Vietnam Culture and Cultural Human Rights
In the course of the reform policy, Vietnam has opened up to foreign countries and is therefore more subject to external cultural influences. At the same time, however, đổi mới has strengthened or even revived local traditions. This development is in part targeted by the Vietnamese state.
The limits of state cultural policy were clearly evident in some of the cultural events that took place in Vietnam in 2010 as part of the Year of Germany.
The Vietnamese language is a tonal language with six meaningful tones. The Vietnamese national script quốc ngữ is a Latinized script with diacritical marks. It was developed by missionaries as early as the 17th century, but did not gain acceptance until the French colonial era. A number of French loanwords were also adopted during the colonial era and are still used today.
According to neovideogames, Vietnamese literature has a long tradition. As in other areas of culture, however, interesting developments have taken place in recent years due to a more liberal cultural policy. During the war, most (North) Vietnamese writers still felt obliged to the model of socialist realism and extolled the heroic struggle of the Vietnamese people against the US aggressors. The novel “The Sufferings of War” by Bao Ninh, published after 1986 and translated into German, is quite different: here the war is described from the perspective of a disaffected veteran.
Since the beginning of the reform policy, new forms of popular culture such as comics for adults have found their way, but have to deal with the censorship of government agencies.
The Vietnamese film looks back on a long history. When, after the opening of the country, massive amounts of foreign video films poured into the country and government subsidies were drastically reduced, the Vietnamese film industry was plunged into a crisis. In recent years, however, a positive trend has emerged again: Although fewer films are being produced, Vietnamese film directors are benefiting from the new freedom. For example, Vietnamese films, which present a whole new view of war, were discovered at the 2001 Berlinale. One of the outstanding directors of modern Vietnamese film is Dang Nhat Minh. Meanwhile, “social evils” like prostitution and drug use are being discussed in Vietnamese films – in a quite revealing way by Vietnamese standards, as in the film Bad Girls, which became a box-office hit. Independent Vietnamese documentary filmmakers are now also addressing social problems. But you are always in danger of coming into conflict with state censorship.
Vietnamese enjoy listening to and making music. During the war in North Vietnam only allows the so-called “red music” (nhac do) that in the eyes of the Hanoi Culture guards strengthened the morale of the population. Romantic and less martial songs were classified as whiny “yellow music” (nhac vang) and were banned. Musicians who tried to subvert this rigid cultural policy were partly sentenced to long prison terms.
The songs of perhaps the most popular Vietnamese composer, Trinh Cong Son (1939-2001), whose songs were already known in South Vietnam before 1975, were also not allowed to be played in the first years after the end of the war. Typical are, for example, his songs “Bien nho” (The Sea of Longing) and ” Nho mua thu Ha Noi ” (Longing for autumn in Hanoi), which, like many other Vietnamese songs, are about love and homesickness.
In the course of the reform policy and the opening up of the country, “yellow music” has experienced an upswing in Vietnam – for example (aging) singers like Tuan Ngoc, who were known in South Vietnam before 1975 and then fled abroad, for several years back in Vietnam. In the meantime, however, a new generation of singers has emerged who, like Duc Phuc or Hoa Minzy, address sensitive social or historical topics such as homosexual love or the love life of the last Vietnamese emperor Bao Dai in music videos that are very popular in East Asia. Many of the singers in Vietnam wear the áo dài who have favourited Vietnamese national costume.
Traditional Vietnamese musical instruments are used, for example, to accompany water puppet shows. This specific Vietnamese form of theater originated in the Red River Delta and is still practiced in some villages. There is also a wide variety of performing arts in Vietnam.
In Vietnam there are traditional forms of painting such as the woodcuts from Dong Ho, a village in Bac Ninh Province near Hanoi.
The origin of modern Vietnamese painting goes back only about 70 years. Bui Xuan Phai is considered one of the most influential elderly Vietnamese painters. His pictures of old Hanoi in particular became famous and are widely copied. The sale of pictures by Bui Xuan Phai and younger Vietnamese painters stands for the emergence of an art market and a “cultural scene” that uses the new open spaces.
A prominent example is “Zone 9”, a former factory building in Hanoi that has been converted into a center for exhibitions and studios.
The case of the collection of cartoons by Nguyen Thanh Phong, which depicts illustrations of slangs and altered Vietnamese idioms and proverbs, shows that limits are quickly reached in art too. Some of these drawings and slang expressions obviously went too far for the authorities: since the beginning of November 2011 the book has not been allowed to be sold.
Propaganda posters have a long tradition in Vietnam. Many Vietnamese artists took part in the fight against the coronavirus with propaganda posters in 2020.