Saturday, August 30, 2008

film critique - bangkok girl

Warning, this post does NOT contain anything gay!!!!! I am spending a quiet saturday night at home and thought that I'd invest some of my time in watching a documentary movie about Bangkok and sex trade. (surprise,'s like these words fall into place to nicely) It is most creatively called "Behind Bangkok's Smile" and filmed by a Canadian man. If you want a simple, naive documentary that satisfies your cravings for clichés of the poor bargirl from Isan, the evil Farang and the Land of smiles (well, the author made the surprise discovery that not all the smiles suggest a person being happy upon his second visit to Thailand), then this is one for you. Which pretty much means that I hated it.

The author mimics a voyeuristic, innocent and good-hearted man who, touched by the touching story of Pla, a bar girl, decides to make a documentary about her. During this movie, the ever and ever recurring clichés of the world of paid sex resurface.

The author states - and clearly feels that Pla is "different" from all the other girls. Yes, she may have a cuter smile than the one beside her but essentially she is a prostitute.

The author believes Pla when she says that she only works behind the bar and never goes with customers. Yeah right, one of the oldest excuses ever.

The author says that he doesnt pay her. I would love to trust him, but he apparently spent 4 months filming this movie with how would she be able to afford to leave the bar for so long?

The author clearly suggests that farang tourists or expats are all sex-addicted and drunk assholes who treat these poor girls badly. Dont even need to rebut on that one.

The author plays with the image of the poor girl with the hard life that "has" to flee into prostitution.

In fact, poor good old Mister Canada surely fell in love with "beautiful" and sweet Pla and then camouflaged his feelings with the noble intention of filming a movie, showing that he truly cares and he too is "different" from the other farangs.

The argument of people having to flee into prostitution is one that genuinely worries and annoys me. Surely, many Thais have an incredibly hard life. But, in all political correctness, that is not a reason to be prostitute. The girls (and boys) that go into prostitution have a clear intention to earn money (and they can earn a lot more than a girl or a boy selling underwear at Robinson's). If poverty alone would suffice as a reason for becoming a prostitute, we'd see about half of the world being prostitutes. The whole situation is easily explainable by's a market. The market of sex. It is a market with two and demand. If there is demand, there will be supply to meet the demand since there is money to be made and if there is a good supply, the demand will also increase (partly because of the low price...) The only question is, which one is first...the egg or the chicken? By the way, in a realistic market, the demand is not always met with the supply...and obvious constraint in the sex market could be high investment costs of the supplier (e.g. it is dangerous to be in the business, it is immoral, there is too high a damage for your own reputation so you will have (personal, financial) problems in the future, the job is simply too disgusting and repulsive).

So now the big question. What does this tell us about the Thai people if they are so willing to meet the demand for sex...they meet it so well that they have built up an amazing reputation for it so that the supply kept growing.....I dont want to be mean here and leave this question open but animate everyone to think about why Thais even "embrace" this trade...

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