only make money in a way that pleases people. Therefore, methodologically, the film becomes interesting to note because the film is a citation or affirmation of what has become the norm in society. Filmmakers don't want to take the risk of making too-strange things. He only reaffirmed what the people believed. Maybe the film does not always reflect reality, yet it clearly reaffirms the norms that have become dominant.
Although moral horror films are considered to be of poor quality, why do horror films appeal to the audience? According to Benedikta Desideria ( 2017), there are four, namely; ( 1) Feeling satisfied after watching a movie. The sensation after finishing watching a horror movie is something that is sought by lovers of horror films. As revealed by Glann Spark of the Brian Lamb School of Communication in the United States, after leaving the cinema, the audience generally did not feel afraid, but rather satisfied. This explanation is almost the same as ( 2) the release of the Andrenalin hormone after passing tension; ( 3) gender factors, more men enjoy horror films because they feel like brave creatures, and ( 4) the release of stress.
From the explanation above, it is emphasized that it is very unlikely that the educational and social vision in the film would be comprehensive and intact. Film is not the same as scientific work that allows the owner of the idea to make it whole, in detail, and not mixed with imagination. Film as a spectacle is the result of a compromise between market tastes and idealism. Therefore, to take "teachings" from a film requires wisdom. Audience must carefully examine entertainment content with contents containing life value.
This article aims to find moral messages hidden behind the mystical content in Indonesian horror film.
The film that was observed was a horror film, Palasik ( 2015). Using a qualitative approach with narrative analysis methods. According to Rachma Ida (2014: 147), narrative analysis is used as a way to understand or know how a story or storyline is made or structured. Analysis uses three concepts, namely story, plot, and genre. Stories are chronological sequences of all events or meanings of events, while plots are anything that is explicitly indicated in a film's text or an event that is shown physically. While what is meant by genre is a type of film that is divided into action, horror, comedy and drama films. In this study, horror films are specifically choosing with the assumption that the film is made to entertain and also to convey moral messages to the audience. A film creator is not likely to make a film just as an Ulama preaches before his congregation, because it will certainly be boring and will not be watched. Therefore, moral values are inserted in the whole story and dialogue in a particular dia. This is similar to the silat story written by Asmaraman Kho Ping Hoo, which inserted wise words behind the scenes of dangerous martial arts scenes.
For the needs of analysis, films that are observed based on aspects of the story (narration) are converted from the visual dimension into certain meaningful texts. The story aspect can come from all stories from the film and from the plot. The meaning can also be obtained in the film based on verbal dialogue carried out by the characters.
The film that will be examined is titled Palasik ( 2015) by director Dedy Mercy. Produced and in collaboration with Movie Eaght, Rumah Satu Film with Popcorn Film. In 2015, the film entered the top 5 box offices, along with Magic Hour, Komedi Modern Gokil, Tiga Dara, dan Demona.
Concept of Implicit Moral Messages
The implicit meaning can be found in the messages hidden in images, text (dialogue), and montage techniques. In Roland Barhes, semiotic terms is referred to as "denotative meaning", meaning adapted to the context. That is the situation is uncertain. JAQUILINE MELISSA RENYOET (2014: 43) described moral messages as both bad teachings about actions and behavior. It is different from the holy book, which defines good and bad clearly with a standard measure. While the film is a combination of works of imagination with story objects, the nature is vague. With this ambiguity, the audience is required to work creatively to interpret it themselves according to their perceptions.
Moral Concept in the Horror film
Frederick ( 2018), announced 5 moral messages implied in Asian horror films, namely: ( 1) Don't disturb if you don't want to be disturbed. The filmmakers want to convey a message to the audience that ghosts will only get angry if they are disturbed, whether intentional or not. Especially humans; ( 2) Respect local customs or culture. Horror films often accentuate sacred places or places that are thick with mystical atmosphere. Often, the main character is not polite, challenging and even violating taboos that are not allowed in that place. So, it can be guessed that in a film's story, the main character usually gets a curse; ( 3) Excessive fear will only plunge you. If the main character has been terrorized by a supernatural being, fear will usually emerge. Fear causes a loss of common sense so that an action can actually harm itself to the point of death; ( 4) Never bully anyone. Often highlighted, is the bullying that causes death, then his spirit becomes a ghost and revenge; ( 5) Blind love can be a serious problem. For example, one partner becomes a ghost, then still wants to establish love. Then a third person appears. The ghost is jealous and spreads terror.
