LiBeL Column

The Weakest Link

Columns from The Nation newspaper

Or are some commentators just being a tad hypocritical?

Business News

In a surprise move Shin Corp recently acquired it’s first textile company. The recently bankrupt Afghan Burkha Co Ltd was apparently bought as a strategic investment by Shin Corp’s ‘Acquisitions and Hostile Takeover’ wing. When asked by the local press what the f&%k a Burka was and how this company’s expertise could be utilized in a profit making scheme in Thailand, Shin Corp, speaking though their representative from Lumpini Police department, smirked knowingly but declined to comment.

It seems to be silly season for clampdowns, and social change is the order of the day at present. Pantip Plaza is devoid of pirate software. Bars are devoid of women. TV shows are devoid of airhead presenters. Hard to believe but in an odd “Yin and Yang” kind of vibe, whilst one evil namely single women, are being hearded up and removed from the streets another greater evil is rearing it’s ugly head – that of Western Culture.

I’m surprised at the furor over the Thai version of the weakest link gameshow. To all those who reckon it’s going to turn the youth of Thailand into uncaring, insensitive yobs only interested in one thing (Clue : It isn’t the preservation of traditional Thai culture – as if anything else mattered.), think back to your school days.

Teachers have been enjoying there own not quite so sophisticated version of ritual humiliation since time began. You’ve got to do something to liven up time in the classroom and if you can’t make teaching enjoyable for yourself then who can you make it enjoyable for. Certainly not the brats who expect ‘student centered learning every lesson. Me! Me ! Me ! is that all they think about. Not as though they have to make any effort. Come to school, “no books” say the experts, “no heavy bags” says Mr Thaksin, “no beatings with a well worn cane” say the legal experts, “no point ” says everyone in the teachers room.

Having students stand up in class till they get the correct answer to a question doesn’t come across as a sign of a caring, sharing personality trait. Having not got the answer on the first three attempts should be an indicator to the teacher that, perhaps ,the student isn’t trying to undermine their authority by answering incorrectly, and in actuality they don’t know the answer. Ditto, kneeling at the front of the class facing the board, doesn’t really smack of positive reinforcement techniques designed to bring the best out of pupils, does it?

The weakest link is just a TV adaptation of Darwin’s “The strong will survive” theory speeded up to fit in a 30 minute long TV show, with suitable breaks for commercials. “The Weakest Link brought to you by Valium – the depressant of choice for all losers.”

The gist of the main problem seems to be that this game show would be all fine and dandy if losers didn’t lose face. Why not just give them a “Hello Kitty” gift bag and applaud them for a jolly good all round effort instead. Just like we do on every other inane monkey show on TV.

Another factor that doesn’t really help matters is that whilst Anne Robinson, the presenter in the UK and USA is a real superior, intellectual bitch onscreen she doesn’t really have any trouser stirring abilities no matter how hard you fantasize. For anyone in the UK she’s the smarmy one who read the letters on points of View after Barry Took became persona non-grata at the BBC. For Americans she just a red headed snooty black-clad Brit.

Watching the Thai version, the same thoughts pop into the minds of viewers from all sectors of society. From evil farangs to members of the recently formed “Thai teens for eternal chastity, at least until Mr Right comes along” movement (Motto: “I’d rather be a rich man’s Mia Noi, than a poor man’s first love”) the desire to be treated roughly in the privacy of a padded dungeon by the stern K. Krittika rears it’s ugly head.

A couple of weeks ago a teacher was voted off the show burst into tears and begged her pupils not to think she was stupid. Good grief. She went on a game show that has the sole intention of making losers look like idiots and quite without chance, vice versa. Even if she was deceived into appearing, being faced with every S & M fetishists favourite “School Ma’am from Hell” and not a brain dead ‘luk thung’ teen idol cum TV presenter must have rang a few alarm bells. Surely, that was some indication that she wouldn’t be going home with a few hundred baht for charity and a lifetime’s supply of cat food, shampoo or whatever consumables the main sponsor produces.

That’s all, the little animated Wizard in Office XP has just fallen asleep, maybe he’s trying to tell me something. Awake now and staring at me in a Manson-esque manner. Maybe, that animated paperclip wasn’t so bad after all.

Next week . . .
The first Burkha TV ads (Artily shot nuclear winter landscape symbolizing the decay of society, cut to Taliban-esque females chatting about the values of truth, justice and the ultimate joy of being a small part in “The Master’s” grand scheme of things.) are pulled after viewers mistake them for the nonsensical commercials of AIS’s new mobile phone rival.