Vietnam’s government keeps cultural activities from web comics to concerts under its watchful eye, for sex as much as sedition. Art, music, pop stars, books, comics, web comics, blogs, foreign news, lifestyle magazines, television subtitles, newspaper articles, research, the findings of market research, unflattering film footage, photographs, song lyrics, religious events, religious books, tour guides’ scripts: all are censored and watched closely by authorities.
“Transparency International, Reporters Without Borders, Human Rights Watch, even Barack Obama, all decry Vietnam’s lack of freedom of speech.”
Once, artists had to submit sketches of their proposed paintings not only before they were given paint. These days things are less draconian but more uncertain. Galleries still need approval before exhibitions are allowed to go ahead; sometimes galleries simply won’t have an official exhibition party. As one art insider said, “there is no one rule.”
Inept or clever? Vietnam’s censors keep everyone guessing…