Tidbits of the region’s media in Himal Southasian Magazine: Bhutanese film and squelching creativity

This column in Himal Southasian Magazinedetail recent wackiness in media regulations throughout the Southeast Asian region, but I’ll just post here what was written about Bhutan:

“…. in a bid to preserve culture and promote tradition, the Bhutanese government has asked its filmmakers to stop being creative. Recently, the Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA) outlined a Filming Guidelines and Code of Practice for the Bhutanese movie industry. Among the 11 do’s and don’ts, filmmakers can no longer feature characters who speak increasingly popular Dzonglish (Dzongkha interspersed with English words) and wear ‘non-national dress’ in public. Furthermore, scenes with excessive violence, including depicting rape, are not to be shown. New films will also have to feature at least two bits of ‘traditional music’, whether it suits the story or not.

Predictably, the Motion Picture Association of Bhutan (MPAB) is unhappy with the new rules, and has asked the BICMA for revisions. In CP’s views, though, ‘revisions’ wouldn’t go nearly far enough. Wanting to promote an idyllic Bhutan is one thing, but slaughtering creativity in the name of homogeneity is, quite simply, unforgivable. The rules need to be put in the trash. It’s about time that the Bhutanese government realised that the country’s much-touted ‘happiness index’ cannot be larded with imagined happiness……”

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