How To Be Famous: Pop Culture News from Vietnam and the Diaspora (December 2013)

In an age of Western-dominated pop culture acts, how does a Vietnamese celebrity become famous in the international, pop culture scene? Eric Nguyen explores pop culture news from Vietnam and the Diaspora to demonstrate how these individuals from the Vietnamese community have responded to the challenge of breaking the mold.

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Tila Tequila in Nazi garb as posted on her Facebook page.

Tila Tequila disappeared from the limelight after her dating reality show A Shot of Love with Tila Tequilia, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been productive. Indeed, with all the time off from reality TV and modeling, she has discovered that she is in fact Queen of the End Times. Follow this logic chain for a second: Tila is a short form of Taleh or Talyah, which in Hebrew means Drew from Heaven or the Lamb of Yahweh. Yahweh in Hebrew is 26 and 2+6= 8, which is Tila’s path number. Tila has died 7 times (or so she claims). Also, her Vietnamese name, Thanh Thi Thien Nguyen, means “She Who Came From the Heavens.” Also, she was born under Venus. Also, she was born in Singapore, the Island of Lions. And of course of this all can only possible mean one thing: “the Queen who hath come to save you from this dark world filled with NWO parasite invaders”.

This, of course, comes along with recent posts where she threatens to blow up Los Angeles and various rants about how Hitler was actually a nice guy, how Jews are “feeble minded morons,” and a new song she’s recorded…about Nazism.

Thao & the Get Down Stay Down gets in trouble

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down (led by singer Thao Nguyen), recently caused a ruckus on the San Francisco Bay Bridge while filming the video for their newest single “The Feeling Kind.” The band originally had a permit to shoot the video, but “they wound up getting booted because their production was too distracting to drivers, causing a traffic backup.” Rubberneckers! The video was worth it though. This year, the band released their fifth album We the Common to much praise. Buzzfeed named it one of the “excellent records you might have missed in 2013.”


V-Pop singers, meanwhile, are seeking worldwide recognition. Thanh Nien News reports: “With Vietnam adapting many international singing contests over the past couple years, the audiences have expected their idols to get global recognition as well.” Tran Hai Chau, winner of the TV show The Winner Is recently signed a contract with Universal Music Group. Universal Music Group reports its efforts to “build a very strong musical team for its investment in the Vietnamese voice,” though in the past, language has been a barrier for any major success (and of course, we have to consider V-Pop subpar music production in the past as well. For instance, you don’t need to understand Vietnamese to know that Phương My’s “Nói Dối” is a terrible song).

V-Pop singer Hồ Quỳnh Hương is Asia’s Sexiest Vegetarian.

Which isn’t to say that world-wide success for V-Pop singers is an impossibility. Take, for instance, singer Hồ Quỳnh Hương who was crowned this year, by PETA Asia-Pacific, Asia’s Sexiest Vegetarian Woman, beating out Chinese singer-songwriter Faye Wong, Hawaiian actress Maggie Q (who is also of Vietnamese descent), and Filipina actress Chin Chin Gutierrez. Yes, you heard that right: with a strict vegetarian diet along with assimilation to the media’s standards of beauty, one day you too can be objectified: both in Vietnam and the United States!

Of course, racial stereotypes are not cool. Ask Diana Pho, who writes about her experience as a Vietnamese American woman at a comic convention here. Or watch the trailer to Hieu Tran’s new short film Squared (starring Ethan Le Phong) about stereotypes about Asian American men in the gay community. The film will premiere at FilmOut San Diego.

Ethan Le Phong challenges stereotypes of Asian American men in Hieu Tran’s ‘Squared.’

Whatever you do, just don’t lipsync: Decree 158 goes into effect January 1st in Vietnam. The law fines singers who wear “scanty outfits or culturally inappropriate costumes” and lip sycnc to their own songs. Good thing Britney Spears is planning on staying in Las Vegas in 2014!



Eric Nguyen has a degree in sociology from the University of Maryland along with a certificate in LGBT Studies. He is currently an MFA candidate at McNeese State University and lives in Louisiana.


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