Not standing

16 09 2020

Thisrupt has a commentary on the recent furore over not standing in cinemas for the royal anthem, with royalists upset.

As PPT hasn’t been to a cinema for a while, we were a little surprised to learn that “[t]here’s an on-going trend of movie-goers not standing for the royal anthem.” It adds:

Perhaps a few people choose to remain seated. Maybe half the theater. Many movie-goers can tell, these days, it’s common for people to stay seated.

The commentary then gets a little befuddled, stating:

During the reign of King Rama 9, it was unimaginable. Back then, some might stood up sincerely from their heart. Some might have done it out of the social convention. Some might have done it for fear of chastisement. But in general, everyone stood up.

This is wrong and also falls into a trap seen even among some anti-monarchy critics that views the dead king with a kind of longing that obscures to many facts.

It might be true that it was the military dictator Gen Sarit Thanarat who introduced the practice as he sought to gain legitimacy for himself and the monarchy. However, PPT recalls a time in the early 1970s, when many cinema patrons would flee the theater when the credits came on at the end of the film as the anthem was played at the end of the screening.

We can’t recall when this changed to the anthem at the beginning of screenings, but the idea was to force “respect.” But that didn’t work either. There were many who chose seats at the back of the cinema so that they could remain seated. Others waited in the foyer and came into the theater after the anthem finished.

Even at concerts in the mid-2000s, it was not unusual to attend a concert and see the hall empty. It would immediately fill after the anthem.

And, we should not forget the case of political activist Chotisak Onsoong, who with a friend, were accused by police in April 2008 of insulting the monarchy for refusing to stand during the royal anthem and who was forced into exile for some years before the case was dropped.

The Thisrupt story does observe that: “These days, not only are people not standing up, some even post about it on Facebook.” A recent altercation over not standing saw one Facebook post get “over 52,000 shares and over 19,000 comments.”


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