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It is now 2024 but have you ever seen any Thai movies or advertisements that have blind people as protagonists?

In the contemporary landscape of Thai cinema and advertising, the portrayal of visually impaired individuals as protagonists remains notably scarce and not diverse(at all). This lack of representation stands in contrast to the diversity showcased in international media, particularly in regions such as the United States, Japan, and Korea.

People with disabilities are often underrepresented or portrayed stereotypically in Thai media. They may be depicted as objects of pity or inspiration rather than as individuals with diverse experiences, talents, and capabilities. Thai media frequently lacks diverse storylines that feature characters with disabilities in lead roles. When disability is included, it tends to be portrayed with a limited focus on the challenges rather than the strengths and achievements of individuals with disabilities.

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It is normal that we see blind people or people with any disability and feel pity for them because Thai media have been shaping the public’s opinion toward disability with repeated exposure to this kind of media content. 

Sometimes, Thai media create negative stereotypes and stigma when it comes to disabilities by portraying individuals with disabilities as dependent, helpless, or burdensome. 

Is it not good to feel pity for someone with a disability?

Pity can sometimes be well-intentioned but it can be extremely disempowerment to disability. It’s important to approach this question with empathy and respect. Instead, we should see disability with understanding, support, and a commitment to promoting accessibility and seeing the importance of recognizing the diverse abilities and experiences within the disabled community to engage in empowering conversation. 

Do you know any foreign movies with blind protagonists?

Portraying blind characters in film and media with depth and diversity is crucial for promoting inclusivity and misunderstood stereotypes. Instead of the typical portrayal of blind individuals as helpless or pitiful, recent trends in cinema showcase them as intelligent and cool protagonists. These representations break away from the normal portrayed and highlight blind characters as capable and resourceful individuals who navigate the world on their own terms. Whether through their smart, charisma, or problem-solving skills, these characters challenge societal misconceptions and demonstrate the vast potential of blind individuals. By presenting blind characters in varied roles, filmmakers not only foster empathy and understanding but also offer much-needed representation for the blind community. These characters serve as inspiring role models, encouraging audiences to look beyond disability and appreciate the complexity of every person. Lastly, portraying blind characters with empowerment, intelligence, and coolness enriches storytelling and contributes to a more inclusive and empathetic society, showcasing the power of representation in reshaping perceptions and celebrating diversity.

These are some international films around the world that have creative blind protagonists!

Daredevil

Daredevil directed by Mark Steven Johnson, features Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer turned vigilante using heightened senses to fight crime. The film challenges misconceptions about blind individuals, portraying Murdock as skilled, strategic, and compassionate, highlighting resilience and intelligence. It emphasizes adaptive techniques and technology, showcasing blind individuals’ capabilities. Overall, “Daredevil” empowers blind people by challenging stereotypes, showcasing diversity, and encouraging viewers to see beyond disability.

The Book of Eli

“The Book of Eli” (2010) is a post-apocalyptic film directed by the Hughes Brothers. It follows Eli, a blind wanderer, who possesses a sacred book and embarks on a journey to protect it and deliver it to a safe location.The film empowers blind people by showcasing Eli’s remarkable abilities and durable despite his blindness. Despite his lack of sight, Eli navigates the dangerous world with confidence and skill, using his other senses to their fullest extent. His heightened awareness, honed survival instincts, and mastery of combat techniques challenge stereotypes about blindness and highlight the potential of blind individuals.

Rurouni Kenshin 

Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends (2014), directed by Keishi Ōtomo, Usui Sojiro is a blind swordsman and formidable antagonist. Despite his blindness, he faces Kenshin Himura with his skills and cunning, adding depth to the narrative and empowering blind people by representing  their potential regardless of disability.

Imagine Thai movie with blind protagonists!

How about considering the portrayal of disabilities in Thai media? Have you ever come across a Thai film or series where the main character is blind? Take, for instance, the well-known Thai drama “Nakee,” a 2016 romance and fantasy drama revolving around Kumkaew, a girl with a mysterious background and hidden superhuman abilities. Tossapol, an archaeology student, becomes deeply enamored with the Nakee goddess and forsakes everything to be with her. However, their love story encounters numerous challenges when the villagers witness Nakee’s extraordinary powers. “Nakee” gained significant popularity in 2016 for its exploration of spiritual themes and Thai cultural beliefs, particularly empowering the revered queen of nagas.

