Monday, June 29, 2009

The Thai Propoganda Machine- extolling the King

I had been to Thailand twice already, and on the plane there I remember feeling somewhat remorseful.
“Why am I going back here, instead of somewhere new?”
Then I start walking around Bangkok and I remember why I came. The city is vibrant, alive, interesting, with the ability to grant almost any wish desired.
Want a cheap tasty dinner of Thai food. Bam. Tailor made clothing. Bam. Too see the latest Hollywood hit in a state of the art theater. Super expensive status labels or cheap knock-off clothes on the street, available as well.
Great dance clubs/bars YES. Girls, food, adventure, seriously, Bangkok has it.

Running into Propaganda
At the Siam Paragon, which is frankly a mall that even I appreciated, (you could fricking live there- great food court, gym, yoga, movie theater, a bunch of shops you women would love that I didn’t dare venture into …) I hadn’t seen a movie in over a month, and like everything else at the Paragon, it’s state of the art.
Thailand's King
However, a warning: Thai theaters have the longest pre-show ever. Sure you have the required previews, but what they devote even more time to is the Thai propaganda machine (like two minutes)- extolling the Thai King.
People stand the entire time, their hands over their hearts, as images of the King flash while people perform acts of kindness and friendship.
No wonder the King is so beloved by his countrymen; look at the unconscious association that is being drilled home over and over again.
I too stood, but was chuckling to myself when I sat back in my seat. I can’t help but imagine what type of propaganda might exist in a North Korean movie theater (if they had any) with their 4’ 11” “Dear Leader” depicted standing nose to nose with Yao Ming, rays of light emanating from his heart as he kindly pats an orphan on the head. One thing for sure, I guarantee you everyone stands in the North Korean theater. If you don’t they probably throw you in the gulag.

(Note: saying anything even slightly against the monarchy can land you in jail in Thailand. The culture takes his highness very seriously, and one day of the week is reserved for honoring the king by wearing the color yellow. Please note: I do love the Thai King! Okay, no handcuffs please.)

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