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A Government that Fears Television

TV Channel 3 has vowed to make its programming more suitable for viewers of all ages by adding more children's shows and reducing the number of soap operas. While you're at it, the government has said, katoey roles should only be given to katoey. Hopefully that will stop little boys from copying their behaviour.\n

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

11th March 2012 09:57

Alessia Valenza | ILGA Asia

Channel 3 says it won’t adopt this as policy, but it’s asked its series producers to try and cooperate.

The discussion that ensued online turned up several dismayed straight actors who’ve played katoey on TV in the past. Some understood the government’s concern, but others complained that it obstructs their ability to develop professionally.

Most of the people posting comments on Pantip opposed the restriction, although some parents shared the concern about children being adversely influenced.
They were advised to learn more about gender and sexuality, because no one can "copy" the behaviour of gays and katoey. (Evidently many people out there have indeed become more understanding.)

Surely government officials realise there are many gays and lesbians working for them, just as there are plenty of them everywhere for kids to meet – and to copy, if the adults really think that’s possible.

Surely the people in power don’t honestly believe that a katoey character on TV could alter a viewer’s sexual orientation. And yet their request that straight actors not portray gays or katoey indicates otherwise.

Obviously they don’t understand gender and sexuality. Or the performing arts. Or children.

Kids copy adults when they need to learn how to use chopsticks, but being gay is something else entirely. Just because you learned how to eat noodles with chopsticks doesn’t mean you love noodles.

Watching TV dramas is the easiest way to learn about human nature and the consequences of every action. But let’s not go any further – these shows can’t magically transform the viewer’s gender. None of my university drama students who’ve taken gay or katoey roles have "changed" as a result (and even the ones who were in the closet stayed in the closet).

So the government’s concern is illogical, even delusional, and worthy of being relegated to the age of dinosaurs, as someone on Pantip said.

Channel 3’s "compromise" might be the best response, allowing producers to use their own judgement. The older producers will act according to their education and understanding of the social situation. The younger ones will hopefully understand the situation better and be more courageous in criticising outdated ideas.
Thai society is changing bit by bit. I’m only waiting for the day when these people with a better understanding of gender and sexuality step into the leadership positions.