The ban slapped on the last few episodes of Nua Mek 2 has made this TV drama far hotter than its producer could ever have expected. You are totally out of touch if you don't know that Thais have been talking about this subject practically non-stop since last Friday. It's the current hot topic.
I'm not a fan of the series and barely know who's who in it, although I did watch a few segments of a single episode a while ago. Normally, I couldn't care less what's going out on television or what programme is replacing which soap in a particular time slot. But this ban drew me back to my TV set again.
How could it not? Everyone was talking about it on Facebook. And some of the Myanmar expat workers I know cried out loud in front of their TV the evening the premature ending of their favourite series was announced. They even staged a silent protest _ although the Channel 3 management would never acknowledge that it had noticed anything amiss _ by not watching the first episode of the replacement series, even though this features heart-throb actor Naded Kugimiya.
The suppression of Nua Mek 2 wasn't the first incidence of TV censorship here and it certainly won't be the last. Prior to this we've heard about discreet tampering with, or the outright proscription of, feature films, locally made dramas and commercials, even. But such meddling tends to occur in the early stages of a project, long before content gets near the small screen. Never before have we seen a pre-recorded programme getting pulled off the air prior to the end of its scheduled run.
The irrational nature of the act was what ensured it made headlines in the traditional media the next day. The ban also spawned a new topic of discussion on public forums in the cyber world almost every five minutes. Three days later, a hacker wormed his/her way into Channel 3's website and on the home page prominently posted the following question: "Where is my Nua Mek?"
The remainder of the series was withheld, viewers were told, because of its "inappropriateness". What a completely absurd statement! What can possibly be inappropriate in a drama about good and evil goings-on in the world of local politics? It's interesting that it was obviously considered appropriate to replace the controversial Nua Mek 2 with a series in which two rich girls spend much of their time on air fighting over a guy (who happens to be poor, but is both handsome and smart).
What hypocritical thinking!
But then, after all these years of local dramas, nobody in authority in TV Land has ever questioned the appropriateness of screening violent scenes in which characters are shown fighting and killing each other, often in very brutal fashion. The images depicted are often very graphic, with blood being spilled liberally, once (for extra realism, supposedly) even spurting onto the camera lens! But this is apparently considered appropriate viewing for children sitting at home staring at their TV screens.
We have also been subjected to several soap operas in which the male lead enthusiastically mimics the raping of the main female protagonist. Then, in the final episode, the heroine agrees to tie the knot with her rapist and the pair lives happily ever after. C'mon, do you really expect us to believe that a woman in this day and age would willingly marry a guy who had sexually assaulted her?
The powers-that-be never censor violent or highly offensive content of this type, yet now we see them pulling a drama off the air because some unspecified part of the plot, presumably something of a political nature, is considered inappropriate.
Are we, the TV viewers of Thailand, considered so dim-witted or so intellectually vulnerable that we have to be shielded from allusions to people or events in local politics?
If the head honchos in TV Land want to force rose-tinted spectacles on us in order to maintain a rosy (or, should I say, naive) perspective of the world, then they should only screen dhamma talks by senior monks and positive, family-oriented dramas in which doting, ever-patient parents speak oh-so-politely to their ever-obedient kids.
Sirinya Wattanasukchai is a features writer for the Life section.
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- Writer: Sirinya Wattanasukchai