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.
In Thailand, the concept of the village has been used to imagine the Thai nation and perceive Thai identity. The discourse of the village has been romanticised based upon a socio-political impetus. This paper argues that the romanticised village discourse is repressive and reductive, in the sense that it creates expectations that might not fit with social reality; that the imagination of the peaceful village encourages forced homogeneity; and that the imagination of the pure rustic village bars the village from material progress. The paper contends that the discourse of the Thai village creates cultural anxiety that is well reflected in horror films, based on an analysis of Ban phi pob [Village of the phi pob] (Saiyon Srisawat, 1989) and Phi hua khat [Headless Hero] (Khomsan Triphong, 2002) as responses to the two intense movements of the romanticised village discourse.
A Ghostly Feminine Melancholy: Representing Decay and Experiencing Loss in Thai Horror Films
By analysing significant Thai horror films from 1999—the year Nonzee Nimitbut’s emblematic Nang Nak was released—to 2010, this essay focuses on the presence and representation of female ghosts and undead spirits from traditional Thai myths in contemporary Thai cinema. More precisely, this essay highlights traditional female characters as mediators between horror and love, and fear and mourning, instead of as traditionally frightening entities. This distinction was made possible after the Thai “New Wave.” As ancestral mirror of inner fears and meaningful images reflecting societal concerns, female spirits in contemporary Thai cinema become the emblem of a more complex “monstrous femininity,” merging fear with melancholy, and an irreparable sense of loss with reflections on the ephemeral.