“Sawan Bieng”, the Thai TV Series that Deserves Condemnation?
I blogged about the controversial Thai TV series “Sawan Bieng” (translation: Heaven Takes Sides) yesterday, and it spawned some disagreements on my usage of the word “perfect” to describe the series. Particularly, tewson and idiotao expressed that, given the violent nature of the story (~50% is rape), the series is far from perfect. They felt that the rape scenes were overemphasized. They also expressed their concern for kids regarding the inappropriate content. Even though the series was labeled “for 18+”, it was aired at 20.3 – 22.30, which was prime time, so a whole lot of kids must have been watching it. I thank you for your comments, because as Dr. Pausch put it, “When you’re screwing up, and nobody’s saying anything to you anymore, that means they gave up.” I appreciate your comments, and I respect your thoughts on the issue. I also feel sorry for the innocent kids who might happen to turn on the tv at the that time to witness such violent scenes prematurely. However, I do not feel it is right to put the blame on “Sawan Bieng”.
“Sawan Bieng” may be the first Thai series to display rape scenes to this extent, but it is definitely not the first time for Thai tv to broadcast such scenes. In fact, I, as a child, have growned up accustomed to seeing those scenes on Thai tv — in Chinese movies, Channel 7 news, Hong Kong movies, Hollywood movies — even though I didn’t understand what it meant then. In Chinese movies, the female protagonist always saved the male protagonist’s life by getting naked and transferring to him the “Chi power”. The female protagonist also almost always bore a red dot (the mark of virginity) on her upper arm, which somehow mysteriously disappeared after she had completed the “Chi power” transfer. Channel 7 news report deaths and rapes in a very open fashion, often showing the victim’s bodies in all their bloody gore, with only a not-so-helpful mosaic to cover up the private parts. Are you saying “Sawan Bieng”‘s rape scenes, of which the clothes never came off, more violent than this?
You may think that it is more violent than Channel 7 news, because after all, “Sawan Bieng” is drama. It ought to have more effect on kids than the simple inanimate photos, bloody though it may be, which show up on the news for only a few seconds. Fine. But isn’t drama a projection of reality? Some dramas may overexaggerate reality, but I can tell you that “Sawan Bieng” is as raw as a drama can be. I’m not talking about the heavenly manor that was used as the setting; I’m talking about the emotional turbulence that each character goes through. Even though I have never experienced them myself in all aspects, and I don’t want to, but I can tell you that those emotions are real. Somewhere out there, there are people who are actually experiencing the very same thing. It is strange that most people choose to value over-the-rainbow, prince-princess-love-story drama, over down-to-earth portrayals of reality.
Kids will eventually have to learn what’s real and what’s not, and the prince-princess-love-story will not help them to learn that the least bit. Even worse, those day-dream drama is going to give them false expectations, which they will only later come to know through trials and errors that those expectations cannot be met in the real world. I may be wrong, but I think we should accept reality, both the good and the bad, and stop indulging ourselves in fantasy. Accepting a series like “Sawan Bieng” is a good start.