When the military is on top XXV

It started out as a cave rescue that miraculously succeeded. It now seems that that rescue has become fodder for the propagandists of the military dictatorship.

The dictators want to control everything. But controlling also means constructing narratives that promote the military-monarchy coalition. We have previously posted on the palace’s efforts at milking propaganda value from the rescue. The Economist mentioned the junta’s efforts to bask in the limelight.

A few days ago, the Bangkok Post reported that the junta had moved to establish a “creative media” committee, “led by the culture minister, is set to be appointed to screen projects to recollect the story of the 13 Wild Boar footballers in flooded Tham Luang cave.” As far as we can recall, the most creative aspects of the military dictatorship have been its lies, although they are now so blatant that the creatively level is about zero.

It seems that the new committee “is to examine all the projects and ensure producers comply with Thai laws during their work…”. We wonder then, if Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, who made this point means that all the other filmmakers don’t follow the law?

Wissanu reckons that more than a dozen companies are lining up for the rights. We think he means that the junta simply wants control over the production to ensure that it gets plenty of credit.

The junta is particularly keen to ensure that the rescued boys, their coach and their families don’t talk to producers and foreign journalists. We also noticed that the junta’s minions carefully choreographed the religious ceremony for some of the boys this past week.

Managing the projects” for those rescued will be an all-junta affair, with Culture Minister Vira Rojpojchanarat “pick[ing] the committee members himself before informing the deputy premier of the final member list.” At the same time, the junta is considering making “its own version of the story, crafting out the work itself or hiring private companies to do the job…”.

As explained in another report, the job of the junta’s committee is to “look at the proposed projects’ accuracy and will safeguard the intellectual property rights of the boys and coach, the rescuers and the agencies involved, and protect the image of Thailand. It will also be concerned about the impact on film locations.” In other words, the junta wants control of the narrative. So much so that not only considering its own version of the story, Wissanu says the junta “wants to be a co-producer on the Thai movie productions…”.

This all fits with the junta’s existing policy where film projects qualify for a 20% investment return “if they promote national interests and offer a positive image of the country.”

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