Thais angered by Saturday Night Live's language of love

BANGKOK Mon Feb 4, 2013 6:49am EST

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BANGKOK (Reuters) - A U.S. comedy skit that makes fun of Thailand's booming sex industry has angered the government and it is trying to block videos of the sketch on the Internet, the Thai culture minister said on Monday.

The skit on the Saturday Night Live program is a parody of an advertisement for a Thai-language course by the Rosetta Stone company, which shows men surreptitiously learning phrases for use in Thailand's notorious night-life, such as: "Take your clothes off."

Culture Minister Sonthaya Kunploem was not amused.

"The sketch misrepresents Thailand and its people," Sonthaya told Reuters. "We're working with the Foreign Ministry to let the U.S. know it is offensive and we have asked our information ministry to remove the clip."

Predominantly Buddhist Thailand is deeply conservative despite its vibrant sex industry, and its censors often target nudity on television and in print. Prostitution is illegal though widespread.

In the comedy skit, men can use the language course to practice phrases such as "How much?" and "Is that for the whole night?"

One embarrassed character insists he's learning Thai for business, only to hide his head in shame.

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.

(Reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Robert Birsel and Alan Raybould)

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