Love for Sale: autoethnography and analysis of culture

Love for Sale which is made in Indonesia and is a romantic comedy movie. To analyse and see the depth of this movie, it is necessary to understand the context behind the Asian culture as well as the concept of autoethnography. Ellis, Adams, and Bochner (2011) defined autoethnography as an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze personal experience in order to understand cultural experience. They also mentioned that “this approach challenges canonical ways of doing research and representing others and treats research as a political, socially-just and socially-conscious act” (Ellis, Adams, and Bochner 2011). Considering those described points, it is possible to imagine that there are some messages and pieces that the movie wants to deliver to the audience.

I would like to analyse there are two points that can be indicated in the movie. The two points are what people work and what people fall in love with.  

Love for Sale (2018), image, JustWatch

Love for Sale has two main characters which are Richard A. Widjaja who is a single man and Arini Kusuma who tried to change Richard to a better person. They met through a paid online platform that has 45 days of contracts aiming to find a partner. As they unfold the story, you would find what I mean by two points. The people who were watching Love for Sale at the tutorial of BCM320 showed similar reactions at several scenes. First scene is related to the work that I indicated above. As it has been a common stereotype that Asia is strict for time especially at the workplace. Employees are required to be on time. There was one scene that reminded you of this cultural aspect. In addition, Love for Sale drew that employees were only engaged under strict boss and they did not give objections to their boss. To explain why there were those kinds of scenes, I found one article that mentioned Asian culture. About the aspect of the workplace in Asia, it is explained that “as employees have to respect authority and implement super-incumbent decisions, they are reluctant to challenge the status quo and question a manager’s decision”  (Xie & Paik 2018).

In addition to that, there was another scene that reminds me of Asian culture which was the scene of Arini doing his best for Richard. I saw many tweets that said Arini was too nice to him because she did not mind and gave her best. To support the scene, I would like to cite this statement that identifies the relationship between husband and wife in Asia. It said “Asian women respect their men a lot.  They prefer to deliver their right to make decisions to men. and they like to follow their husbands and treat them with a big deal of respect” (Asian Women 2020).

Although there are other characteristic scenes that represent the Love for Sale including camera work and storytelling, I personally focus on those two scenes that I mentioned before on this blog. I have an Asian cultural background so those scenes did not surprise me and I could imagine that other people who do not have the background would have some thoughts at the same time. What I would like to highlight the point of autoethnography with Love for Sale is how to deliver messages including cultural backgrounds. Putting pieces of cultural stuff can be part of autoethnography and understanding the point will make sense to understanding the concept of autoethnography as well.

At the end of this blog, I would like to mention the ending of Love for Sale. Most people who watched the movie argued the ending was blurred and did not make sense. Stevens (2020) summarised romantic comedy is thought to be essentially calculating. However, it is not possible to say Love for Sale follows this definition because the ending leaves some room for us to think about what they intend to do. So not all romantic comedies suit the definition and I reckon the contradiction has room to explore the concept of autoethnography.


Asian Women 2020, The Truth About Asian Women, Asian Women, viewed 7 August 2020, <>

Ellis, C, Adams, T.E, and Bochner, A.P 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, no. 1, viewed 6 August 2020, <>

Love for Sale (2018), JustWatch, image, viewed 7 August 2020, <>

Stevens, K 2020, ‘Romantic comedy and the virtues of predictability’, New Review of Film and Television Studies, vo. 18, viewed 7 August 2020, <>

Xie, G & Paik, Y 2018, ‘Cultural differences in creativity and innovation: are Asian employees truly less creative than western employees?’, Asia Pacific Business Review, vo. 25, viewed 7 August 2020, <>

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s