Payut Ngaokrachang: cartoons for the United States Information Service

Payut Ngaokrachang: cartoons for USIS, Part 1, 24/01/2017, propagandainsoutheastasia

Payut Ngaokrachang was a Thai cartoonist who worked for most of his career with the United States Information Service (USIS). He was originally from a rural background, born in Wako, in the province of Prachuap Khiri Khan. In 1955 Payut created his first animated short film, Haed Mahasajan [The Miracle Incident] in which a traffic policeman causes a pile up due to some questionable dancing on the job. According to Jonathan Clements, Payut was subsequently spotted by USIS who awarded him roughly $400 and the opportunity to spend 6 months either at the Walt Disney Studios in California or Toei in Japan. He chose the later, meaning he was in many ways there at the very start of the Japanese anime industry. His time there resulted in his first (and as it happens last) propaganda film, completed in 1957.

Hanuman in Danger

Hanuman Phachoen Phai [Hanuman in danger], takes its principal character from the Ramayana, a classic Hindu epic that is also the basis for the classic Thai text the Ramakien. Hanuman, who is the God-King of the apes, was one of major characters who fought with Rama [Phra Ram] against the Devil King Ravana [Totsapak], and is therefore highly revered. In the propaganda film, Hanuman is depicted with a white face, and is based in the countryside. The film starts with him at home as his sons watch the television. They are watching a dancing competition, commenting on the prettiness of female dancer, when her partner the screen morphs from a handsome young man into a brutal looking dictator, who begins to spout what is supposed to be Communist ideology. He instructs the audience that they no longer need to respect their mothers, fathers, religion or King Rama [Phra Ram].

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