Monday, October 27, 2008

'Thais, as a whole, don't care ...'

The Asia Media Forum follows up on the banning of the Japanese drama Children of the Dark at the Bangkok International Film Festival, with comments from Thai documentarian Pipope Panitchpakdi, who says the ban was unfortunate in light of the new Film Act -- due to be enacted any day now -- in which a ratings system, rather than censorship, is supposed to be the rule.

Authorities always think that viewers need to be protected and shielded from real issues. They still have that kind of sentiment that the media should function as a gatekeeper. That is, let the good stories in and the bad ones out. It's okay in certain circumstances but not when talking about real, serious issues," Thai documentary filmmaker Pipope Panitchpakdi told AMF in a phone interview.


"This country has no problem with hypocrisy; we don't see anything wrong with double standards. We have sex workers in corners of the city, but we can't watch people kissing," said Pipope. "If you do a film about Cambodia now, it's most likely to be banned. It is all about relativism to the extreme," he added, referring to the volatile situation that Thailand and neighbouring Cambodia are in now due to the disputed Preah Vihear temple at their border.

Pipope noted that while there are indeed movies that, instead of pushing important issues, are self-serving and merely highlight the skills of the director, censorship still has no place in the industry. "I am all for film ratings and not censorship, and this includes all kinds of films, yes, even the self-serving ones," he said.

"If they (audience) don't like it, they can picket in front of theatres or boycott the film," he added.

Unfortunately, he noted, the Thai public are not as involved as he would like to expect. "Thais, as a whole, don't care because they don't feel it's tampering with their rights. There's not enough public debate going on about this."

Also unfortunately, the new Film Act still contains provisions for banning films for national security reasons -- whatever those are -- and I suppose there's still the possibility that censors will still wield their scissors, Vaseline, and pixellation software even on films rated for audiences 20 years and over.

The whole article is well worth a read, and not just for the comments by some "Bangkok-based journalist".

(Via Mindanao Examiner, Prachatai, FACT,

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