Titillating Thai TV is a turn off
I can’t remember the last time I had a good laugh while watching Thai television.
Nowadays, it’s hard to find good quality programmes that are both entertaining and educational. Most shows I see feature adult and violent content. Screaming, slapping, hitting, shooting, deaths and emotional and verbal abuse are seemingly staples of Thai TV programmes. Kidnapping, taking revenge, scandalous love affairs and family conflicts are all plots commonly used.
Quite understandably, these programmes make many parents feel uncomfortable when kids are around. A friend of mine, for example, doesn’t allow her children to watch prime time Thai soap operas that feature such content. She says she quickly changes the channel or just switches off the television set when offensive material comes on, telling her children that they are adult programmes. She reasoned that she doesn’t want her daughter imitating a “misbehaving” female character or her son mimicking a hero who uses violence to handle conflicts, as often seen on today’s shows.
Television can be a powerful influence in developing values and shaping attitudes and behaviours. Many believe there to be a clear link between exposure to violent media and violent behaviour.
In the modern world, children often grow up in homes where television is simultaneously one of the most important sources of learning and distraction. Many overworked parents expose their children to high doses of television as the easy option for entertaining their kids.
Watching television is a big part of most people’s lives and it can be good to watch a wholesome TV programme that illustrates and reflects the values we maintain in our family. In my childhood,
I remember a popular family TV show was Sam Num Sam Mum. This weekly Thai sitcom was about the relationship of three brothers. What made it stand out in my view was how it showed family members supporting each other in order to overcome life’s hurdles and how elder brothers can teach younger ones to handle problems in positive ways.
Thai TV is also loaded with reality shows, with a heavy emphasis on singing talent shows and magazine-style variety shows. They all look similar and are typically hosted by celebrities. Several of the shows feature a pair of celebrities travelling around the country, dining at well-known restaurants, partaking in recreational activities, going shopping and pampering themselves with beauty treatments at hotels that sponsor the show.
The arrival of digital television in Thailand would make competition in the industry more fierce, as a new range of channels enter the entertainment field. TV producers will then be expected to come up with better and more creative content in order to draw the attention of viewers and gain a competitive edge, which would, in turn, benefit audiences.
What we definitely need are more TV programmes that don’t turn children into horrible, misbehaving brats. We need quality shows that feature good, non-violent and positive content, especially for younger viewers, who are arguably most influenced by televised content.
Such programmes would not only be good for children, but for those in all walks of life. There is also a need for more quality family TV shows that contain good values and life lessons. We really want more programmes that are informative and educational, especially shows with engaging, riveting and challenging content rather than flashy images and noise. We really want hosts who are more than just good-looking with attractive personalities; we want hosts who are knowledgeable and have strong communication skills.
Hopefully, this cry will be heard by TV producers who care for the younger generation and by TV sponsors who care more for society than money.
Sukhumaporn Laiyok is a reporter at the Bangkok Post’s Life section.