Lady Gaga flew into Bangkok on Wednesday for her concert and immediately landed herself in trouble with Thai patriots with this tweet:
“I just landed in Bangkok baby! Ready for 50,000 screaming Thai monsters. I wanna get lost in a lady market and buy fake Rolex.”
Some Thai people were outraged that she should damage Thailand’s reputation in such a way. Others said that if it was alright for Lady Gaga to buy fake Rolex watches then it would be alright for them to buy pirated copies of her latest CDs. Of course, Lady Gaga was just being her controversial self. If it was anyone else posting a comment like that on Twitter no-one would have bothered to reply. This is because Thailand is well known for a place to buy fake goods. Indeed, in today’s Bangkok Post there was a picture of a vendor selling pirated DVDs with the caption that the US has Thailand on a watch list of 13 countries that they consider to be the most serious violators of intellectual property. For Thai people to say Lady Gaga is wrong in wanting to buy fake Rolexes is a bit like the kettle calling the pot black.
What is embarrassing is that the comments of a few vocal Thais has now gone international as the AP have picked up the story (See Lady Gaga angers Thai fans with fake Rolex comment). AP commented that in Thailand, “people tend to get upset when the country’s seedy underworld is highlighted by outsiders”. Which is probably true. I remember a number of years ago when a well known dictionary offered a definition of Bangkok as being a city known for its Buddhist temples and as “a place where there are a lot of prostitutes” (see Thais ban dictionary over ‘city of prostitutes’ slur). Of course, that is not very nice. All cities have their problems. But, it is a classic example of sweeping problems under the carpet by shooting the messenger. It is much the same as boarding up views of slums when visiting heads of states arrive in the city for an important meeting. If there is a problem, then maybe something should be done about it.