We live in an age where people can pick and choose what to enjoy from the broadest selection of reading material or television in Human history. We have virtually limitless options of which book to read or show to watch. However, what happens when you adore a TV series based on a reading source, like a novel? You’re curious, so you look on the Internet for and find the novel available to you in its native language or even translated for you, usually with that same level of excitement. In this case, your well-loved show is motivating you to pay tons more cash just so you can read the book itself. Oh the book is always better than the adaptation. Or using a really enlightened approach, you learn a new language just to be able to read the story in its native language.
What happens when in that same book, you read about subjects that are far darker such as violence, sexual assault or even incest that were somehow left out of the TV version? It can be a bit of a shock to the system so to speak. Do you feel the same way about your favorite TV show now? Are you able to separate the newer, coarser, emotions you feel because of reading the book from the positive feelings you experience when watching the show? Here’s my opinion, what’s yours? Leave a comment, and we can talk about it.
—Edited by TheFNGee
Everyone knows about breakout hit series “TharnType the Series,” which debuted as one of the top trending shows in BL history. With its beautiful main actors and passionate scenes, it’s not particularly surprising at the show’s popularity. But with modern “cancel culture” comes the inevitable backlash. The scenes of Tharn leaving a hickey on Type’s neck while drunk or the infamous scene where Tharn forces himself on Type in the shower to give him a blow job, had Twitter Tweets across the world on fire with a mixture of joy or condemnation over the content. However, this also brought up the novels the show is based on, and of course, the content of the books is more graphic. The common thread of logic is that these scenes were unnecessary and that their presence in the show or book wasn’t needed. I highly disagree; without these scenes to create a common theme of a battle of wills between the two men, the show would have a far less dramatic and emotional in its impact.
Mame, the author of “TharnType,” “Accidentally in Love (Love By Chance),” “How to Secretly” and “Breath” creates love stories out of common themes and adds twists that people find distasteful or toxic. The concept that the darker themes of these books should be removed and somehow the story still works is illogical, not to mention excessively puritanical. For example, in the series “Love By Chance,” Pete’s back story and conflict are based around a toxic situation involving another character named (appropriately enough) Trump, who attempts to extort money from him because of a compromising video of Pete. Now realistically, there is no way Ae’s presence in Pete’s storyline would have the same impact without that situation, or, in contrast, in the book where Ae violently throttles the same character for brutalizing Pete. If that hadn’t happened, Pete wouldn’t have been sent abroad, and the three-year separation would never have happened, drastically altering their story.
In another of her books, “Breath,” it starts with a rape scene, and the two men carry on this way because one of them is convinced he is the property of the other to do with as he sees fit. I didn’t finish this one because frankly, that sort of story isn’t my cup o’ tea. Sometimes stories are written for gratifying experiences by the reader who is into that sort of thing. If that’s their thing, that’s their thing, but it doesn’t make it my thing. I wish people would follow the mentality that not everything has to be a certain way. Yes, the author got famous for “Love By Chance,” but that doesn’t mean it’s all she writes or that we as readers have to consume everything she writes.
It’s impossible to cut negative scenes from a narrative if they are the basis for potential character growth. A popular belief is if rape is taken out of the story, it’s still functional – I disagree in this instance. The way rape is used in conjunction with the rest of the story is a gray area. Some authors utilize rape simply as a plot device, while others fetishize it for sexual situations. These circumstances are accurate, but in a lot of the BL books I’ve read, these scenes are plot devices. Like in “Together With Me,” the novel says that when Korn discovers that Knock is being more than friendly with Knock’s ex-girlfriend, Korn decides to “punish” Knock.
Let’s pause for a moment because I would like to make sure readers understand the use of the word “punish” in Thai BL connotations. “Punish” means to engage in rough sex forcefully that’s initially painful to the submissive but mutually satisfying in the end. So Korn punishes Knock brutally, and then the scene shifts. Knock refuses to go to the doctor because of his embarrassment and the shame he feels from what happened. Korn, of course, makes him go and Yiwha meets them afterward for lunch. Fully aware of the situation, she confronts Korn about it first and then turns on Knock, implying he was justly punished for his actions.
