'Glocal' Big Brother phenomenon in Thailand

Noparat Tananuraksakul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The entertainment industry is lucrative and flourishing owing to advancements in modern technology. Television, in particular, penetrates homes in almost every corner of the world. The current trend of reality-based TV shows in the West has proven to be a phenomenal success and prompted Asian TV in 2005 to adapt and create its own version of the popular international series Big Brother – Big Brother Thailand. The show drew large audiences and was such a hit that its producers, the Kantana Group, immediately produced a second series in the following year. This paper explores the phenomenon of a ‘glocal’ television program in Thailand - the first and second Big Brother Thailand series - examining the ways in which audiences view and interpret the shows, both in terms of passive and active reception, via positive (identification) and negative (indignation). Responses from local and expatriate viewers vary, with some approving of the behaviour of housemates, including gestures, and others finding these inappropriate and insulting. Leading Thai commentators, however, have unanimously condemned the shows, questioning their propensity to promote ‘unThai’ behaviours that have the potential to corrupt the Thai social fabric. The influence of these critics caused the show’s producers to be called before the House Committee on Religion, Arts and Culture in 2005 – publicity about which caused the program’s ratings to peak. This paper examines the range of responses to Big Brother Thailand and raises the question of whether glocal television programs benefit local communities by increasing global understanding and communication or contribute to the watering down of local cultures in favour of global hegemony.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalNEO : journal for higher degree research students in the social sciences and humanities
Volume2008
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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