SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN THAI SOAP OPERA: A CASE OF SAWAN BIENG (TWISTED HEAVEN)SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN THAI SOAP OPERA: A CASE OF SAWAN BIENG (TWISTED HEAVEN)
Soap opera has been a very famous type of home entertainment in Thailand. As one of the highly successful soap operas, being produced and broadcasted several times, Twisted Heaven or Sawan Bieng presents both romance and sexual violence in its content. This study aims to examine how Thai audiences interpret the meaning of love in plot, characters’ behaviors, and particularly the violent love scenes of Sawan Bieng. A mixed research method was conducted by using the content analysis of five Thai popular websites and in-depth interviews of eight Thai viewers. The data analyses revealed three major findings. First, TV production elements provided the important information for audiences to accept the hero’s sexual violence. Second, the sexual violence or rape in Sawan Bieng is one of the audiences’ expectation in romance story as Radway (1984) mentioned. Third, the application of the Social Learning Theory appears to have no violent effect. The hero and heroine have been popular role models for teenagers. The audiences not only sympathized with the hero who took responsibility for his sexual violence, but also hailed the heroine as superb role model for her tolerance, forgiveness, and generosity.