Whoa! That’s a bit heavy, right? Well, the world in which the novel’s characters exist is a far more cruel place, and their lives in these novels are far more severe than the versions we see on BL shows once adapted from the book. (It’s very feasible that this punishment scene was reworked and became the start the fan-loved series, driving one of the main plot threads.)
So why was this violent “punishment” scene even in the book? The answer is to show these characters as they are in those moments, flaws, and all. It’s not for everyone, but it’s not meant for everyone. And therein lies the rub: if something isn’t meant for everyone, why is everyone reading it, watching it, and talking about it? The answer is because we are all curious about our beloved characters. If you’re not ready to deal with the “real” situation as described in the original text of the book, then maybe you shouldn’t bother with reading the original source material of one of your favorite TV series.
Again, situations that make people describe as toxic telegraph how they feel about those situations. The authors who write these scenes have a point in doing so. Kengkla and Techno’s drunken experience being the start of their relationship is just how she wanted to start it. We, as an audience, have the clear choice of whether to be a fan of it or not. It’s not as simple as taking out that one night and having the two become the couple they are by the end of it. Kengkla has to learn to stop lying if he wants his love to work.
Brothers loving brothers is another common situation in BL books that has fans up in arms, and this one I find befuddling. In “Love By Chance,” stepbrothers, Tum and Tar have the forbidden romance that had fans conflicted on whether to love it or hate it. But the real interesting thing is their relationship was softened for the television series and in the books, the two are actually related by blood being brothers. Why the change? Because the television producers wanted it that way. Which brings us back to why not leave it as it were and not change it? The answer is because certain taboo subjects wouldn’t be sexy or marketable otherwise. If the characters themselves didn’t exist, which is what fans want, then Tharn and Type would be drastically different. Tar is Tharn’s ex-boyfriend and the reason he treats love so seriously. Taking out the characters would change so many narratives the stories wouldn’t make sense. I personally feel that this ‘cancel culture’ demand for shows to take out scenes of an upsetting or situations that run socially askew doesn’t feel right to me. We didn’t write the book, nor did we make the show. We choose to enjoy them and love them for what they are, not the other way around.
Thanks for reading. Thoughts? Post back.
Join the discussion 20 Comments
Your explanation is leaving out the real issue… the authors are straight women that are portraying in their novels the rape culture of their country.
It’s simple as that.
If you get to know more about how normalized is rape in Thailand (in levels you would find difficult to accept), how it affects victims, activists, and how twisted is their law system, you would understand that they are writing their books perpetuating the problem.
Their lakorns are filled with romanticized rape because that’s what Thai men believe is ok.
I recommend you to read this article about it: https://undertheropes.com/2016/04/01/rape-culture-in-thailand/ and you will understand the real problem.
Do you have a link to the interview or bio where Mame or the other writers mentioned have called themselves heterosexual?
Hello, I do agree that cultural differences mediate public reception to rape culture. At the same time the subject of the article is whether that aspect of books with a more serious tone then YA fiction should be censored and from the articles’ POV I think it shouldn’t. I do not know enough about Thailand and its cultures to speak to half of your comment. But to the rape in books perpetuating rape culture I can say I disagree: as a person who plays many violent video games I do not feel a desire to shoot anyone or harm anyone. So the argument that rape in books creates a desire in the reader to go out and rape someone seems farfetched to me. At the same time I do agree that the lack of consequences in these books for rapists is like applauding the action which is gross and revolting to me as a rape victim myself. The ability to separate fiction from reality is a distinction all readers have. I hope that I respectfully responded to your comment and feel free to respond. I enjoy conversation on topics like this. Side note I did read the article
Not sure why my comment was deleted, but I think it’s fair to point out that we don’t know Mame’s sexuality. We can’t reduce her to being an outsider just because she hasn’t publicly stated her sexuality.
I don’t know why myself on your comment being deleted but I agree with you. Saying all BL writings are done by women seems unrealistic since many men also write it.
I agree with what you said, like in TWM changing or omitting that part didn’t change the story that much, but in cases like TharnType would completely change the tone.
