Thai propaganda film (literally) paints Hitler in a virtuous light

Raffi Wineburg

In Thailand, a new video promoting the 12 “core values” that all Thai children should learn extols virtues that transcend nationality: friendship, honesty and respect.

The film relays important messages for all children, except, of course, for the part about Hitler.

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The short propaganda video commissioned by the country’s military rulers follows two children through a day as they learn about life and loyalty. But in a confounding scene less than a minute in, one of the boys stands proudly in front of a painting of Hitler while his friend steps back admiringly and gives him a round of applause.

The video had been screened in major Thai cinemas since Saturday and has prompted backlash from a variety of sources. Simon Roded, Israel’s ambassador to Thailand said he was “deeply saddened” by the “trivialization and misuse of Nazi symbols in an official Thai movie.”

On Wednesday, Panadda Diskul, a senior official in the prime minister’s office, told The Associated Press that the whole thing was a “misunderstanding,” and that in the scene, the boy shown painting Hitler was actually comparing his mother to the dictator — a type of adolescent mockery.

Diskul’s explanation falls somewhere between nonsense and balderdash. The film doesn’t have subtitles for foreign language viewers, but then, it doesn’t have dialogue either. Even the most astute movie critic can’t pick up on a nonexistent theme. Moreover, what kind of value does comparing your mother to Hitler promote?

Nevertheless, Diskul has vowed to have the scene removed.

“The film is good, but it has caused a slight misunderstanding in our society,” he told the AP. “We won’t stop the project, but we will replace that problematic picture with another, more proper one.”

Here’s a look at the original version because, you know, it’s still “good.”