insights, ironies and idiosyncrasies in communication and design

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Tuesday, 18 August 2009

'Sor' point.

To manipulate the impact of the truth via a mass media smokescreen relying on the timely release of important news from one government department to distract public attention away from the error or evil of another is without question wicked; to attempt to achieve this effect through trumping one's own foul play with still greater controversy is pure insanity – though it seems such an improbable ploy may not be entirely without success.

It's by no mere coincidence that in a matter of days the Thai Ministry of Culture have unveiled their motion-picture industries ratings system and announced their plan to sponsor the historical epic Tamnan Somdej Phra Naresuan (Legend of King Naresuan) Parts III and IV. Neither moves have gone totally unnoticed, though as per usual it's the back pages and the web blogs where all the real reporting is going on – largely the result of course of self-censorship.

Bangkok Post columnist Kong Rithdee points out both banning and cutting of a film are still possible and that it remains uncertain if the board will demand scenes cut before issuing a rating or not. And while it’s this hidden seventh category – apparent by its omission or at least lack of icon – which has caused the most consternation (as it clearly poses the greatest threat to filmmakers) it's the ส่งเสริม (promote) category that is, in my view, potentially the most worrying – especially in light of the financial aid that seems to be given to particular films of a certain ilk.

(Khun Kong also makes a case for the unjustness of arguably Thailand’s most successful film director receiving funding for his latest project while hundreds of indie filmmakers are left translating their treatments so they can hunt for cash overseas.)

Not only will the existence of official endorsement allow (possibly even encourage) censors to act corruptly, pocketing bribes for an official stamp of approval, but with such an official PR blessing in place (unquestionably as part of a continued overall panic to force the populous to abide to a strict conservative moral code) the very fabric of the currently flagging Thai liberal culture will be put under threat – with anyone at least slightly susceptible to a fad being turned away from the avant-garde by being turned on to screenings of didactic, preachy poppycock and pointless, saccharine fluff.

Via one of my favourite Thai-based Twitterers – Wise Kwai.

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