Pop Culture, Celebritydom & Fandom: How Social Media Strategy Changed the Face of Thailand’s 2023 General Election
THAILAND STUDIES PROGRAMME
About the Webinar
Pita Limjaroenrat, the leader and prime ministerial candidate of the Move Forward Party, boasts an Instagram following that surpasses that of many of Thailand’s biggest pop stars. Paetongtarn Shinawatra promoted Choc Mint all over the media. Party leaders did their best imitation of K-pop stars in Tiktok dance videos. Even General Prawit Wongsuwan sported a Gucci bomber jacket and Adidas sneakers to endear himself to voters.
In the context of digital-age elections, it is no longer enough for candidates to display political vision; becoming a pop-culture celebrity is now a must. Voters can change their minds, but fandom never dies. This Fanocracy phenomenon is more powerful than traditional political campaign methods. The emergence of celebritydom and fandom has changed the face of Thailand’s General Election, with Move Forward leading this transformation. Notably, its leader Pita has soared to a celebrity status that transcends the confines of politics—any criticism directed at Pita or his party can turn X (formerly known as Twitter) into a virtual war zone.
This webinar explores the transformation of figures like Pita into the protagonists of a fictional narrative. It sheds light on how Move Forward has evolved beyond its origin as a youth movement-based party into a nationwide fever that evokes powerful sentiments, whether positive or negative. This transcendence of politics into pop culture, where celebritydom and fandom become the new triumph of political imagination, signifies a profound shift in democratic participation and political engagement in Thailand.
About the Speaker
Alexandra Colombier is a French Social Science researcher, specializing in political communication, digital media, social groups and identities in Thailand. She holds a Master’s Degree in Political and Cultural Sociology from the Institute of Political Studies from the University of Toulouse (France). She’s currently a PhD student at the University of Le Havre (Normandy).
This webinar will be delivered online entirely. You can join the webinar at the specified date and time using devices (computer, phone, or tablet) with internet connection.
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If you have questions for the speakers, please key in your questions via the Q&A, stating your name and affiliation. The moderator will field them to the speakers during the Q&A session.