Girl from Nowhere

20 05 2021

We thought readers might be interested in a recent NME story on the arrival of the second series of Girl from Nowhere on Netflix. The story is by Kong Rithdee, so well worth reading in full. We have some bits from it here.

As Kong points out, the series requires the viewer to:

first understand Thailand…. Or at least you have to understand Thailand in 2020, the year marked by youth-led street protests and the Bad Students movement – the year when schoolchildren began questioning what had been once unquestionable, and when they marched, in uniform, to the Ministry of Education to demand the resignation of its conservative minister.

…[S]eason 2 has the diabolical teenager Nanno (Chicha Amatayakul) show up at a new school in each episode, where she proceeds to raise hell against fellow students, tyrannical teachers, horny womanisers, sadistic seniors and other authority figures.

Nanno humiliates, inflicts injuries, incites mobs, provokes murder, and upends status quo. Her ultimate target, however, is the culture of impunity and institutionalised oppression….

…[T]he protests and the emergence of Bad Students weren’t just driven by national politics; they are an expression of cultural dissent, a tectonic generational shift, and a burst wound long festering under structural narrow-mindedness and conservative paternalism….

The generational rift remains deep even though the steam has run out. Protest leaders, young and old, have been summoned by the police. A 16-year-old has even been slapped with a lese majeste charge – under a century-old law that criminalises insulting the monarchy – and may face jail time. At the peak of the protests, university students were arrested in a broad crackdown. Some key movement leaders have been jailed, and bail denied. The loss of leadership – not to mention the pandemic – has stalled the protests’ momentum. The adults, in short, are not going to let the children win, not now, not soon….

But look carefully, and Nanno is not Bad Students personified. Rather, she’s an exaggerated, showboating version. Bad Students want change. Nanno wants blood and the last laugh. And like the people she’s punished, she gets away with it because she’s privileged above the rule of the living. Her non-human status also means her vengeance is not anchored in any real-world struggle. The “Liberation” episode, which has come to be hailed as the pinnacle of the season, is so literal-minded, befuddling, and reflexively self-righteous that it becomes clear how Nanno, for all her posturing, could[n’t] care less about rights or justice….


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