Seems cinematic kathoeys are in the crosshairs of the public-morality minders at Thailand's Ministry of Culture.
Along with banning the release of transvestite director Tanwarin Sukkahapisit's Insects in the Backyard, the Culture Ministry has also cracked down on controversial director Poj Arnon, ordering him to change the poster and title for the third film in his Hor Taew Taek (หอแต๋วแตก) cross-dressing horror-comedy series.
On the original poster for Hor Taew Taek Waek Chi-Mi (หอแต๋วแตก แหวกชิมิ), lead actor "Tack" Paranyu Rojanavudtitham was pictured in just a pair of skimpy white briefs, surrounded by hefty male comedians who are wearing elaborate wigs and revealing women's bathing suits.
Tack was ordered to put on more clothes by cultural authorities, I guess for the sake of public order and morality.
So now Tack appears shirtless, in a pair of jeans, in a pose that is reminiscent of members of the Wolf Pack in Hollywood's Twilight Saga films. He's still surrounded by the bathing-suit-clad comedy drag queens.
The outspoken Poj had this to say, according to the Bangkok Post's Mae Moo on Sunday:
"I don't understand what's come over Thailand ... what a strange place," he said last week. "A guy appears in a pair of swimming briefs and falls foul of the censor. Yet women can appear in skimpy bikinis and get away with it.
"Seeing a woman in a bikini could motivate a guy to commit a crime. But how many women who see a man in a swimsuit will do bad deeds?"
As for the film's title, it was originally Hor Taew Taek Haek Chi-Mi (หอแต๋วแตก แหกชิมิ), with Mae Moo saying waek is "a more polite version" of haek, meaning to force or spread apart.
The movie's title is actually pretty hard to translate to English, with most pundits I know saying they won't even attempt it.
Apparently, according to the Thai Audience Network, even the change from haek to waek isn't really making the Culture Ministry happy.
Also at issue is the chi-mi tag at the end of the title. That's a slang phrase that's cropped up in colloquial Thai in recent years. It's added to the end of a sentence when someone is trying to get a point across or make sure their facts are straight. It loosely means "is that right?" or "yes or no?"
Deputy Prime Minister Trairong Suwankhiri recently took issue with the chi-mi phrase and lamented what he sees as the general deterioration of the Thai language.
The Nation's Veena Thoopkrajai covered the issue in her Venus Vision column on Saturday:
[Trairong] says he is worried about the deterioration of Thai culture, especially the language, and he would like the National Film Board to look into language usage in Thai soap operas and movies. During the meeting, the title of a gay-themed comedy, Hor Taew Taek Haek Chi-mi, was raised as an example of improper language usage. (Sorry, the translation of this movie title is beyond me.) To nobody's surprise, the ministry has already disapproved of the title. "Sometimes we don't even know if the word is Thai or English," noted Trairong, who also extended his concern on the threat to the Thai language to music.
The Hor Taew Taek series began in 2007 with a cross-dressing ghost comedy that had the international English title of Haunting Me. Last year's sequel Hor Taew Taek Haek Krajerng (หอ แต๋ว แตก แหก กระเจิง, a.k.a. Oh My Ghosts!), was a big box-office success for Poj and his producers at Phranakorn.
Hor Taew Taek Waek Chi-Mi is due in cinemas on