Yet another documentary about people in some ‘front line’ situation dealing with the rigours of their job is Bangkok Airport. This time the villains of the piece are Britpackers – a species displaying remarkable quantities of rudeness, stupidity and drunken yahoo-ness. The heroes of the piece are of course those tireless Thais keeping Suvarnabhumi Airport functioning.
I was expecting to hate this formulaic show about Thailand, but I couldn’t help find it compelling viewing. I have no doubt that the few Thais featured in each BBC Three show are hand-picked to dispel stereotypes about stern, xenophobic and blatantly corrupt airport officials. Instead we got Captain Jang from the tourist police. She spoke fairly good English and helped all and drunken sundry in a friendly and practical matter. She even managed a weak joke when she pulled out the extra blanket for foreigners forced to spend an extra night at the airport.
Did Not Bother To Check Her Bag
The show translated when the Thais spoke among themselves. In the show I saw they were spot on the money when they quietly mentioned that the stroppy young British woman in front of them who claimed to have lost her passport should have looked through her bags. The next morning the backpacker is interviewed again and sure enough she found her passport inside another book.
Tourists Not Doing Themselves Any Favours
One Brit really was the victim of theft and had lost his ticket and money. The police put their office at his disposal to let him buy a new ticket. He get provocatively upset when he discovers he can’t use some else’s credit card (because the airline needs to see it) and that no one at home is capable of buying a ticket online for him. He goes on and on about how stupid the rules are, rather than take the chances given to him. Eventually Capt. Jang suggests he buy a ticket with a debit card which doesn’t need to be produced at check in. The chap is fuming against Thailand when the viewer thinks what nice cops! He is an imbecile who manages to lose his boarding card at the lost moment. They rush through another one to make sure he really gets on that plane. And that is what this show seems to be about – steering ungrateful tourists onto their planes despite their best efforts to self-derail.
British People, Not Thai, Are The Stereotype
Here is the stereotype – the Brit. British tourists in Thailand are portrayed as a distant sub-species of Homo sapiens.
Captain Jack Steals The Show
They are not the only ones generating the comedy. Captain Jack in an immigration booth was hilarious, like someone from Ricky Gervais’s imagination. He told us at length in a slightly camp way how he loved his job. He loved the sound of the immigration stamp clunking on the passport. He especially loved meeting foreigners on honeymoon in Thailand. He then takes out his smart phone and shows the camera his video channel. We are treated to a video of him and his wife dancing and miming to a pop tune. His commentary:
“That’s me. That’s my wife. Me. My wife. Me. Me. My wife”
He then shows us him at the airport awards party dressed in black doing the Gangnam dance on stage. He tells the camera that his section head calls him “Gangnam”. He then goes on to say:
“Will he ever remember my name? No.”
I can’t wait for the next helping of Bangkok Airport that no doubt will feature transsexuals and more floundering young Britains.