Media, Communication, Digitalization
The European imagination of Thailand from the 1960s into the 1970s as suggested by the various European spy, caper, horror, and, eventually, soft- and hard-core porn films set in the Kingdom was unabashedly one of escapism, adventure, and thrills if not erotic frisson. While not all aspects of this characterization are unique to European film, European films of the era contributed significantly to a distinctive imagination of Thailand, a set of discourses and stereotypes that have over time gained a global currency.
In keeping with the 2019 conference theme of Asia in Europe, this paper will be interested in critically examining continental European representations of Thailand from the current millennium. It will make the case that while the newer cinematic representations of the country do in instances engage with the older discourses, at the same time there is a rising self-consciousness about such discourses and, in conjunction with this, about the exploitative posture taken with regard to both Thai representations and Thailand itself. In the broader view of the contemporary European films, one can see a clear (but by no means total) shift from the earlier emphasis on titillation to a new concern with highlighting real-world social issues. Among the newer crop of European representations of Thailand to be analyzed, as presentation time allows, are Simon (Netherlands, 2004), Vinyan (France-Belgium-UK-Australia, 2008), Once Upon a Time in Phuket (Sweden, 2011), Teddy Bear (Denmark, 2012), Only God Forgives (Denmark-France-US-Sweden, 2013), Fack ju Göthe 2 (Germany, 2015), and Pattaya (France, 2016).