PM seeks modern expression of culture

PM seeks modern expression of culture

Left: Tossakan guards the immigration section and currency exchange booths at Suvarnabhumi airport. Right: Tossakan on a bicycle. (Photos: Airports of Thailand, Fun to Travel in Thailand music video)
Left: Tossakan guards the immigration section and currency exchange booths at Suvarnabhumi airport. Right: Tossakan on a bicycle. (Photos: Airports of Thailand, Fun to Travel in Thailand music video)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed the Ministry of Culture to find the proper balance between conservation and modern adaptations of cultural heritage in the wake of the controversial use of the Ramakien character Tossakan in a tourism-promotion music video.

Commenting on the "Fun to Travel in Thailand" music video, Gen Prayut on Sunday said he was aware that the reaction to the issue was largely split into two groups of people.

“The first group are those who think like the teachers of Thai classical performing arts who regard Khon as a high art form,” Gen Prayut said. Rituals and customs to show respect and gratitude to ancestral masters must be strictly followed by khon practitioners. This was the conservationist approach, he said.

“The second group is people of the new generation who think it’s OK [to use Tossakan] for promoting tourism.”

“As a result, we will have to look at appropriateness. I’ve instructed the culture minister to work on the issue,” the prime minister said.

The four-minute-long video was directed by Bhandit Thongdee who was hired by a private company, V Bangkok Co, to promote domestic tourism. The video depicts the character Tossakan, the demon king from the ancient literature Ramakien, the Thai version of the Ramayana, and a masked-dance khon character, and his cohort visiting tourist attractions around the country, taking selfies, racing go-karts, riding banana boats, and cooking a Thai sweet called kanom krok.

Former Fine Arts Department official Ladda Tangsupachai suggested the video was inappropriate as it shows the fictional character from the literary classic doing activities that do not befit his status as the king of ogres as well as being sacrilege to khon. Ms Ladda filed a complaint with the Bunditpatanasilpa Institute, formerly the College of Dramatic Arts, seeking the visual content of the video be adjusted.

V Bangkok has deleted about 20% of the original footage, which previously features Tossakan in "mundane" scenes such as cooking kanom krok, racing go-karts, and taking selfies.

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