“I Don’t Suffer Social Media Celebrities Gladly” by Sean Broskie
I have been asked to write something about the recent controversy regarding some Farang douchebag in Thailand who filmed his cat being attacked by a scorpion. My good friend John asked me what I think about it, and to be honest, I tried not to. It’s not really worth dignifying with a response. Furthermore, I’m a young Farang social media contributor, and to engage would be both self-indulgent and inflammatory. What I do want to address, however, is the rise of Farang social media “celebrities” in Thailand.
Let’s say Farang Vlogger A makes a video of himself pissing on a soi dog. The moralistic voices of social media react with censure, which simultaneously causes outrage and multiplies the follower base of A. Now Farang Vloggers B and C come out with videos in righteous criticism of A and defense of Thai values, which multiples their follower bases and further inflates Vlogger A’s popularity. Can you see the feedback loop?
There is a distinction to be drawn between social media personalities and true Farang celebrities in Thailand,such as Ajarn Adam or even the likes of Sonny Burns. Ajarn Adam, through hard work and careful understanding of Thai culture, has hit the true glass ceiling for a Farang in Thailand. He has a regular spot on Thai television, which he uses to help Thai people further their English language abilities. Hats off to you, mate.
Sonny burns is an Australian model/actor who has played the role of handsome yet hippy-dippy Farang in a primetime Thai drama, and has used the momentum of his popularity to establish a small language school in Bangkok. He was also falsely accused of being the Bangkok bomber due to his tall stature and unkempt hairstyle, but I’m sure he hopes everybody will forget that. Though not an educator by background, he has managed to become a celebrity in Thailand and use this to carve out a niche for himself.
Social media “celebrities” are not the same as traditional celebrities. In the age of television, they used to say that every celebrity got their “15 minutes” of fame. Not regrettably, social media has reduced this to 15 seconds. Where people today remember Right Said Fred of “I’m Too Sexy” fame and Haley Joel Osment (the child from Sixth Sense, Forrest Gump, and Pay it Forward), people in twenty years will not remember Logan Paul or the PPAP guy.
I suppose I should answer the inevitable question: What makes you different from these people, Mr. Broskie? Well, I don’t make YouTube videos. I don’t have the experience or motivation to do so. But I spent too many damn years studying the craft of narrative (and learning things like never begin a sentence with “but”) to let my own experience go to waste. I write for the dozen-or-so people who appreciate the way I say things and aren’t afraid to disagree. Shit,I don’t even ask for or receive compensation for what I do (Immigration please take note). I’m here because I want to start a conversation, not so I can wank standing in front of a mirror.