Now, imagine if the protagonist of “Nakee” were a blind queen. Would such a storyline still captivate audiences and satisfy their expectations? Looking back to 2011, Thailand produced the action film “Bangkok Assassins” (“Bangkok Kung Fu”), featuring protagonists representing various disabilities: deafness, blindness, muteness, and Congenital Hypothyroidism. The movie follows the journey of four kids who escape from a mafia that exploited them as beggars. They encounter a skilled kung fu master who adopts and trains them, leading them to become the formidable “magnificent five” kung fu fighters determined to seek vengeance against the mafia that ruined their lives.

Despite receiving mixed reviews from Thai audiences, “Bangkok Assassins” garnered praise from international critics. It stands out as one of the few Thai films in 2011 to feature protagonists with disabilities. This indicates that Thai cinema is capable of portraying blind protagonists effectively, yet producers often shy away from such narratives due to commercial considerations. However, it’s worth considering the potential impact and audience reception of narratives featuring characters with disabilities. By embracing diverse stories, Thai media can contribute to a more inclusive and representative cultural landscape.

Even this kind of film gets praise from international critics but why don’t we see this kind of film in Thailand?

Wondering that why movies that encourage Thai media diversity don’t really being produced anymore?

Well, it is all about capitalism!

  1. Even the content of the film is worthy for society , however it is hard to sell as in the commercial perspective. As the characteristics of the film industry are influenced by trends and fashion. The film may be acclaimed and loved by audiences but it may not necessarily have mass appeal. Sometimes, a great film may not align with the current trend or audience preferences, making it a tough sell. This can limit its commercial potential as distributors and exhibitors are often more interested in films with broader audience appeal. Therefore , studios and distributors often prioritize projects that they perceive as having a higher likelihood of commercial success. This risk aversion can lead them to overlook or undervalue innovative or unconventional films, even if they have strong content.
  1. The competition of the film industry is highly competitive not only influencing the filmmaker to make attractive films for audiences but also influencing them to fight with the dominance of blockbuster movies which are targeted to the masses. Even there are numerous films vying for attention at any given time. A good content film may get overshadowed by big-budget blockbusters or heavily marketed films, making it harder to stand out.

But how blockbuster movies can overshadow and discourage other film productions?

A film from Blockbuster produced by major studios. These films often come with enormous budgets, extensive marketing campaigns, and big-name directors, attracting massive audiences and generating substantial revenue. This enormous budget of blockbusters likely leads to a successful marketing campaign to promote the movie because if a film doesn’t have the financial backing for extensive marketing efforts, it may struggle to gain visibility among audiences and compete with bigger budget productions. Moreover, blockbuster films usually come with well-known actors or directors who can attract audiences through their reputation itself. This star power often plays a significant role in drawing viewers to theaters.

Therefore, When a content film and a mass-market blockbuster are released at the same time, the content film faces significant challenges in competing for audience attention and theater advertising. Blockbusters often receive preferential treatment at theaters due to their popularity, massive marketing, and star power, making it difficult for content films to attract people and achieve recognition.

Is it time for a change in media diversity?

The current underrepresentation of disabled people in communities in Thai media reinforces stereotypes and social stigmas that lead to the marginalization of people with disabilities. 

Check out BJM, Thammasat exhibition about blind disability and media diversity! Using Labubu art toy as blind representative in popculture

More media diversity exhibion display. Don’t Miss Out Next Year!

It is important for Thai media to recognize the importance of diversity and inclusion to reflect societal progress, inclusivity, and diversity because media content such as movies, music, advertisements, etc. can play a crucial role in encouraging more understanding, empathy, and acceptance of individuals with disabilities by increasing representation to promote authentic portrayals and ensure accessibility for all groups in society. 

Embracing diversity in media content is not only about storytelling but also promotes social cohesion, empowerment, and equality for all members of society.

Let us know what do you think about Thai media VS International media diversity about blind people!

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