The Weakest Link makes Thais cry

Thailand Game Show Causes Uproar - April 8, 2002
The verbal blood sport of "The Weakest Link" may seem like harmless fun in most of the 70-odd countries it has taken by storm, but in Thailand it is causing uproar.... When the woman who didn't know Beckham's shirt number protested that it wasn't the sort of thing women would be familiar with, Kritika snapped back: "Ugh! Women love to make excuses." A self-proclaimed psychic who failed to answer a question was told: "It seems your powers are useless."
Notice the use of the word "alleged" - The premiere of Thailand's version of "The Weakest Link" TV show was deeply controversial because the show's trademark brutality and selfishness so much contravened the country's alleged sensitivity and generosity. (from Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird, April 29, 2002)

Weakest Link is Thailand's most popular show - March 16, 2002
A Guardian article on the Thai version of The Weakest Link has some interesting tidbits. Channel 3 says it is the highest-rated late night entertainment programme in the country, attracting almost 3m viewers. However, "...Channel 3 (could) lose its broadcasting licence if the show continues to show anything unbecoming and contradictory to Thai culture and morality," said Somsak Thepsuthi, the minister in charge of the prime minister's office.

More on The Weakest Link in Thailand - February 13, 2002
The Weakest Link responds: "We bought the licence from Britain. If we switched it around and made the entire show lighter and more humorous, we would be just as well off creating our own show instead of buying one," Suphon said. He added that it would take some time for the show's host to come up with more word variety, which could make the show a little lighter....
Humiliation certainly abounded. When one contestant could not say what the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was, she was voted out by the other contestants, one of whom reprimanded her for not knowing about an organisation that so seriously affected the life of all Thais.
(excerpted from "'Weak link' fights back ," The Nation, February 13, 2002 - most of this article seems to be taken from an AFP story that appeared online February 12, at 5:21pm)
Editorial from a local paper: ...Under such a democratic framework, citizens must be allowed to make their own decisions and pursue their own selfish interests as long as such an exercise stays within legal limits and does not infringe on other people's rights and freedom.
It is therefore questionable that anyone should blame a game show for promoting selfish values that could harm society or corrupt young minds. After all, all participants in the game show know exactly the rules of the game and they choose to play the game on their own free will.
Unless anyone hasn't noticed, Thai culture, which has been passed from generation to generation for hundreds of years, isn't as fragile as a few sore losers' egos.
(excerpted from "EDITORIAL : Weakest link or missing link?," The Nation, February 13, 2002)

The Weakest Link makes Thais cry - February 12, 2002
The Thai version of the popular British game show "The Weakest Link" has elicited a range of strong - often emotional - responses from viewers and even drawn expressions of concern from some of the nation's top leaders, who have warned that entertainment programmes may be nurturing selfish youth.
The show, "Kamchad Jud Orn", aroused instant controversy when host Krittika Kongsompong adopted the trademark meanness displayed by the host of the original show, taking delight in belittling losing contestants, who are voted off. In one case, a teacher who was voted off the show wept and begged her students not to think that she was stupid for losing....
At a meeting with the National Youth Bureau (NYB), Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said foreign attitudes deemed unsuitable to Thai society should be discouraged in television shows. According to Udom Kraiwatnusorn, PM's Office secretary, the prime minister said certain programmes too strongly influenced by Western values could prove destructive to Thai society, especially in their effect on young people.
(from Game show 'a danger to youth,' The Nation, Feb 12, 2002)

Looking back at the Thai version of the Weakest Link - New York Times, January 19, 2003
Interesting article on Kritika Kongsompong, former host of the Thai version of the Weakest Link: ...This is a difficult time for Thailand as its intricately woven culture of hierarchy and deference gives ground to the hard-knock roller derby of modern life.... Some Thais are searching now to define what they call a "post-Western" society, adapting rather than copying foreign ways. Some want to resurrect an idealized self-sufficient past, guided by Buddhist gentleness. There is also a streak of panicked xenophobia that led one official recently to call for a ban on teaching foreigners the Thai arts of massage and kickboxing. "My show goes against all that," Ms. Kritika said in an interview. "It doesn't support the loser. It confronts conflict. It doesn't harmonize friendship. That's real life where only the strongest survive, and some people don't like to listen to that." In her classroom, she paces like Madonna with a headset microphone, prodding and sometimes taunting her students, urging them to stand up for themselves, look people in the eye, compete.... Nevertheless when the year's contract was up, its producers breathed a sigh of relief and took the show off the air. It had been hard to watch, but it had made its point.... "The show was destined to end," said the critic, Kitti Gunpai, who teaches communications at Chulalongkorn University. "It just didn't fit in with Thai tastes. It's a destructive show that provokes anger and perpetuates disunity. It's a shameful program."
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