While the moral message in the Indonesian Horror film examined by Elita Sartika ( 20 1 4: 6 3-77) found moral messages in the form of: ( 1) Moral in human relations with God, ( 2) Moral in the relationship between humans and other humans, ( 3) Moral in relation to nature, ( 4) Moral in human relations with oneself.
“Palasik” Film Resume
This film tells the story of someone who adheres to black magic to prolong life and gain wealth and power. Palasik knowledge owners let go of their heads and float when they want to prey on babies in their mother's womb. Palasik knowledge can be studied and derived.
One day a customary leader who knew that there would be a baby who was believed to be the Queen of Palasik later on, called on his citizens, so that the mothers and daughters would enter the house, while the men came out together to arrest Palasik. Palasik gave birth to her own daughter and took the baby out in order for the baby to be saved. Then the newborn mother was dragged out of the house and burned alive. Before Palasik’s death, she tried to leave the prospective Queen Palasik baby to someone, but no one was willing to accept the baby. Finally someone told her there is a rich couple whose house is large but has no offspring. Palasik put the baby outside the fence until the house owner finally found it. When the baby turns 8, Palasik mother came to the house by disguising herself as a housemaid. Begin, Palasik mother prepares this child to become the queen of Palasik, which is by feeding the baby with meat and blood mixed with rice porridge. After caring for this child for eight years, the child preyed on her stepmother's baby as the first food as the Palasik Queen.
In the scene above, the masses poured gasoline on Palasik, who had just given birth and burned her alive. Panuju (2018: 221) states that the form of riots carried out by the masses tends to be preceded by the formation of a mindset about something, that is a collective enemy, in order to be resisted and destroyed. In the context of the Palasik, this film is about to reinforce the Palasik myth which is believed by the people of West Sumatra as being invented due to black magic in order to live long. In order to live long, Palasik prey on babies who are still in their mother's womb. By eating a foetus, Palasik can live for a long time.
According to Emen ( 2016), there are two types of Palasik, first; Palasik Kuduang, which is the Palasik that releases its head and roams for prey. The second is called Palasik Bangkai, which is the Palasik that targets the bodies of infants or toddlers who have just died ( ). In this Palasik film, the Palasik mentioned is Palasik Kuduang.
Palasik is considered as the collective main enemy, and its existence is considered as a creature that causes suffering. In mass situations that bring hatred, hostility and revenge, their behavior tends to be aggressive. They have no mercy and no longer use common sense. Even as in the next picture. A Palasik woman who had just given birth to a child wailed for mercy, but the masses no longer cared. The masses poured her with gasoline and burned the woman alive.
Figure 4 shows that even though Palasik was a cruel creature, she was still sad and crying when she saw her descendants burned alive. Palasik also has empathy, which is a condition where a person can feel the other person's condition. Empathy has the function of moving feelings to be tolerant, sharing with others and helping each other (Panuju, 2018: 66), but can also lead to envy, jealousy, and hatred. In the next scene, this event makes this Palasik hold a grudge against the masses. A small baby is entrusted to a rich couple who have no offspring. After the child reached the age to be trained to become a Palasik, the grandmother came disguised as a housemaid. The grandmother begins to train the child by mixing meat and blood with porridge. After the child succeeded in becoming the Palasik Queen, vengeful terror was ready to be done. The implicit moral message is that, attitudes, behaviors, and individual references can be conditioned by habituation.
The moral message is then narrated in scenes between scenes 10:21 to 13:48. The description of the family that cares for Palasik children: The child who is already in elementary school, the husband who is busy as an entrepreneur and is running for the position of Regional Head, and a wife who is pregnant for four months. While there is no housemaid who is at home, there is no one who can work in that family until months. Such a situation causes husband and wife to feel desperately in need of a housemaid. Such situations tend not to be critical. So when Grandma Palasik knocked on the door and offered to work as a maid in the house, the couple received it without any conditions.
