Thailand's Daily News newspaper has reported the alarming news of the latest move by the Thai TV censor to improve the country's notorious soap operas.
Thais and even some foreigners who have been here long enough know how many of these
popular TV melodramas are committed to over-dramatisation and stereotyping of characters.
Jealousy, class discrimination, chauvinism, exaltation of wealth and power, violence, typecasting and reinforcement of prejudices against people like
housemaids, ethnic minorities and transvestites prevail in these television series. In recurring soap storylines, protagonists often can't seem to do anything wrong even when they commit some wrongs.
Daily News quoted Supinya Klangnarong, a member
of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), as saying guidelines will be issued to TV and radio producers addressing the negative aspects of Thai soaps in the hope that the industry can regulate itself. While such a code of
ethics will be non-binding, a warning will have been given and the future granting or renewal of permits by the NBTC to produce TV and radio content will be conditional on a review of soap-opera content, she said.
Supinya, who chairs the committee
for the promotion of self-regulation, was quoted as saying that she is aware that Thai soap operas are like sweets.
The more you eat the more delicious they become. But if you eat them everyday you will become fat. So
[the challenge] is how to imbue Thai soaps with morality that will cultivate the hearts of viewers.
This writer can't help but wonder if Thailand will really become a good society if all TV stations air moralistic soap operas,
along with religious programmes and mini-dramas extolling the virtues of the monarchy. Perhaps it depends on how you define a good society. I am concerned, however, that people will become increasingly unable to shoulder responsibility and apply
common sense by themselves - and this can't be good.