The meaning-making of Thai Boys’ Love cultural products from the perspectives of international media: A corpus-driven approach
Boys’ Love (BL) is a genre of cultural products which features erotic and romantic relationships between men. This study seeks to examine the meaning-making of Thai BL from the perspectives of international media. Methodologically, corpus-driven discourse analysis is adopted. The 57,336-word corpus consists of coverage from 28 media outlets across 10 countries. It is sourced from content published between 2015 and 2021. The investigation is conducted at the word (keyword analysis), sentence (N-gram analysis) and paragraph (qualitative analysis) levels. Overall, three emerging themes have been captured. First, the strong affection theme regards Thai BL as a lyrical world replete with love and romance, outperforming its Western equivalent because of sensitivity to a romantic ideal known as “love conquers all.” Second, the determinant of audience participation theme considers Thai BL a factor that encourages participation from fandoms. This is exemplified in the cultural phenomenon of fans learning the Thai language in order to comprehend a series without dependence on subtitles. Third, the connection with reality theme treats Thai BL as a reflection of various real-life situations, including LBGT issues in Southeast Asia. This “reality” is comprised of two domains: what is happening in real life and what is missing in real life.
This article aims to explore yaoi phenomenon in Thailand particularly during the 2010s at the height of the industry involvement with yaoi fandom. The article draws on Paul Booth’s (2015) study of fan/industry interaction to expand existing scholarship on yaoi phenomenon in Thailand which tends to focus on textual readings linking back to the Japanese cultural origin, ethnographic research, and the aspect of queer cultural politics. The study also draws attention to GMMTV Company Limited, a key player in expanding the yaoi industry in Thailand and growing the fandom of Thai yaoi stars in different countries in Asia. The article discusses the way GMMTV expands yaoi industry through connections with the local book industry as well as its own star and music making divisions. It pays close attention to fan/industry interactions rooted in the industry-led mimetic practices inspired by yaoi fan culture. These practices include the act of “shipping” (pairing yaoi couples) through what fans referred to as Official Promotional Videos (OPVs) and television shows. The article then discusses the way GMMTV employs fan nostalgia to create memory-driven activities. The highly commercialized industry-led fan meeting also offers an interesting site to explore fan/industry interactions where fan-led practices were reenacted by the industry yet consumed by fans themselves.