Thai idols fall in line with orthodoxy
Poor coup-makers, no one wants to see them on TV. At 6pm sharp when the theme song begins, there's a rush of hands to the remote control. Not that you can escape them. The true mark of dictatorship is audiovisual dictatorship: They beam their images on every TV and radio channel, monopolising your sensory reception, like a sci-fi movie, or like a spoiled child demanding your full attention. At 6pm every day for the past four years, the hands clutching the remote have reached for the only possible button. Off.
In desperation, they try to shore up the ratings by bringing in celebrities -- poor celebrities, those pretty faces exploited by something much less pretty. When the "request" from on high comes, damned if they say yes, damned if they don't. They won't even get paid for "doing this for the country".
The latest roster of stars asked to appear on the 6pm show has caused a stir, especially at the mention of Cherprang Areekul of the idol group BNK48. On Tuesday, Cherprang -- as well as a few other beautiful faces -- will have a rendezvous with the PM and the cabinet before they take turns hosting Dern Na Prathet Thai Wai Teen (teen as in teenage, not foot), a youth-friendly version of the coup's 6pm propaganda. The calling of the BNK48 frontwoman attracts controversy because 1) Cherprang, 22, appears to be an eloquent woman with a forward-looking attitude 2) she has a lot of devoted fans who adore her looks, intelligence and cutesy Instagram updates, and 3) a lot of anti-coup males are also her fans, and now they're put in an awkward position since they can't both support her and the military that's now using her as a puppet.
Bangkok Post columnist
Kong Rithdee is a Bangkok Post columnist. He has written about films for 18 years with the Bangkok Post and other publications, and is one of the most prominent writers on cinema in the region.