ENGENDERING PUBLIC MOURNING OF KING RAMA IX THROUGH DRAMA SERIES: ROYALISM AND THAI ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY
In the wake of the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX (r.1946-2016), Thailand’s entertainment industry produced several drama series participated by countless Thai celebrities. It was a royalist popular culture that aimed to mourn and remember the late king. This paper examines the “narrative structures” widely shared by these royalist series. Unlike in royal documentary films, protagonists in the series are commoners diverse in their backgrounds, nationalities, and socio-economic status. Taking place during October 2016, the plots contain warming, comic, and tear-jerking messages which are worthy of a close textual analysis. More importantly, this paper argues that these TV series are political arts. They serve to reproduce a hierarchical order and ideological domination through signs and language. This paper also explores the so-called royalism and bourgeois ideology as ruling ideologies; therefore, it enables us to better understand not only royal hegemony during the twilight era of Rama IX but also Thailand’s decade-long political conflict – the conflict that outlived the death of the monarch and became a challenging question under the new reign.
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