Tourism ad faces ban for allegedly defaming Thai literature

More than sixty thousand Thais have signed a petition opposing the Culture Ministry's attempt to ban a tourist ad that contains characters from the Ramayana, part of the national literary heritage. 
 
On 22 September 2016, Jatuporn Rattanawaraha, a Thai national artist in the dramatic arts -- khon -- category, said that the music video titled “Thais tour in Thailand: Let’s have fun!” was inappropriate and would destroy Thailand’s national culture, reported Bangkok Business.
 
The music video is a tourism ad produced by the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Actors and actresses dress in khon costumes from the traditional Thai Ramakien, or Ramayana, a national heritage work. The singer in the MV is Thachaya Prathumwan, the winner of 14 gold medals at the 20th World Championship of Performing Arts hosted this year in Los Angeles. The MV was released on 11 September and has been widely praised and shared on social media. 
 
In the MV, Thachaya dresses as Thotsakan, one of the main characters in the Ramakien. Thotsakan and his underlings travel to different popular tourist attractions in Thailand and take part in various activities including riding horses, driving go-karts and cooking khanom krok, a famous Thai dessert. The MV mainly encourages Thai people to travel in Thailand, rather than going abroad. 
 
 
“Thais tour in Thailand: Let’s have fun!” MV
 
The national artist, however, condemned the MV for ruining Thai culture, saying khon performers must strictly follow so-called traditional practice and should not perform such inappropriate activities.          
 
“Khon must be performed in appropriate places such as the National Theatre and the Royal Palace,” said Jatuporn. “If you want to promote tourism, you should be concerned about national culture”
 
 
Thotsakan and his underlings driving Go Karts is one of the controversial scene.
 
According to Bangkok Business, Ladda Tangsuphachai, a former director of the Culture Surveillance Bureau, has already filed a petition with the Minister of Culture, Vira Rojpojchanarat, urging the Ministry to ban the MV from the internet or remove some of its ‘sensitive content’. The Ministry will make a final decision on the issue by 27 September.    
 
In a related development, a campaign was launched on  Change.org to collect signatures from those who oppose the Ministry’s attempt to ban the controversial ad. The campaign’s title is “Thai people oppose Ladda Tangsuphachai on the issue of ‘Thais tour in Thailand: Let’s have fun!’ MV.” The campaign was launched on 21 September and had gathered more than 65,000 signatures at press time
 
 
The campaign on Change.org
 

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