In TharnType those scenes are part of the building of their relationship, like you said in your review of episode 3(?) the shower scene is important because you are able to understand that although Type’s mind tells him to push Tharn away his body is craving Tharn’s touch also in the novel this is a turn point for Type since he begins to understand he doesn’t feel bothered by Tharn’s touch, their relationship is shown too in those little interactions.
Agreed, it’s their push and pull dynamic that allows them to grow into men who are worthy of each other and it does take a bit of time and pain on both sides but they wouldn’t without the scenes people say should be omitted
my issue with Mame’s stories (or rather … adaptations of her stories cause i was never compelled to read her novels) is that she never properly explores the problematic tropes she uses. they seem to be used as tasteless plot devices that just seem /so/ edgy. Kengla/Techno storyline is just awful, Type has tragic backstory that is never really explored beyond the level that can be cured with Tharns magical healing cock, etc etc. she just fetishizes those tropes and uses them in very untasteful ways when you just could have the story with same/similar premise and less stupid writing. either keep the dark parts and have some solution/show negative impact of those dark parts or just like… not use them???
i like her characters but i feel like her stories would be better if her writing was only inspiration for the script and the shows were not following novels. some things just dont translate well from writing into live action.
In the novel you get more depth to Type’s trauma
Sum of all Fears was not about 9/11.
I agree with the don’t like, don’t read mentality but I disagree that taking out rape scenes would irreversibly alter stories. For intance Love by Chance takes out the scene where Ae rapes Pete and the story still feels conclusive. Same thing with the omission of the rape scene in Together With Me. You said it yourself with TWM: “(It’s very feasible that this punishment scene was reworked and became the start the fan-loved series, driving one of the main plot threads)”
My issue with Mame stems from her dressing up the rape scene as BDSM when it is far from it. Writing these deemed problematic is all well and good but if you attempt to justify it or make it out to be something less reprehensible you’re doing your audience a disservice. That is my personal opinion.
At the end of the day I am an adult who can choose for herself what she does or doesn’t watch or read, but I feel it is different when an author justifies what her characters do outside of the txt.
I appreciate your thoughts and I thank you for them. I do agree with you on Love By Chance because they were able to make it work but at the same time think if Love By Chance had been a politically correct show it would not have been as good or successful. Choosing to omit a scene that if I remember right happened after the story of the show ended is a mute point.
Mame using BDSM term to redefine rape where blood is used as lube was ridiculous and I think she was just generalizing the term to justify their characters presence in the show. I highly disagree with her on that point as a BDSM top myself. But hey she’s her and will use whatever justification needed to stay in the spotlight.
It’s feasible to rework scenes but I do not ever agree with the belief that books should be censored and republished without the toxic scenes. And if someone enjoys a character they should at the very least acknowledge their roots if nothing else in support of the books
Thank you for your reply. I do disagree with you saying if LBC has been “politically correct” it would not have been as successful. Ae confronting the person who harmed Pete is actually a very politically correct thing to do; it positions the rapist as being squarely in the wrong and leads the audience to view Ae is a loving protector. I don’t think many people are upset at what happened to Pete being left in.
That is exactly my issue with Mame’s words. The campaign to oust her from Twitter was childish and self-indulgent but her words did hurt some people.
I don’t think this is so much censorship as it is the authors voluntarily agreeing to modify their work for a wider audience. As far as I know the likes of TharnType, Love by Chance, Breath etc. are all still preserved as their original works. Authors like Mame should just avoid attempting to pass off darker works (e.g. blood as lube is BDSM not rape / raping your significant other out of jealousy is punishment, not a crime) as more palatable content in order to conform to notions of right and wrong. This forces the conversation from “This is problematic content and that’s okay” to “Raping your significant other is actually BDSM and is totally okay.”
Thank you for taking the time to talk to me.
