Stereotypes in Thai Media

Stereotypes in Thai Media

March 21, 2020 0 By Thananan-aom

Have you ever seen a dark skin woman and think “oh.. she must be from ______” or having a thought “Should Women do this?” or “Should Gay people do that?”. This is the moment that you are stereotyping people without yourself even noticing that. You think for others that they should or should not do something because it’s not what you have seen from the ‘Media’. Media influences our lives in so many ways including our stereotypes. Many stereotypes that we have on something really come from the influences of the media and it shapes and leads our aspect and how we see things in our society. Due to the sensitivity of some stereotyping issues in Thai society, Thai media need to focus more on how their content has an effect on people including the Thai TV program which is the most popular media in society and. This blog will represent how the Thai media based the stereotype of beauty standard, gender, race and classes on people.

 BEAUTY STANDARD

In Thai media, It is normal for the media to portray contents that people in society are interested in and give their attention. They present mostly actors and actresses who follow the beauty standard for satisfying the audience’s eyes. Fair skin, skinny body, and prominent nose are the criteria for women meeting the expectation of Thai society. Moreover, a lean muscular and pretty face is also the typical standard in men. Those people with these good-looking appearances seem to receive mass opportunity and popularity on Media channels, due to the fact that people are attracted to their looks. For example, Thai soap opera television series frequently cast the main actor or actress who matches the beauty standard. The comedian cast in the series, in contrast, would be given to the actors possessing humor and uniqueness, even if it comes from their non-pretty faces and non-attractive appearances.  

From the fact that media adorably provide beauty standard in a massive amount, Influences may occur from this presentation. Audiences would compare themselves to the Image of beauty in the media, leading to the problem of self-dissatisfaction and low self-esteem. It is shown that natural beauty has been adapted from the desire of people to change their look through surgery. Women agree to the surgery for changing their beauty appears regardless of the pain. This ‘fake’ beauty is designed to receive the benefits of being in beauty standards such as acceptance from society. In this way, it can be interpreted that people who are not in the standards can be bullied by others. Body shaming is one of the issues that has risen from media characterization. Mew Laknara was interviewed by Thairath that she had the difficulty of seeking her job in the entertainment media. Mew’s opportunity was faded because of her gaining weight. People in the entertainment world and media audiences criticized her body as an unacceptable condition on television channels.

‘Mew Laknara’

Furthermore, the beauty influence on society can be seen in Thai movie , ‘a little thing called love’. Beauty standard of fair skin and skinny body was depicted via the scene of the leading actress changing her appearance. She was influenced by her friends to transform her tanned skin color and short hairstyle to fair skin and long hair. In consequence, the school pronounced her as the drum major and she received a lot of attention from other students because of her beauty. To clarify, the audience from this film would believe in the empowerment of this beauty standard and not respect their own natural beauty. More of presenting the diversity of beauty in Thailand should be adopted to help the false belief of over consuming the beauty acceptance from the media.

The scene in ‘ A little thing called love’  
depicted beauty standard in Thailand

GENDER ROLES

          Thailand is located in Southeast Asia, one of the oldest countries, rich in history and old cultures that have been supported for a long time until new globalization. With religion and the senility system as a dependency and an anchor for the young people to believe and listen to the elderly in the principles of life and old teachings.

In the past, Thai families had many members and had close relationships, which is most of the men in the community known as home leaders and stronger, but women were known as a housekeeper, child care,and weaker. Although today’s Western culture has begun to intervene and influence to help Thai women to have more freedom in exercising human rights, working outside the home and receiving more educational opportunities. There are more power and influence in politics and economics or have important roles in society. But, ancient cultures and Thai society still have the idea that men have more impact and energy and have advantages over women and it is well known and widely accepted that men must be as the person who inherits the surname.This shows the image of a man as the hope of a family that requires the name and reputation of the family.

    In Thai media, there is many contents about gender roles such as Drama in TV channels that represent the plot by over-praising a man to be a strong leader of the family and always protects. For instance, Love destiny is a romantic comedy historical drama. The story is about how Karaket, an archaeologist student, gets into a fatal accident which leads her to time travel back to the 15th century in the body of a noblewoman that looks exactly like her. During her time there she falls in love with a nobleman from a high family. She is taught how to be a proper “lady” and how to properly take care of her husband. Before they can marry, Karaket must receive the approval and blessing of her lover’s parents by showing that she is an ideal housewife, is conservative, can cook what her husband likes, can clean around the house and can walk, talk, and speak like a proper lady of the 15th century. This particular series displays how most of Thai TV broadcasting views women. Under the comedy and the fantasy aspect is the series, there still lies the stereotype of women. Despite the women empowering movements occurring all around the world, Thai media producers still choose to involve such stereotypes in their work.

TV drama ‘Love Destiny’

   As well as men in the same drama, Khun Si Satchawaja or Por Det, the youngest son of the  Horathibadi and also was a nobleman during the reign of King Narai the Great. He is an ambassador who travels with the diplomatic corps of Kos Pan. He is the fiancee of the female mother Karaket. In the beginning, He hates Kaket, but after Por Det observed the female Kaket female who changed from being a woman who was not polite and aggressive. She became a housewife, creating a garland, good at cooking, and more sweet habits. These stories illustrate the stereotype in the Thai media that Thai men tend to have the right to choose their spouses to look after themselves as a family and to show that women must be neat, say little, sweet, do good housework while men go out to work for making money outside of their homes and coming back to their families at home, according to the hope of society.

RACES

People are being separated due to the border of settlement beginning the segregation of races, skin colors, languages, religion, and culture. Every race has been portrayed differently based on how the majority view the standard of each country. As we can see, the media is made in the same aspect as well, portraying different views toward things since the media are the main tool which can represent the society’s reflection. 

