วันอาทิตย์, มกราคม 10, 2559

2 ข่าวไทยในสื่อนอก : 1. Meet Maggie Rosenberg, Thailand's American Sweetheart - 2. Thai cosmetics company pulls ad showing actress in blackface

Maggie Rosenberg, Thailand's American Sweetheart

By Melissa Pandika
January 8, 2016

For 19-year-old Brooklyn native Maggie Rosenberg, learning Thai pop songs began as a frustrated attempt to connect with the people of her host country. But the connection turned out stronger than she had anticipated — spawning TV specials, spoofs and adoring fans who gush over her adorable smile and barely discernible accent.

After returning home from a cultural immersion program in Thailand four years ago,Rosenberg taught herself Thai by learning how to sing the country’s pop hits. Today, her covers draw tens of thousands of views, while her original song, the endearing “I Don’t Speak Thai,” has racked up nearly a million. Most videos feature her strumming a ukulele in her bedroom, her voice evoking the stripped-down sweetness of Taylor Swift and Ingrid Michaelson. But her appeal transcends her talent, and even the novelty of a white girl singing in Thai. In a world that glorifies American pop culture, Rosenberg offers a refreshing alternative. “I’m saying, ‘No … I care about the music you’re making,’” she says. For Thai people, “seeing someone else care about their music and culture as much as they do is very exciting.”

Rosenberg admits that her Thai is “bad.” But music has enabled her to make the connections that once eluded her.

Rosenberg has a dark, bushy mane and elfin features, her crinkled eyes accentuated with flicks of liquid liner. Sitting in her Brooklyn Heights living room, she traces her musical roots to her father, a drummer, and her stepfather, an opera singer. Singing fulfilled Rosenberg most; she picked up a guitar at age 13 and began penning her own songs soon after.

The summer after her sophomore year in high school, Rosenberg participated in a homestay in the Thai village of Ban Pa Sak Ngam. With almost zero knowledge of Thai, she resented not understanding the nuances of her host family’s interactions, their humor. A Google search turned up Deung-Deut-Jai, a blog that posts song lyrics in Thai and Roman script, along with the English translation. With the blog as her guidebook, she posted her first cover, Aom Sucharat’s “Huang Huang” (“Jealous and Worried”) on YouTube in 2013. “It was such bad quality, and my Thai is so bad,” she laughs. Still, the blog Thai Winds reposted the video, whose views have soared to nearly 33,000. “I was so shocked,” Rosenberg says.

Her video for “I Don’t Speak Thai” would shock her even more. The cute, head-swaying ditty shares Rosenberg’s own earnest, sometimes awkward attempts to learn Thai. She asks her listeners to speak slowly, confessing: “I don’t speak Thai / But I try very hard.” The video quickly made the rounds on Thai television, while viewers posted their own covers and flooded her with Facebook friend requests. One smitten fan posted three odes to her on YouTube (titled “Maggie Rosenberg 1,” “2” and “3”).

Rosenberg admits that her Thai is “bad.” But music has enabled her to make the connections that once eluded her, perhaps running even deeper than those possible through conversation. After sitting wordlessly in one young man’s house as part of an HIV prevention outreach to rural Thai villages, she began to sing — and moved his mother to tears.

Rosenberg wants to pursue a music career stateside, although she plans to continue posting Thai songs. Her whirlwind fame still leaves her wide-eyed. “It was just some dorky hobby,” she says. But “it makes me happy to know something I do can make someone else really happy.”


Thai cosmetics company pulls ad showing actress in blackface

By Jocelyn Gecker | AP
via Washington Post
January 9, 2016

BANGKOK — “You just need to be white to win.”

A skin-whitening ad in Thailand featuring that slogan alongside a famous actress in blackface makeup sparked such outrage that the company pulled it Friday, just a day after releasing it. The retraction did little, however, to stem a debate the ad ignited about the regularity of racist advertisements in the Southeast Asian country.

The online video campaign for a new product called “Snowz” starred porcelain-skinned Thai movie star Cris Horwang. In the ad, she talks about being an aging actress in a competitive industry as gentle piano music plays in the background.

“If I stopped looking after myself, everything that I have worked for — all the investment I have made to keep myself white — would disappear,” says the 35-year-old starlet. “New stars would replace me, I would fade away.”

As she speaks, a smiling younger woman enters the picture and Cris’ own image darkens to charcoal black.

A male voice says “You just need to be white to win.”

A tirade of criticism erupted on social media after the video was launched online Thursday. Online commentators labeled the ad as racist and ignorant, while some heaped criticism on the actress for accepting the job. Others called it a strategic way to attract wide attention for the product and boost sales.

One prominent critic was former beauty queen Nonthawan Thongleng, who was crowned Miss Thailand World in 2014. Media at the time described her as “Thailand’s Pocahontas” and as an “Amazonian Goddess” because of her olive-skinned complexion, and said that her victory over more fair-skinned competitors was a turning point for Thai beauty contests.

“Even if you are black, you can be a winner too,” Nonthawan said in a Facebook post Friday.

“We can prove ourselves by our abilities, white or black. If you are good, people will accept and look up to you,” she said, adding that judging people by their skin color was “such an old-fashioned value.”

Thai cosmetics company Seoul Secret issued a “heartfelt apology” in a statement Friday saying it had pulled the video clip and related advertisements.

“Our company did not have any intention to convey discriminatory or racist messages,” the company said in the statement posted on its Facebook page. “What we intended to convey was that self-improvement in terms of personality, appearance, skills and professionalism is crucial.”

The ad by Seoul Secret is not the first to use racial stereotypes in Thai advertising, where beauty is defined as fair and delicate. Thais with darker skin are associated with the lower classes from the countryside, whose attempt to emulate the porcelain complexions of the Bangkok elite has fueled an enormous industry in skin-whitening products and cosmetic clinics.

In 2013, the Dunkin’ Donuts franchise in Thailand came under fire for using a female model in blackface makeup to promote a new chocolate flavored doughnut. The company’s CEO in Thailand initially dismissed complaints about racism, but the U.S. parent company quickly followed up with an apology and pulled the ad.

TV commercials for skin-whitening products regularly promote the idea that white is beautiful. An herbal Thai toothpaste says its dark-colored product “is black, but it’s good.” A longtime Thai brand of household mops and dustpans called “Black Man” uses a logo with a smiling black man in a tuxedo and bow tie.


Associated Press writers Nattasuda Anusonadisai and Jason Corben contributed to this report.

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