I have ideas on what I want to blog about, but little inspiration to fuel those ideas and give them shape until I watched Tawan Arb Dao, a new lakorn currently airing on Channel 7.
I’ve already written a first impressions post on it here, but decided one scene in particular needed my complete attention in terms of the class issues it portrayed.
MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
Tawan Arb Dao (2020) started airing on Channel 7 on March 26 and currently airs two days a week, Wednesday and Thursday.
Tawan Arb Dao (2020): Siwakorn disguises himself as Siwath, his twin brother in order to investigate his death. He tries to avoid sleeping with Chorprae who is Siwath’s lover and meets Daopradub, Chorprae’s daughter who was called out from abroad to help with the family’s company. (Source: MyDramaList)
Our main couple. Kem Hussawee who plays twins, Siwakorn, Siwath. Thisa Varitthisa plays Daopradub
The nang’ek Dao is sent by Chor (her boss and auntie) to handle workers who are protesting and demanding a wage. The main couple go there together and learn the workers want a 50 baht raise ($1.53). Yes, a $1.53 raise. 😱 Oh, the horror!!!! The unruly workers go after their bosses, who tells them they’ll call the cops.
Our heroes arrive at the construction site, with the nang’ek in a dress and high heels. The pra’ek Siwakorn/Siwath says they’ll discuss the raise at a meeting. To which the worker replies, you get hundreds of thousands and air conditioning, why do you need a meeting? And here’s what follows.
The site boss in his yellow jacket replies “If you guys did as much work as them, they would pay you a hundred thousand per month too.” And then, “You guys should go finish sixth grade first!”
Notice that the site boss says that. Not our hero or nang’ek or pra-ek. They can’t point that out because they’re of a different class from the workers, so a boss worker has to point that out to make it seem like a legitimate point. (Oh and by the way, I’ve not seen either pra’ek or nang’ek do a lick of work 😂 this whole time unless you count looking for trouble or talking a lot about non-work issues. That they do plenty of at the company).
The head of the striking workers retorts (quite reasonably), “Then go find someone with a bachelor’s degree to come do the work!” Then he goes, “If you’re gonna talk like that, there’s no need to negotiate!” “Destroy everything!”
I’m skipping some things, but basically at this point, the nang’ek steps in and tells them to stop. She’s ignored, rightfully so (why should they listen to her?) and it isn’t until she tells them her name that they stop.
They crowd the nang’ek with pleas of help, and things are going downhill until all of the sudden, a piece of wall is about to fall on a little girl (who’s at their work site?) and Dao saves the girl. I. KID. YOU. NOT. 🙃
The girl turns out to be the daughter of the leader of the striking workers and he’s suitably impressed. So impressed, he tells Dao, “that we won’t ask for a raise anymore. We will get back to work.”
Dao replies she’ll try to bring it up (ahhhh, how sweet) and the nang’ek is carted off to the hospital to be treated for her… skinned knee. There are so many things wrong with this I don’t know where to start. Maybe a list 😪.
- First of all, notice that this inexperienced rich girl (think typical white savior trope) who we don’t know has ever worked a day in her life, saves the day.
- Second, all those striking workers look upon her as their savior and even wish for salvation from her. Really?!
- Third, why is the little girl sitting in the middle of what looks like a construction site? Why is she there at all? I blame this entirely on lazy parents who didn’t teach their kid to avoid stereotypes and lazy plotting so their kid grew up to write this stuff.
- Fourth, look again how the nang’ek says she’ll try to bring it up. And they thank her. 🙄
- Fifth, perhaps this is not a unionized group of workers. Who knows? But usually it takes more than one person to agree the strike is over and this guy immediately says without consulting everyone, and yet they all agree.
- Sixth… I can’t go on. I don’t want to go on.
The bottom line is that the scene is incredibly lazy, riddled with tropes and stereotypes and to what purpose? To give the nang’ek moments with the pra’ek, to show her courage, intelligence or fortitude? It did none of that.
Striking workers are a common trope in many dramas, including Forget You Remember Love (2020), a Chinese remake of The Prince Who is a Frog, which is airing now. We can also see many other better and more nuanced portrayals of the working class in lakorns such as Rahut Rissaya or even Dum Khun. But it will always be problematic when the working class is there to show the merits of the rich, rather then the merits of the working class. To be continued…