Pornography is a notoriously slippery subject—and not in the way you're thinking. Instead, it is a hard concept to define. Even the US Supreme Court had such a hard time drawing the line as to what constitutes porn that Justice Potter Stewart threw up his hands and said about pornography, "I know it when I see it."
One problem: what shocks and distubs one part of the world is little more than heavy-handed advertising in another.
All this hit home this week when the Indonesian Food and Drug Monitoring Agency declared that a noodle snack should be pulled from shelves in the Muslim-majority nation because its packaging depicted an image they considered to be out-and-out pornographic.
In America, the land of breastaurants, the offending illustration could be an invite to an elementary school pool party. The noodle package shows a woman's torso clad in what, by Western standards, is a modest bikini. The woman is shown clutching a bag of instant noodles. Most offensive of all—at least according to the Indonesian authorities—is that the package bears the words "Remas Aku" with a heart. That phrase means "squeeze me."
A photo posted by Evhan Sunandar (@evhan182) on Aug 4, 2016 at 1:52pm PDT
Shocking? Not exactly, although it certainly is a bit distasteful. But in Indonesia, several governmental and religious groups see outright pornographic imagery on the instant noodle package.
The Indonesian Consumers Foundation called the Bikini Noodle snack "inappropriate," especially for kids. The organization, generally referred to as YLKI, now wants the snack pulled from shelves nationwide.
Abdul Rahim, head of the Food and Drug agency, told reporters that he doubts the snack has proper approval for distribution because the illustration is "pornography." Online ads have already been pulled, according to Daniel Tumiwa, the CEO of an advertising network known as OLX Indonesia.
Perhaps least surprising is that a religious group called Mozaik Islam posted on Instagram an explanation of its support of the ban: "This nation is a religious one and it has rules… Parents should be more selective in choosing snacks for their children." Just in case you weren't aware, Indonesia happens to have the largest population of practicing Muslims out of any single nation, despite constitutionally being a secular state.
Inikah yang disebut kekinian??? Ini sih bukan kreatif tapi sudah melanggar norma kesusilaan dan bentuk #pornografi,,, aparat penegak hukum harus bertindak. Produsennya harus diberi hukuman. Sebab adanya produk ini yakin saja ada unsur kesengajaan dan pembiaran untuk merusak moral anak di negara ini sejak dini. Dan harusnya Pemerintah tanggap mengenai permasalahan ini. . Bangsa ini adalah bangsa yang beragama dan punya aturan. Jangann merusak generasi bangsa ini,,, . Yuuk para orang tua lebih selektif dalam memilih jajanan untuk anaknya. Sesak hati liat produk yg makin keblinger kayak gini.. #boikot #bikini #bihunkekinian #badanpom . . Follow @Mozaik_Islam @Mozaik_Islam ➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖ Follow @Mozaik_Islam @Mozaik_Islam . . Tag 5 Sahabatmu Semoga Bermanfaat . A photo posted by Mozaik_Islam (@mozaik_islam) on Aug 4, 2016 at 6:53am PDT
This certainly isn't the first time that some instant noodles have caught the ire of Indonesian politicians. Earlier this year, Arief R. Wismansyah, the mayor of the Indonesian city of Tangerang, made headlines for publicly claiming that instant noodles and formula milk are actually "making babies gay."
Bikini Noodles may not have much of a future in Indonesia. Dress that torso in more conservative clothing, though, and the noodles may have a second life in the populous nation. Just don't squeeze the package.