Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Laos Jumped the Shark

Laos urges suspension of a Thai soap opera

Laos has urged Thai television channel 7 to suspend airing a soap opera, the first episode of which will on air tonight, because the Vientiane government deemed the love story a threat to Lao culture.

Vientiane has conveyed their concerns to the television executives through the Thai Foreign Ministry last week that the soap opera "Pleng Rak Song Fang Kong" (Love Song on the Bank of Mekong) contained many scenes deemed inappropriate and contradicting to Lao culture, said Lao foreign ministry's spokesman Yong Chanthalangsy.

"Laos Ministry of Information and Culture has seen the sample of the series and considered it could damage Lao norm and traditional culture," Yong said in a phone interview.

At the centre of dispute is the role played by the LaoBulgarian actress Alexandra Bounxuay, the romance series is the love story between a Thai and Lao young couple. To the Lao authorities, Champa, the lead character played by Alexandra, was deemed a bastard child as her mother was married to no man.

"It's against Lao culture to have a child without marriage," said an official at the Lao Embassy in Bangkok.

"Well, Thais might be okay with it but not for Laos," he said.

Champa is a tourist guide who developed a romantic relation with a Thai boyfriend. The pace of their relation was quick to hold on to her catch.

"It's misleading that Lao woman is such an easy woman," he added.

I guess the thousands of Lao women working in Thai brothels contradicts that point.

Dialogue in the series is also a dialect of no Lao community as many Thai stars including Sukolwat Kanaros are unable to speak Lao properly and fluently, he said.

"So if you cannot speak Lao, you shouldn't pretend you can and speak such an ugly accent of the language," the official said.

This is funny, because many Lao can't speak Thai properly, or sound strange speaking central Thai.

Another scene considered a humiliation to Laos is when Champa threw a white frangipani flower—which is national flower of Laos—into a dustbin.

"You might get angry with your boyfriend who hand you the flower but the national flower should not be thrown away in that manner," he said.

"Why didn't the producer use rose or the other kind, rather than our national flower?" he asked.

Why would the Communist Party care about the national flower being thrown? That is just stupid
. What kind of low self-esteem must a people have to care about disrespecting the national flower? The Laotian Government should probably care more about its poverty levels more than Thailand dissing its Tulips.

Producer Thongchai Prasongsanti from Workpoint Entertainment and Ch7 executives agreed to halt the series after a long meeting with Lao officials at the Lao embassy on Monday and would work with Vientiane to adjust the soap opera.

Thai television has heavy influent over Lao audience as people on the other side of the Mekong River could access to Thai network and enjoy all series.

Clashes on cultures between the two neighbours who share a lot of similarity was always seen in the media. The recent one was last year as Laos angry over a Thai comic movie Makteh (soccer), which portrayed Lao national soccer team in a jokingly manner.

Supalak Ganjanakhundee

The Nation

The Communist Party of Laos is the final authority on Lao Culture? Isn't this the organization that has spent the last 30 years wiping out the remnants of Lao culture?

While its true that the Thais treat the Lao like crap and mock them every chance they get, the Lao should have at least have some dignity about it rather than throwing temper tantrums every time a Thai makes a movie or a TV show.

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