First Update: 20 February 2020
Gun Atthaphan, 26, was in the news to have gone to a police precinct to report an online threat. This is an example of a direct assault to one of the Thai BL community’s most recognized and award-winning actors.
Let’s trace back a bit of history…
Born 4th October 1993, Atthaphan still looks (and projects) a teen in high school who is about to experience his first love, albeit with another handsome boy. While he has been partnered with some popular Thai actors in movies, he remains solidly identified with Off Jumpol – his partner in Theory of Love, and in earlier series including Puppy Honey and their own TV show (similarly comparable to variety shows in Japan where they have various guests). These programs put them at the forefront of the Thai BL firmament, making them royalty.
- With 1.7 million Instagram followers;
- Won Best Supporting Actor at the recent Asian Television Awards;
- His 2015 starring role film, The Blue Hour, participated in the 65th Edition of Berlin International Film Festival as part of Panorama.
The threats may have originated from Off’s real-life relationship, involving a girl. [This information is still subject to verification.]
In the BL scene, most actors participate in “fan service” where they extend their onscreen characters beyond the television screen and “act” for fans to continue with the “fantasy”. In other words, event-gatherings are expected by fans to see these actors continue to play their BL roles. As a reminder, a BL role is one that is romantically involved with an individual of the same sex.
Saint Suppapong, 21, since he was cast in Love by Chance (2018), has been the subject of harassment (some are indirect and veiled) coming from fans (and other personalities) of other BL (competing) actors. Extremely popular with fans and the media, he is a favorite subject of news articles. Treated more like a rival than a co-star, a significant number of events and incidents populate 2018 until now that aim to damage his reputation both as an actor and as an individual.
Veiled threats are coded statements in which no explicit intentions are articulated. This gives the utterer grounds for claiming that there was no legally actionable threat of harm. Veiled threats are similar to indirect ones when the exact consequences to the victim are ambiguous. [source]
However, recent tweets have become direct with a high level of animosity. Is there a difference between veiled and direct threats?
Motivation. It can never be known with complete certainty, but to the extent possible, the understanding motive is a key element in evaluating a threat. We must keep things in context and assess each threat on its own merits. Threat assessment rests on two critical principles:
- All threats and all threateners are not equal;
- Most threateners are unlikely to carry out their threat. However, all threats must be taken seriously and evaluated.
Above are sample tweets of harassment – some may be considered threatening, others may be insulting or insinuating of something malicious. One of the photos is a “collage” showing actors of Love by Chance posted inside a school.
When intrusion to someone’s privacy becomes a habit, it begins to be part of your system. Although rumor-mongering seems to be a recreation to some, it can still be damaging to one’s reputation as it can spread like wildfire. Before you know it, everyone in your community has already heard about a senseless rumor about you. What legal actions can you take against a person who spreads rumors? [source]
Slander and Libel in Thailand. Below summarizes Part 1 of this report.
The most enforceable parts of slander and libel laws come from the Computer Crimes Act (of Thailand). Passed in 2007 and revised recently, the law says that, not only is the person who writes defaming comments accountable for them – but so is any website, webmaster or anyone else considered an “intermediary” of the information who does nothing to report it or remove it.
The case for Saint appears to be the opposite since he never bothered to report on the insinuations or malicious gossip, but instead, it was his mother who responded by denying the rumors and accusations. Still, the same rumors continue, as you can see from the screenshots above.
This article will be updated with more screenshots – since for obvious reasons – the actual Tweets may be deleted by the owners.
Why equate Gun’s more pronounced issue with Saint’s? They are actually quite similar. The intentions are malicious, one with a direct intent to harm while the other is veiled, with a more pronounced intention to spread malicious rumors. In other words, Gun’s predicament has reached a “boiling point”, while Saint’s issue is still a ‘work in progress’, yet it cannot be denied that the animosity has leveled up.
References and Resources:
- You may report any Tweets that attack or insinuates anything malicious or harmful or anything in between here. This applies to Saint Suppapong. We are open to updating this article if you have specific sites or Twitter or Facebook accounts that have a similar purpose;
- The below quote is from SilkLegal a Bangkok based website that offers legal services:
Slander and libel laws differ greatly around the world and what might land you in jail in one country could be perfectly legal in another. Here in Thailand, slander and libel are taken seriously. Any record that one person has worked to damage the reputation of a company or individual can be severely punishable. [source]
Last January, the BL actor in the spotlight was Gulf Kanawut.
In this case, Dara Daily promoted some tweets that the actor seems to be “lying” about his single status and that he and his girlfriend are still “together” instead of what he said that they have separated.
- To what extent will online publications go in order to get views? While this is not a unique issue, the current state of the Thai BL scene is getting to be quite toxic and confrontational;
- What are the factors that give rise to the toxic and confrontational status of BL fandoms?;
- How and why do fans create troll accounts? Do they get paid like their political troll counterparts? Or are they only in for the revenge and the satisfaction of introducing intrigues and scandals?
The first question is moot and academic. The feeding frenzy is as old as when gossip columnists started to get paid for their brand of “news”. Dara Daily and similar publications are not unique or even the exception.
For toxic fans, we have come to realize that:
- It requires a leader who has the resources (man, machine and money). The number of followers is not necessarily huge. Studies show that 5-6 active accounts, given with agenda and targets can wreak havoc as much as a hundred Twitter or Facebook accounts with no guidance (and no one to supervise them);
- There is always a “client” who pays the leader (it can be money or branded products or in some cases, the leader may already have been employed by the client) and directs the level of intensity of attacks. Once a rumor has spread, there is usually no response to defend it. The next step is to follow up on the rumor and offer another set of scenarios that will either ignore the first rumor or supplement it. It can be a completely different set of fake news. In Gulf’s case, there appears to be lack of direction;
- The motivation behind the attacks on Gulf Kanawut can be to gather play views (for a publication) or personal satisfaction or revenge. Unlike political trolls, BL fanatics are said to be satisfied with maintaining the status quo (i.e. the propagation of the BL fantasy from television to real life). Anything that would “hurt” it will be subject to attacks. The response can be varied and unpredictable.
This article will be updated in the next few days with additional details on how trolls (and his clients) focus on their attacks.
- Where do they get the money if the “client” is also the leader?
- What rewards are trolls/fans willing to accept to continue the attacks?
- In the BL fandom, are trolls and their attacks follow any procedures?