Saturday Night Live Learning Thai with Rossetta Stone the Next Thai Protest?

Thai Protests: Will the Learning Thai with Rossetta Stone Spoof be Next?

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Learning Thai with Rosetta Stone spoof…

Recently in the news Thais protested about Buddha artwork on public toilets in the Netherlands. Result? The Dutch apologised for the Buddha toilet images and promised to take them down.

Shortly after that, this IKEA ad offended Transgenders in Thailand. I’m still waiting to see how that one turns out.

Then, only this morning, I received a lighthearted email from Benjawan Becker of Paiboon Publishing. In it she shared a YouTube vidoe featuring a Saturday Night Live spoof on learning Thai with Rossetta Stone.

EDIT: The video keeps getting taken off YouTube and put back up again. If it doesn’t show up below, it remains on Rosetta Stone. From YouTube sometimes I get a, “We’re sorry, but the clip you selected isn’t available from your location. Please select another clip”. It’s also on Hulu but again, “Sorry, currently our video library can only be watched from within the United States”.

As I’m doing a major check to make sure all videos on my site are still valid, here you go, once again.


For those who aren’t quite sure what a spoof is, here you go: spoof [spoof] noun
1. a mocking imitation of someone or something, usually light and good-humored; lampoon or parody: The show was a spoof of college life.

The joke focuses on male tourists preparing for trips to Thailand. But will this spoof on learning Thai become the focus of the next Thai protest?

PLEASE NOTE: snarly comments will be deleted.

43 thoughts on “Saturday Night Live Learning Thai with Rossetta Stone the Next Thai Protest?”

  1. Tim, “I am aware that a number of Thais behave in private not unlike the Westerners portrayed here. Maybe the point hits home with them and makes them feel uncomfortable” … that is so very true. It’s all about face (what face Thailand shows the world).

  2. I live in Thailand, and yet I can now view this video on YouTube [October 2014]. I think it is very funny! It is mocking Westerners, not Thais. So should not be a problem. But I know far more Thais than Westerners now, and I am aware that a number of Thais behave in private not unlike the Westerners portrayed here. Maybe the point hits home with them and makes them feel uncomfortable as Thais don’t like to mention ‘unpleasant things’ so would prefer to pretend it does not exist! Therefore, don’t ever mention it!

    I have to say I love living in Thailand, and I love the Thai people! I hear laughter and singing around me every day, and see smiles from them daily too! That’s even better than having sunshine every day!

  3. Definitely funny. It’s America humor. The creepy shadow character asking for the American Embassy was so funny. I’m a Thai – American who goes back to Thailand every year for vacation.

  4. Thai Culture Minister slams SNL ‘Rosetta Stone’ sketch

    And by [moaning] complaining to the US Embassy, it reveals the misguided conception by Thai officials that foreign officials can wield the same influence in their country as they do (or like to think they still can) here in Thailand, as the recent controversy over a cancelled soap opera and rumors about political interference has shown.

  5. It has been reposted here:

    You know what I find far more disturbing than prostitution?
    The way that Thais are beginning to sound more and more like Islamic extremists whenever anyone criticizes Bhuddism or Thailand.
    This whole things reminds me of the Innocence of Muslims incident.

  6. Had the Ministry of Culture or Thailand let this slide by w/out making much ado about nothing, this video wouldn’t be going viral like it is now.

    As far as the Thai forums comments about the video, well Thais have very clearly defined sense as far as things they can mock, deride, denigrate; Cambodians, Laotians, Burmese, their darker skinned Isaan brethren, etc. Conversely, they also have almost no tolerance for having someone do the same to them.

    There are quite a few re-uploads of the clip on You Tube and there is no problem finding it on other video sites too.

    I think the not so news worthy news that You Tube pulled the video which the Thai TV networks are touting is just smoke being blown up the a**es of the Thai public in an effort to show that Thailand made the evil Americans bow to their demands. Sheesh, I don’t think they have even turned in a formal complaint thru government channels yet.

    Any way you slice it, fluff news like this takes the spot light away from the very real and pressing problems facing Thailand.

  7. Nation: Spoof on Thailand removed from YouTube

    YouTube has removed the “Rosetta Stone Thai” spoof video clip produced by US late-night TV show’s “Saturday Night Live” that portrays Thailand in a negative light, mocking the country as a destination for sex tourists.

    Apinand Poshaya-nond, deputy permanent secretary for culture, has confirmed the removal yesterday.

    It’s here: Adam Levine – Rosetta Stone Thai Sketch – Saturday Night Live

  8. Bangkok Post: Government to demand takedown of sex-trade spoof

    Culture Minister Sonthaya Khunploem said Monday the Culture Watch Centre is working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to remove the video. The government will also tell the US Embassy the spoof is tarnishing Thailand’s image and will ask it to explain this to Saturday Night Live’s producer, he said.

