Broadcasting standards organizations in Thailand are being lobbied by activists over their depiction of people eating non-rice-based products in soap operas. Considered one of the lowest strata in Thai society, soap opera writers have long been left to depict the darker sides of Thai nature on TV on the understanding that it keeps them off the streets. However now, when characters are routinely shown being forced to eat oat and potato products – eventually to learning to love them – Thai cultural watchdogs are voicing their concerns.
“Rice is the only acceptable staple for Thai people and the irresponsible depiction of oat-eating on these soaps is an affront to Thainess.” sobbed Aiyamathai Andhyuurnot, chairwoman of COCC-UP – the Committee for Cultural Cohesion – Under Prayuth. “It’s just not acceptable in modern Thailand,” she continued, “to perpetuate this myth that if you can just get a Thai to eat a single potato, they’ll never want to go back to rice.”
It seems the majority of ordinary sociopaths in the street agree with her. Recently a food vendor on a train out of Bangkok had to be rescued by transport police when a mob attacked him for trying to sell oatcakes. “This kind of thing shouldn’t be depicted on television because people will think it’s acceptable in real life.” said Rakkhao Makkmaak, head of the Rice Trafficking Board.
For some reason noodles do not feature in activists complaints, perhaps because they rarely if ever feature in soap opera plots. Dick Handcart, A well-know Thailand travel blogger and noodle-wrangler, told us “The idea that noodles, for example, are only made from rice is a nationalistic myth, promulgated to boost noodle sales in the 1950s. The real reason noodles don’t appear on TV is that they are impossible to eat without destroying 5hrs work in make-up applying facial whitewash.
Whatever the controversy, it seems the days force-feeding scenes on Thai soaps are numbered and the Thai Army’s newly formed elite Scripting Unit are set to take-over the writing task.