Thai TV personality draws internet ire with tone-deaf post

TV personality Patcharasri “Kalamare” Benjamas angered netizens yesterday with a minute-long clip in which she implied that Thais could overcome Covid-19 through prayer and appeal to sacred beings. The minute-long clip was excerpted from a longer Facebook LIVE video she did on her Kalamare Fan Page, and went so viral that #กาละแมร์ trended on Twitter through the night.

“This isn’t the first crisis our nation has faced, is it – we’ve been through the floods, the Tom Yum Kung crisis, the burning of our city (red shirts) …this isn’t the first time, there’s no need to panic. We’ve made it through it all,” she said on the LIVE video, draped in thick pearl necklaces.

“Thailand is such a sacred nation. You should know how many Bodhisattvas we have, we have the king, we have angels and sacred beings protecting us…very tightly! Just think of him.”

“When I can’t think of anything or on days when I’m just ‘blur’” She raises her hands up to her forehead in a wai as if praying to the Buddha, “[I just pray] Help your child.”

She concludes the video with a radiant smile, her hands clasping her pearl-clad neck. “As such, it’s up to you if you want it. I will stand above Covid-19.”

Thai netizens first took to twitter to call out the tone-deaf nature of the video, comparing it to that of other celebrities around the world, including Vanessa Hudgens (whose own LIVE video questioned the seriousness of the pandemic) and the highly unpopular ‘Imagine’ video coordinated by Gal Gadot and a host of other celebrities.

“It reminds me of the scene in Parasite, where the rain makes it such that the wealthy family can’t have their trip, but for poor people it’s a life and death situation,” wrote one Twitter user Tpagon ‘Champ’ W, “COVID-19 is just an ‘inconvenience’ for wealthy people, but its life and death for the poor.”

Kalamare later posted on her Instagram that the clip was taken out of context from a one-and-a-half-hour LIVE video.

“I wanted to convey to my fanpage, who are working people or businessmen who may be losing heart, that they shouldn’t lose hope, that they should keep calm, find opportunities in this crisis…we must hold hands and fight this together,” she wrote.

The clarification didn’t seem to convince her Instagram followers. Many called out how out of touch the subsequent post was from the realities of the many Thais living from hand to mouth.

“It’s okay,” one Instagram user wrote, “You may have graduated with pedigree, but it seems you learned too little.”

Another wrote: “Pray for people to stop criticizing you, too.”

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