Speaking of Korea, the country became more well-known from the success of its entertainment industry such as Korea series and Kpop music. Korean entertainment industry gains lots of fans and reaching overseas countries leads to attention from people around the world. This popularity affects the overall Korean people’s image as Kpop idols who can dance and sing. For example, In Thai media, a soap opera called “The Sixth Sense 2”, a Korean idol character played by Rattapoom Toekongsap who cannot speak Thai, is overdressed, and always puts a full make-up on. People are likely to recognize Korean as Kpop idols or celebrities. The question is why do we have to set a famous celebrity as Korean? While the actual person cannot speak Korean at all and it is not like Korea is the only country that can have a superstar. And, do Korean idols have to wear full makeup and dress like they are going to attend an event or concert all the time? 

Rattapoom Toekongsap played as Korean Character in ‘The Sixth Sense 2’

Not only the image of the country but also the skin color of people affect people’s thoughts. The media tend to pick white people to be on the screen like reporters, actors, singers, etc. One of Thai film stars named Celine Horwang presents the product SNOWZ Glutathione plus Kiwi Seed Extract, dietary supplements, claim to help to have white skin. The advertisement’s golden quote is “Just being white, you will win”, this shows that people in Thailand see people with black skin as lower and inferior, representing people who do not take care of themselves. On the other hand, having white skin is better and has an advantage over black skin or tan skin.

‘Snowz Glutathione plus Kiwi Seed Extract’

Many of these stereotype ideas not only what just mentioned above but lots more still continue in the media causing discrimination and bullying. However, it is not easy to change people’s minds and even harder to deal with majorities. The only way to stop these stereotypes is we all citizens to help each other encourage people around us to see the world as it really is not the way society wants to see. 

  CLASSES / RICH GAP

Thai media mostly emphasize on poor and rich families or some of the middle class. The media are highlighting the gap between rich and poor or only showing the rich people aspect but not very common for creating media only lower class. Since audiences like to consume rich people due to their social needs and it creates a class stereotype. Rich families were stereotyped as those elite groups among their own society and being entrepreneurs of big business or company. They will have more money power to buy or do anything. The image of it is mostly defined as having a good job, good quality of life, lots of labor work under their control. Yet it can be said that rich families are more powerful than the poor and middle class, mostly scared of. The character of it comes along with the luxury component such as having enormous houses with elegant furniture, the symbol of being a rich family, a long dining table, a large bedroom, and gold furniture. Normally, rich families in Thai media can be said that they are most likely to be the villain that always has a conflict with the main actress which has a lower financial status.

From https://tv.mthai.com/digital-tv/88716.html “stupid cupid” or น้ำตากามเทพ

Poor and middle class are mostly those who have financial problems, debt or loans, and may have conflict within their own family. Specifically for the very poor one, Thai media usually stereotype them as a good person that always bullies the lower class, uneducated, and bad living conditions. To be more specific, the very poor one will be more in the bad group of people too, doing drugs and gamble is the cause of all problems. The problem of these poor classes will usually be paying debt and escaping from illegal creditors that always come to take their life away. This is very popular in Thai drama plots which have been remade over and over.

We cannot deny the fact that Thai Lakorn has some stereotypes with both rich and poor. To illustrate above, You’re My Destiny (เธอคือพรหมลิขิต), as the picture above, which is one of the stereotype Thai series. The leading actor is highly educated and well-known in society due to his social status and his rich family as they are a millionaire. Thai media always shows that this rich family has, obviously like, money enormously by using it without hesitation, mostly in stupid things and nonsense. For instance, the series manifests in the sense that the main actor offers an amount of money to the lower class, the woman, to get away from his life. Of course, the lower status needed money to survive but a kind person would deny the offer. This scene can imply that the richer the more power you get and use the money to solve any solutions. This is a common plot among Thai media.

However, in reality, there are several types of classes of people but the media only depict one that specifies those classes. It is the lack of diversity that creates a stereotype among real society. As rich people are not always bad; they may be a good person having an ordinary life without seeking any power. These people are more clever and very somehow, differently from what the media depict them to be like which may influence the audience thought and view these rich people the same way as the media depicted. 

As all of the listed issues above are the stereotype that Thai media has been influencing us, we did not even notice how many groups of people we have judged using our experience on media as a comparison. Judging people by their beauty, gender, race, classes and deciding what kind of people they should be, does not support how the society works at all. The diversity of people shows us that every person has their own background and their own personalities, not blocks of personalities that you see on TV programs. This awareness should be raised more in our society in order to improve the content’s quality that can represent all types of people. Don’t let this issue be overlooked! If you want to make a change for our society, you can start from yourself. Doing our survey is another way to be a spoken person and analyze yourself. 

“When I look at a person, I see a person – not a rank, not a class, not a title.”

Criss Jami, Killosophy
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YZVvQSCQ

Citation :

ปรมะธนวัตน์ ชริตา. Journal of Communication and Management NIDA, 2016.

“‘ฟิล์ม’ เปิดฉากละคร ‘ซิกซ์เซ้นส์ 2’ อลังการพร้อมนางเอกใหม่: Daradaily.” Www.daradaily.com, www.daradaily.com/news/36008/read.

Suthassanachinda, S. [เรื่องเล่าเช้านี้ บีอีซี-เทโร]. (2016, Jan 9). เรื่องเล่าเสาร์-อาทิตย์ CNN ตีข่าวโฆษณาเหยียดผิวไทย หลังโลกออนไลน์วิจารณ์หนัก (9 มค. 59) [Video file]. Retrieved from URL https://youtu.be/EXV9aUyIWC0