    EDIT: no longer online ….
    Bangkok Post: Kamnan Poh transferred to VIP room in hospital (spends barely 10min at jail)

    Convicted murdered and former fugitive Somchai Khunploem was taken to a VIP room in Chon Buri Hospital yesterday only minutes after being transferred to Chon Buri prison from Bangkok.

    The former “Godfather of Chon Buri” was moved from the Corrections Department hospital in Bangkok to Chon Buri prison yesterday morning, reports said.

    His son, Culture Minister Sonthaya Khunploem, made the transfer request to the director-general of the department, who approved it.

  9. Independent: Video: Saturday Night Live skit on Thailand’s sex industry angers Government (no longer online)

    The comedy show on the NBC network came in for lots of criticism on Internet forums but some Thais said authorities had to face the facts.

    “The government is simply trying to close its eyes and ignore the problem,” Thanachai Chomchurnjai said in one Internet chatroom, referring to prostitution.

  10. Breath of fresh air…

    GlobalPost: Thai government aghast at SNL’s “Rosetta Stone” sketch

    I shouldn’t know about this video. I stopped watching SNL in eighth grade. But thanks to Thailand’s stuffy Ministry of Culture — forever at war with those who might darken Thailand’s image — the video is circulating through Thai social media and the Thai-language press.

    The ministry is aghast that the video depicts Thailand as “a source for sexual services,” the TV outlet Thai PBS reports. And as Thailand’s largest newspaper (Thai Rath) reports, the ministry plans to file a complaint with the U.S. embassy with hopes that the American government will rid this sketch from the Web.

  11. Bangkok Post: Govt wants Youtube sex spoof removed

    Culture Minister Sonthaya Khunploem said on Monday that the Culture Watch Centre is working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in an effort to have the video removed from the world’s most popular video sharing website.

    The government will also inform the United States embassy that the commercial spoof is tarnishing Thailand’s image and will ask the embassy to explain the situation to the producer of Saturday Night Live, Mr Sonthaya said.

  12. I want to thank everyone for keeping to a level-headed conversation (in comparison to a nasty free-for-all, like what happened in the comments of the YouTube video).

    Clearheaded discussions are useful in understanding how different people perceive life, culture, etc.

  13. I heard on this morning’s Rise and Shine Thailand, (the news program on the IN channel, 90 on True Visions) the Ministry of Culture is going to lodge an “official protest” about the video.

    They played almost the entire vid on the news, although the sound was muted.

    Much ado about nothing really.

  14. ntizen, you’ll have to ask SNL…

    I have my opinion, obviously. The spoof was done in fun (as all SNL spoofs are). The nasty comments must have come at a huge surprise to SNL. In response, Thailand is no longer allowed to watch their videos.

  15. Kris, I can imagine how frustrating it must be for western guys with Thai wives or girlfriends, as well as their children (who have to grow up knowing that a part of the world has this perception of their country). More than a few my Thai girlfriends feel awful about it and I do feel for them. But they aren’t the only ones who’s country has a bad international image…

    The first time I heard about sexpats and prostitution was from a Thai teacher I was interviewing in Brunei. She came right out and explained that she was not a prostitute. Being clueless, I was… taken aback a fair bit. Shocked? Except for a Thai cooking teacher, the Thais I knew personally were mostly dedicated students studying for their higher degrees. My admiration for how they tackled their studies under a difficult situation was one of the reasons I moved here.

    Thing is, no one I know feels any strong need to change how things are in Thailand (enough to do something anyway), so the perception will not change either. In the internet age, things such as this can’t easily be hidden away (like before). It is what it is… and looks like we are stuck with it.

  16. I thought it was funny but I don’t like it. The reason I don’t like it is that reinforces the stereotypes about the men living in Thailand.
    Today I was walking around in the city and I met a couple from Udonthani. I started talking to them and one of the first questions they asked me is how many million baht the house costed that I bought (for my wife). I told them the truth – my wife’s mother paid for the house I live in and gave it to us. That didn’t seem to believe that because I didn’t comply with the stereotype of the rich farang buying a villa for a poor girl.
    These stereotypes that exist with both farang and Thai people might be funny, but sometimes they also make you feel bad.
    All men married to Thai women know that a relatively big percentage of the Westerners believes that their wife is a hooker or a poor girl that married with you for money. It’s not exactly something to be happy about and this kind of commercial won’t help much.

