They've called the show “inappropriate” for Thai society.
New political party Ponlamuang Thai caused social media shockwaves when they announced via Facebook that they had complained to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) about hit Netflix series Sex Education. Their complaint: that the show’s content is "inappropriate” for Thai society, and that it skirts local censorship laws by being distributed through the Netflix streaming platform. We met up with several party members—Dhanachart Sangpradub, Somkiat Wattanasirichaiyakul, Wanida Jamjang, Thichakorn Wisansakhon and Thaweepong Sittitunyakit and Jittima Mandee—to hear their stance.
What do you find controversial about the series?
Thichakorn: Smoking weed, uncensored sex scenes, abusive behavior, homophobia and bad swear words. Usually, this should have warnings shown on screen.
Dhanachart: When movies from a foreign company screen in Thailand, they can’t be checked [for inappropriate content] by the Ministry of Culture. Netflix can just put out its content without having anything censored. If this carries on, it will create unfairness between foreign production companies and Thai companies. Costs for foreign companies will go down while costs for local companies will increase. They will go out of business and we will be left with foreign content with no controls. This is the bigger problem.
The Thai banner advert for Netflix's new series, Sex Education
Have you watched the entire series?
Thichakorn: Yes. The series sends out both good and bad messages. Some scenes are just too much for the 16+ rating, but there are also some parts that teach good stuff as well.
Why do you think the show is OK for Western culture but would “challenge” Thai culture?
Dhanachart: The society is not ready for this. Family culture here is not like in the West, where parents would watch movies with their children and be there to teach them. Our society has poverty and teenagers who don’t get to spend much time with their parents. If kids watched this show with their parents it would be fine, but most of the time parents don’t do that with their children, so we need to reduce inciting kids to watch such things.
Do you think sex education in Thai schools needs improving?
Dhanachart: There should be different plans to target this problem. The first thing we can do is stop inciting children to watch this kind of content. Then we work on the education system.
Somkiat: If children aren’t raised properly they won’t become quality adults, and without quality adults to drive the country forward we will be stuck in the middle-income trap.
Let’s say, if the kids are not watching the show with their parents, do you think it has any educational messages that Thai teens could benefit from?
Dhanachart: It’s the incitement that would lure them into negative problems.
Wanida: There are scenes of characters smoking weed in the show: do you think Thai kids would benefit from a scene of smoking weed then?
Dhanachart: There are too many sex scenes in the show. For example, the mother in the series is a sex therapist but she changes her sleeping partner like every night. When teenagers watch that they would want to copy it without thinking it through like adults. They would think this kind of action is appropriate and that would cause pregnancy and other problems for the society.
There are a lot of Thai TV soaps with inappropriate contents—rape, unfaithful relationships, fighting over a man. Do you think this is OK?
Dhanachart: There are no fully naked sex scenes in Thai movies. Anything that has been through the Ministry of Culture for censorship already wouldn’t have such a scene.
Thichakorn: Thai movies would also have a warning message that this is an inappropriate act that you shouldn’t follow.
Soi Cowboy, Patpong or even Sukhumvit Soi 11—those places are even more inappropriate for our society.
Dhanachart: It’s an incitement as well but it targets a different group of people and adults.
Somkiat: It’s so easy to access this sort of thing these days. You can just watch it from your phone anytime and anywhere, right from your bed.
According to a report from the World Health Organization published last year, Thai women aged under 20 have the second highest rate of pregnancy in the world.
Wanida: These are kids who got the wrong information from sources like porn. We are not trying to ban the series, just to take the banners down.
Dhanachart: The problem in Thai society is inequality. It creates an unfair society. If you look at the statistics, the kids who get pregnant under 20 are from poor families. The parents don’t have time to look after their children because they have to work. It creates loneliness in teenagers. Incitement makes people do things spontaneously without thinking. Teenagers still don’t know how to think for themselves. If we took down the banners, it would reduce the risk for the kids.
Do you think your stance on this issue has lost you the millennial vote?
Dhanachart: It’s fine. We have to know where we stand. We are doing this because we know it benefits society. We do this because we see that it would harm our children and the local movie industry in the future. Political parties are formed to try and improve society. Even if we don’t get votes from the younger generation, I’m sure there are parents who care about this.
Somkiat: This kind of content can increase sex crime. Sex crime happens daily because people see it so easily.
Thaweepong: The movie name seems to represent the education, but the first scene is already illegal because that’s considered porn. Even in [the Japanese cartoon] Doraemon, they blurred the breasts of the female character.