Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The war over Air Hostess War

I find Thai TV soap operas upsetting. Period. So I don't watch them.

But a group of Thai Airways International flight attendants can't change the channel, pop in a DVD or turn off the set and read a book. They find one particular program upsetting: Songkhram Nang Fah (The Air Hostess War or Battle of the Angels), which has just just started airing on Thai TV Channel 5. And they are making a national issue out of it.

The female lead is a charming flight attendant, the envy of her co-workers, and a married pilot takes a fancy to her. As with all Thai soaps, there is the usual overacting, screaming, hissy fits and unrealistic, overwraught melodrama. At one point, a girlfight breaks out over the saucy flight attendant and the lusty captain.

Thai Airways' in-flight manager Pichitra Taveerat told the Bangkok Post yesterday that she found the uniforms worn by female flight attendants in the show were inappropriate. The skirts were too short and the attendants showed too much cleavage, she said.

The Thai Airways flight attendants' union is calling for the show to be toned down. They have petitioned the Ministry of Culture, and will go to the the National Human Rights Commission and the Royal Thai Air Force, asking them to weigh in on their side, according to the Bangkok Post today.

"Exact, which produces this show, must be responsible to society and suspend the airing until the content is adjusted so that it is not so exaggerated," union chairman Somsak Srinuan was quoted as saying by The Nation.

The story has been picked up in the international press, with The New York Times, Reuters, The Guardian and The Independent among the hundred or so outlets covering it.

Says Noppadol Thaungthong, a flight attendant leading the cause:

This soap opera is insulting and damaging to the reputation of flight attendants. It’s all about sex and air hostesses beating each other up in the cabin because of love and jealousy. This kind of thing never happens. We are demanding that the station and the producers immediately stop airing this ugly soap opera.

In the show's defense, one of the actresses, Panwad Hemmanee, said it's not all about catfights, short skirts, cleavage and marital infidelity. She was quoted in The Nation:

We've got no intention to offend, it's a reflection of human reality that is full of love, greed, anger and obsession - be they in any kind of profession.

Oh wait, it is about catfights, short skirts, cleavage and marital infidelity. But Panwad added there were also many good characters among the flight attendants in the show.

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