  17. Rick, when I poked around reviews of SLT shows I did come across comments from people who just don’t like this type of humour. From their names (and in one instance a face accompanied the comment), I believe they were all westerners.

    Thais have an added difficulty with this type of humour pointed at their country because some (most?) see Thailand in the same light as Buddhism, monks, the ruling family, and books even (at one point most books in Thailand were found in Wats).

    If you read down through the comments in the video, you’ll find Thais contributing with various opinions, and not just in protest. Some are confused and believe the ad is real and want to boycott Rosetta Stone (hilarious, because Thailand has been ripping off RS for years – you can get copies for peanuts at Pantip), others can only see the negative connection to Thailand, and a growing number are telling their countrymen to lighten up (while at the same time, understanding the difficulty).

  18. I can’t imagine anyone getting upset about this except humorless drones who take themselves too seriously.

    Then again, there are plenty of those about these days…..

  19. Keith: Something like that, yes.

    I thought this was hilarious! But the comments on YouTube were about what I have come to expect from comments on YouTube …

  20. That is a riot. Too bad Rosetta Stone dropped Thai, though. Had they updated it to the newer format, it could have been interesting.

    I couldn’t quite catch the Thai from the scene around the 50 second mark where the guy is learning Thai while his wife is asleep. Something like ถอดเสื้อผ้าของคุณออกไหม I think.

  21. Of course people who seem to be perpetually offended will be offended, but the skit was funny.

    Putting aside the fact the real Rosetta Stone was hands down the worst method (by far) I’ve ever seen for learning Thai, there is a point to be made. Guys who are truly interested in meeting a non-bargirl type Thai woman for a long-term relationship would be well-served by learning Thai. Not just a few rudimentary tourist-phrases like KUN SOY MAK MAK (uggh), but really learning it. It’s impossible to understate (beyond the obvious) the benefits.

  22. Any way you look at it, that sketch was just plain FUNNY!!

    It kinda reminds me of a t-shirt I had made up a long time ago which says;
    “NOT a sex tourist; I live here..” <-(please note: I rarely wear that shirt anymore, it was a little too coarse for even me!!).

    Cat, if that was too snarly, feel free to delete it ;P

  23. Lani, the credit goes to Benjawan. She emailed “hilarious!” so I just had to go peek (never did get my shopping done).

    Martyn, there is a lot of truth in it (how many times have we seen those very same characters in Thailand?) I’m so glad to hear that you’ve recovered! Dengue fever is a real bugger.

    Keith, I hear a lot of guys are getting flack over coming to Thailand. Some have Thai wives and are fed up with the eyebrow raising, etc, going on. When I’m in line at immigration I do check out who’s coming into the country – can’t help it (some do stick out).

    Dan, you hit it spot on. It’s a spoof about expat men so feel free to be outraged! lol…

    Liam, I do know Thais who were upset at first, but after talking it out they realise it’s about western men.

    I emailed Bon to see if she’d consider doing a spoof of the spoof. If anyone can pull it off she can.

  24. I googled “Adam Levine – Rosetta Stone Sketch Saturday Night Live” and there are pages and pages of sites talking about the SNL show.

    One review that stood out was at Perfection. I will never be able to watch a real Rosetta Stone ad without thinking of “Ultra Small Condoms” and Thai hookers.

    I’m told Rosetta Stone no longer supports their Thai version so that takes care of that (or part of that, anyway).

  25. I can’t see Thais getting upset about it because it really isn’t about Thais, it’s about the farang that visit here, and it just reinforces the stereotypes that many Thais already have about western men. The only people that should get upset are the guys that are genuinely learning Thai “for business”. I still thought it was funny though.

  26. As a middle-aged white man in Thailand, I’m outraged, do you hear!? Outraged! Actually, it’s very good precisely because there’s so much truth to the stereotype.

  27. A really funny spoof ad. But I can see how it could give rise to some complaints. The problem of stereotyping is a serious one, I sometimes worry what people are thinking when I am checking in for a flight to Thailand – a 60+ widowed single man, or when I talk to people about my learning Thai. Are they seeing me or the stereotype? This works both ways, of course, and if I were a Thai national I would probably be fairly angry about the ad.

  28. Catherine – I’m convinced there’s a lot of truth in the spoof video. It’s not often I watch videos (eats my monthly package) but I couldn’t resist this one. A great find and very funny.

    I’m now over my bout of dengue fever and I’ll be out and about on the blog scene a lot more now.

  29. 5555555555555+ OMG I love it. I’m sharing, I’m sharing. Cat, you are so good at finding these things!!!!

  30. Hilarious, but I am certain this will spark an outrage among Thai netizens. Thai’s are absolutely unable to laugh about themselves.


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