High expectations of something cause someone to accept an offer without taking into account the background. The appearance of something that is expected is considered as a help and a way out.
The next interesting scene is a dialogue between the customary head and Rizal (the stepfather of the Palasik children) who wants to inform him that there is something evil in his house.
Customary Chief (wearing a hat): Sir ... Mr. Rizal
Rizal: "Yes ... Sir ... This is for you (while giving money) Don't forget to choose Rizal ..."
Customary Chief: "Sir, I just want to tell you, there is something evil that threatens your family, especially your wife."
Rizal: "You want to threaten me!?"
Customary Chief: "I am not threatening. I just want to warn that there is something evil!"
Rizal: "Hi, precisely if it happens to my family, I am looking for it!"
The moral message is that, the concept of self as a candidate for regional head causes him to perceive the person who comes to him as a constituent who needs compensation. Panuju (2018: 44) states that the results of perception are inseparable from individual and social contexts. When the information that appears is not in accordance with his personal context, then the stimulus is interpreted as something unpleasant and as a threat. Finally, the message is not understood as information, which must be trusted.
Rizal only trusted the information after getting a call from his wife who had seen that his housemaid was a Palasik. At that time, his wife was being chased by Grandma Palasik who wanted to prey on a baby in her womb. The wife's shouting made Rizal panic. The message is that someone tends not to trust information from people he doesn't know. Awareness of a truth often arises after everything happens or is too late.
Genuine love becomes an obstacle to the formation of awareness of something evil. Although the stepmother had received instructions about Palasik in her house, for example through a dream where Mak Item (her housemaid) appeared as Palasik; Ijah (her assistant) also told the stepmother that every night she always see a flying head gliding from the house into the darkness of the night but the stepmother did not believe. Also, through a sketch painting made by her stepdaughter described the anatomy of the Palasik creature, but there was no thought that the Palasik was her stepdaughter.; The Stepmother is very fond of her stepdaughter ( Eva, palasik); going to school was ushered in a car, her bedroom was filled with luxurious furniture, and the stepmother's treatment of Eva was like her own child. Affection makes the stepmother lose awareness. Even when the husband learned that Eva was a Palasik, the mother tried to defend her. The husband chased Eva to the second floor with the intention of killing Eva, but the unlucky husband actually slipped down.
The discovery of the sketch is the night when Eva will turn into Palasik at 12.00 at night. When the husband fell from the second floor, the clock showed a few seconds until midnight. At that time, the stepmother was described as being pregnant. At the time when the stepmother was complacent, Eva transformed into Palasik and devoured the fetus in the womb of her stepmother when she first lived life as Palasik. The implicit message to be conveyed in this narrative is that excessive love causes a person to lose his alertness.
Likewise, in a peaceful situation, people tend not to be aware of any threats in their surroundings. This message was conveyed when the Customary Chief was drinking coffee in the shop, then saw Palasik fly through the trees. The Customary Chief cannot do anything without the support of citizens. In contrast to the initial description of the story, where the citizens united in fighting Palasik, so the Customary Chief easily mobilized the citizens with the slogan, "rather than we missed, we better go ahead ...". Now that the situation is safe, residents have lived with their own affairs, the Customary Chief cannot do much. What The Customary Chief could do was tell Rizal about the danger of Palasik to Rizal's family who happened that his wife is pregnant. That also did not respond well.
The moral message to be conveyed is "united to be firm, divorced is unable to do anything" or unite to be vigilant, itself becomes complacent. The youth in the village were complacent in alcohol and dance parties.
The Customary Chief loses the support of his citizens. That's when Mak Item came to take revenge by burning him alive, just like her daughter had been treated.
This film illustrates how the process of changing one's character through habituation. Mak Item changes Eva's character from a child to Palasik through food intake. Eva closeness to Mak Item was due to the reduction in attention when her stepmother was pregnant Likewise with Rizal who was busy campaigning to become the regional head. Then the closeness of Mak's item with Eva was used to condition Eva's habits in eating. Mak Item put fetal meat and blood into porridge little by little, the longer the dose was added, until finally Eva did not want to eat the food made by her stepmother.