You’re welcome and I enjoy your thoughts immensely. When I say Politically Correct I mean the whole show. The (Techno rape by Keng) the (Tum Tar incest) as well as the rest of it. Mame is a shock value writer who knows what people like and appeals to those people. The books that are really shocking are the ones listed as porn not novels and have the adults only label on the bindings. So it’s a lot harder to say “this should be censored” since it’s deliberately appealing to a pornographic audience and not an audience of people looking for a YA novel. She has done a good job of creating books for both audiences but I’ve noticed many readers keep lumping both into the same categories because of Love By Chance including them that way. It’s less in my eyes to do with her personally thought she is allowing it and more to do with the company making the show to include cast that were used primarily in porn books to be in a show for teens.
I do not, nor will I ever consider the cancel culture, nothing more than a 21st century method to purity and censor books. Original editions of books rarely come close to the made for television version. Recent movies especially in western countries release the sanitized version of a book, expressly written for the movie or TV series.
When people complain about a specific scene, it likely hits a raw nerve or worse, their paranoia due to religious indoctrination. For those who enjoy reading keep on reading for a great experience.
I will give you two examples of my experience with big cinema movies. After reading the first edition hard cover book Dune I walked out of the movie with minutes. The movie started on chapter 12 of a beautifully written book.
In 1991 before the movie The Sum of All Fears was released I read the hard back first edition and loved the book. When the movie was released in 2002 it was fashioned around a made for idiots paperback version. The original book told the story of how a radical group, all Arab, hijacked several planes and flew them into the WTC and White House.
When politics of correctness gets involved with things they don’t understand the words “Houston we have a problem…” becomes applicable. Those words echoed around the world as people bowed and prayed to the neon gods they made. Let’s have a drum roll for two quotes in one 🙂
Thank you for a though provoking opinion
Thank you for that accurate and perfect response
Can I separate the two things: novel and tv adaptation- yes!
If I don’t like the source material should I advocate for it to be banned: no!
But let’s talk about specifics and nuances- since you focus on Mame- I want to talk about tone in the Love By Chance adaptation- I did think the brother selling Techno’s body to his friend and his friend was horrible. My issue was the director and producers/writers- playing the scene as light comedy. You want dark— baby lets do it- but portray it coursely- don’t make it cute.
For myself- I read and loved LBC source book. I thought the Tum story fit much better in TharnType and also could have been cut for LBC. So when I rewatched it- I just cut the scenes for myself. Not advocating it be censored for others.
You also mentioned the Together With Me series- which I found not great mostly due to my issues with acting (Farm, Phubet and Prof- I’m looking your way lol) I read the source material- which did dispense with the side couples. I stopped halfway through as Knock was slightly more appealing- but I found Korn toxic jealousy, rage and control. I again exercise my option to not go further- not for me.
One you didn’t mention in the article was He’s Coming to Me. Loved most of the series and decided to read the novel. Both leads were unappealing to me in the novel (Mes pedophile and Than was cruel). Also there was no suspense as to Mes’s past- which was a nice addition in the series.
Freedom is key- but I do think it is valid to criticize or discuss issues/problems/concerns. I think the problem is jumping from there to “I have the right to censor or ban this because I don’t think it is….blah blah blah.”
Nice article and a good topic:)
I totally agree with you. A lot of Mame’s books are geared towards shock value and it’s annoying that you have to wade through what you don’t want to see, for the bits you do. At the Same time books like “Breath” aren’t marketed the same way as “Accidentally in Love”. And people don’t see that when they jump on the bandwagon to “cancel”.
Some of her books are labeled R18 for a reason but those covers don’t appear in fan translations. There is a reason they aren’t internationally released.
Together with Me was not the best acting and the book version of “He’s Coming to Me” gave me the same weird vibes so I didn’t finish it.
That’s where some soft editing of changing of content makes the books more appealing as shows because they leave out the source materials moods all together.
I do wish Love By Chance 2 would move away from those topics
Can I just say that I love your analysis. It’s so thought provoking. I agree with you. Why do some people call out to cancel mature scenes? We as human beings are both aware of their implicit and explicit nature. Sometimes I wonder if they think that censoring or canceling will make us to not be interested. Well news flash, we as human beings always fear and want the unknown. It’s built in our DNA.
Wow! What more can be said? Love your analysis even though I’ve got to read it a couple more times to fully comprehend. Thought provoking to say this least.