It is ironic that the “experts” and bureaucrats on the Board of Censors can decide that a film cannot be watched by the general public because it would damage “public order or morals”, yet they don’t seem to get “corrupted” themselves.
Superiority and exceptionalism, it seems, is the nature of “good censorship”, if there is such a thing.
The latest example of such censorship was the banning of the film “Insects in the Backyard” directed by Tavarin Sukhapisit. The movie, offered as part of the Indy Spirit Film project at this year’s Bangkok Film Festival, is about Tanya, a transvestite father. Tanya likes dressing and leading the life of a movie star, thereby alienating his two teenage children, who eventually run away.
This synopsis was posted on prachatai.com, which is all we will know about this film because the censors decided last week that the content was unsuitable for people of all ages.
Never mind that the film might carry a message, or can be interpreted according to the viewer’s discretion. To the board, each and every Thai, not just those below 20, is so immature and vulnerable that they will be seriously corrupted if they watched this film.
Censorship, be it political or otherwise, lies in the hands of a few people who claim to know what’s best for the rest of us.
Obviously Thais and foreigners who occasionally stray into Thailand cannot think for themselves or be entrusted with their wellbeing, which is why alcohol can only be bought at specific hours.
The authorities are also trying to ensure that no alcohol is sold near schools and universities, while colleges in England provide subsidised booze at their wine cellars.
Like Singapore, Thailand wants to be a nanny state. Be it intentional or not, many citizens end up becoming “eternal children”, being told what political content they can or cannot read and, if they try to read or watch what they’re not supposed to, they might end up in jail.
Also part and parcel of this censorship mentality is that these children of the state need to be fed “correct” information and values.
Burma, one of the most repressive regimes in the world, survives on propaganda. It has just released Aung San Suu Kyi after 20 years of almost uninterrupted house arrest and has 2,000 political detainees.
New Light of Myanmar, the regime’s English-language mouthpiece, always makes sure people are fed with the “right” kind of views and values. Here are some of the so-called values published on Page 16 of the October 11 issue:
? We oppose unrest and violence;
? Wipe out those inciting unrest and violence;
? We favour peace and stability;
? VOA, BBC, sowing hatred among people;
? Do not be swayed by killers’ broadcasts designed to cause trouble.
All these headlines sound chillingly familiar. The Thai film board, the Internet Censorship Committee along with the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Decree, who jointly suspended many civil rights and censored so much information, should feel right at home in Burma.
When it comes to censorship and propaganda, Thailand has certainly adopted the Burmese way, and like it or not, we will certainly be getting more “parental care”.