After that, Mak Item began to put thoughts on Eva, that she was not Rizal's biological child. Eva is a Palasik child who was burned alive by the people of the village. Eva must take revenge. So on one occasion, Mak Item invited Eva when burning the Customary Chief who was the cause of her mother being burned.
After Eva believed who she is and how her future is. Mak Item strengthens Eva's mind by performing a flower bathing ceremony that has been mixed with fetal blood.
Thus, this film tells about the human nature that can be conditioned through stages of taking heart, pleasing himself, inserting evil thoughts, and finally becoming determined. After Palasik's character was formed on Eva, she ate the fetus of her stepmother.
Furthermore, the moral message that is to be conveyed is that for the sake of power, people often choose immoral ways. The moral way is considered ineffective. Finally, Eva became the Palasik Queen who was feared and respected by everyone. Even the doctors and hospital officials who took care of Rizal and her stepmother saluted Eva like the hospital director.
Even his former stepfather, Rizal, was offered by Eva with the words, "If you want to stay alive, rich, long life, power, then join me!" And Rizal, for the sake of that power chose to join Queen Palasik. Rizal was elected as the head of the region, which Eva referred to as the Regent. As a consequence, Rizal must follow whatever Eva orders, including when asked to evict a certain village. A criticism of power seekers often justifies any means, and not fear sin.
However, even though the film presents a very strong and many social moral message, throughout the duration, there was no religious symbol in it. Though usually in Indonesian horror films, mystics are always contested with religious symbols. The supernatural being is positioned as something evil and as the enemy of truth, while the pious person is described as a warrior over the character of Satan with prayer in the form of verses contained in the Al-Quran such as ayat Kursi, QS al-Ihklas, al-Falaq, and an- Nass. With the reading, the white light emanates from the reader and then shatters Satan with a scattering fire. Or depicted with prayer beads thrown in the direction of Satan and then causing an explosion, Satan died.
In this film, there is no religious symbol at all. In fact, if examined from the origin of the Palasik myth living in West Sumatra, the community should be close to Islamic values. Maybe the Palasik filmmaker wants to say something else, that inviting kindness doesn't have to be with linear text. To be able to understand a moral message, the viewer must do the work of thought, construct scene after scene and draw conclusions according to their common senses. In this case, the audience must actively build their own moral meaning without having to depend on stories and moving images. Film does not have to persuade the audience about good or bad, because human actually has the logic to reason or know things that are good or bad.
Therefore, besides not offending religious symbols, this film also does not hesitate to display (expose) violence in the form of blood splatter, burning of humans, eating fetal meat with pleasure. The description of the picture is not intended to teach humans to like violence, but to teach a moral message that violent behavior is formed due to burning vengeful fire.
Without the logic of the active construction of this audience, as written by Panuju (2017: 40), the mass media becomes like a cracked mirror, because the content of mass media tends to contain something that is anti-social, pornography, violence, fraud, hoaxes, and so on. However, if the mass media loses the element, it also causes loss of attraction as a spectacle. Because it is the only way the audience should be wise in approaching the mass media, including this film.
Film horror as a spectacle does not always have to contain a moral message linearly in the form of religious teachings that are positioned as a solution to mysticism. The Palasik film is a model of the horror film genre that does not introduce scripture verses, prayer beads and teachings. Instead, this film teaches moral messages through its paradoxical side. Viewers are only able to take moral teachings if they actively play their healthy reason to knit moral messages. Thus, this film still has educational functions without sacrificing aspects of the story and cinematography. As a spectacle it remains interesting, while the aspect of education is persuasive because it is not patronizing.
Moral messages that can be implicitly compiled from this film include: Collective unity can defeat evil, excessive love can make a person less alert to something bad around him, aggressiveness is formed based on habits step by step, revenge has made humans lose their humanity especially invented creatures certainly more destructive, power-hungry makes humans to willingly serve Satan in order to achieve power.
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