Elephant’s Leg


DIY abortions on Thai TV

I don’t subscribe to the idea that all censorship is bad. As much as I appreciate freedom of speech and expression in the media and arts, I do believe in sensible censorship of the most extreme opinions and/or images. For example, I think it’s quite right that distributing material which incites hatred is a crime in the UK, and that the USA’s Freedom of Speech law, which allows for the same to go unpunished, is a little lax.

But if censorship is to be enforced, it has to be done with common sense, and it must also treat the public with a modicum of respect for its intelligence. Consequently, I think sweeping bans on certain major websites (such as in China), or on publicly expressing certain opinions about a very important part of Thai life and culture (which, for obvious reasons, I can’t discuss here), do more harm than good.

But before I get into any deeper political comment, it was actually a daft juxtaposition in a schlocky Thai horror movie that got me thinking about censorship. It was Long Kong 2, or Art of the Devil 2 in English, which was shown on the cable channel True Film Asia. I only watched a segment of the movie, which was evidently about black magic. What I saw – unedited – was a pregnant woman strapped down on a bed and subjected to the electrocution of her genitals with a cattle prod, followed by a forced abortion by repeatedly thumping her in the torso. The foetus was then crudely yanked out of her, slopped into a bowl and then dumped outside. Nice.

Now, I’m not easily shocked. I’ve seen plenty of gory movies. The scene, while obviously disgusting, didn’t really bother me. But what did get a reaction from me – that of incredulous laughter – was the follow-up scene of one of the bad guys relaxing after the crude abortion ritual by smoking a cigarette – and it was this that got censored! A mosaic blurred out the offending object – the cigarette – whenever the guy lifted it to his mouth (although it was fine to show it being carried in his hand – only actual cig-to-mouth contact was deemed offensive).

Electrocution of vaginas and bloody foetuses in a bowl? Not a problem! But god forbid any impressionable people see the despicable act of smoking a cigarette on TV at 11pm on a Friday night.

It’s not unusual to see mosaicing in Thai movies on TV. It is also used to cover up guns (similarly, it’s fine to see a gaping head wound, so long as you don’t show the weapon that caused it!). But what is curious is that the same censorship is not applied to foreign movies. So Hollywood’s finest are free to tote guns and smoke cigs on Thai screens, but local stars are not.

I’d love to hear the rationale – are Thai people more susceptible to influence when seeing one of their own smoking than they would be when watching a farang? If so, then don’t the powers that be consider that occult practices and home abortions might be slightly more dangerous than smoking? Certainly if I had a child or teenager, I know which images I’d be more worried about them seeing.

Then again, this is a country where prostitution is tolerated – promoted, even, in some places – yet pornography is banned, so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. Just don’t mention the ********.

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[…] word, and tagged the word, here, but I did it ONCE! That sole mention and tag occurred in the post “Violent, forced abortions: Good. Smoking: Bad”, about an absurd example of Thai censorship. My mention of a vagina was entirely in context, and I […]

Pingback by THE VALUE OF VAGINAS | Elephant's Leg

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