Tuesday, October 22 2019

VietNamNews

Armed forces on the screen

Update: September, 21/2019 - 08:11

 

 

Lt Col Dương Văn Toàn. Photo nhandan.com.vn

 

As the reality show "Beauty in Action" climbs to a leading position in Việt Nam’s reality TV scene, its scriptwriter – Lt Col Dương Văn Toàn from the Ministry of Public Security of Việt Nam – speaks to Nhân Dân Cuối Tuần (The People Weekend edition) on bringing the image of police officers closer to the public.

 

Inner Sanctum: Was "Beauty in Action" born out of the need to catch up with the reality show "Stars Enlisted" of the Việt Nam People's Army?

Not really. The main purpose of writing is to diversify reality shows in Việt Nam, keeping them entertaining but also adding elements distinctive of the armed forces. All I thought about when writing it was how to create a good show, not making political or social statements. You might have noticed we have reality shows about almost all professions and walks of life in Việt Nam, except the police force.

Inner Sanctum: Is it because the public thinks it’s not suitable for police officers to go on TV because of their occupation?

It’s true that the principles we must follow and the nature of our job make us sometimes seem rigid and distant from the public. But I think everything can be adjusted, the question is how. Producers are often afraid (of doing reality shows on police) because they haven’t found approaches that can make them more interesting. Beauty in Action is one of those approaches, exploring an ‘undiscovered area’ of our job.

Inner Sanctum: Will being on reality TV shows distort the image of soldier and police officers?

We have received positive and negative feedback from audiences. Some wondered whether our portrayal of soldiers was truthful. Picky viewers said we had ‘normalised’ them and not taken them seriously. From my point of view, we have been idolising soldiers and police officers for so long. On the one hand that can be good, but on the other hand it can create prejudices. Modern TV audiences are smart. They have had a taste of everything there is on reality shows: the new, the sensational, the copycat, the boring. They know good stuff when they see it. It’s very difficult to create a show that pleases everybody. So we are always happy to receive feedback. But I want to say even though there might have been some unwanted errors on the show, it was never our intention to smear our officers or distort their images.

Inner Sanctum: What were the reactions of those who work in the police force?

We’d had a lot of trouble at the beginning of production. The force follow very strict principles and we had to try very hard to explain the project and ask for permission to film on drill grounds. Several officers had declined our invitations to collaborate when knowing we were doing a reality show. Those who agreed to participate still had to get permission from higher level officers. One almost did not make it when the shooting date was drawing close and they still had not received permission from their bosses. A lot of them were suspicious of the show since they could not picture what it was going to be like. But after the first two episodes aired, my colleagues said the officers they worked with in other provinces were very excited to see the show. And they will be happy to take part if we make another season.

Inner Sanctum: There have been prejudices that reality game shows are often “scandalous”, “sensational” or “useless”. Do you feel pressure because of that?

Reality TV in Việt Nam has exhausted formats like talent shows and dating games, so it’s true that producers have been looking for new approaches like creating spin-offs and scandals and do other things to boost ratings. This leaves a negative impression on viewers, bores them, and makes them think reality shows always go with something bad. But actually reality shows are not meant to be only entertaining but also woven with life skills, with educational purposes. I think we need a better perspective on reality TV, and Beauty in Action and Stars Enlisted are giving us the opportunity to do that.

Inner Sanctum: Can reality TV remain intriguing without scandals?

Reality TV is not meant to be scandalous. If it is a race of who can create more scandals then our shows about soldiers and police are never going to win. But we’ve got our unique points. Like I said, we’ve got reality shows about almost everyone except the police. Stars Enlisted is the only one show about the army. So the armed forces are still a potential, intriguing area to explore.  

Inner Sanctum: What is your opinion on the armed forces being a subject of entertainment?

We have got a lot of literary works written about soldiers. But in the entertainment field, they are still being portrayed in a one-sided approach that lacks interactivity. The majority of TV shows about soldiers only focuses on specialised features like cracking criminal cases, crime investigation or fighting crime, forgetting that they can be portrayed in a broader, more cultural sense.

I hope Beauty in Action will lay a foundation for a more diverse and intriguing scene of entertainment shows about the police and armed forces, which will help bring them closer to the public. VNS


GLOSSARY

As the reality show "Beauty in Action" climbs to a leading position in Việt Nam’s reality TV scene, its scriptwriter – Lt Col Dương Văn Toàn from the Ministry of Public Security of Việt Nam – speaks to Nhân Dân Cuối Tuần (The People Weekend edition) on bringing the image of police officers closer to the public.

A reality show is a movie in which viewers watch people in real life.

The main purpose of writing is to diversify reality shows in Việt Nam, keeping them entertaining but also adding elements distinctive of the armed forces.

To diversify reality shows means to make them different to one another.

Entertaining means “offering fun”.

Elements are things that make up something bigger.

Elements that are distinctive of the armed forces are things that happen in the armed forces and few other places, or no other places.

You might have noticed we have reality shows about almost all professions and walks of life in Việt Nam, except the police force.

Professions are types of work for which people need a lot in the way of skills and education to perform.

Different walks of life are the different ways people live. It may relate to their culture, their religion, their career, their wealth, the nationality or a number of other things.

It’s true that the principles we must follow and the nature of our job make us sometimes seem rigid and distant from the public.

Principles are values.

Rigid means firm and not changing.

Distant means “far away”.

But I think everything can be adjusted, the question is how.

Adjusted means “changed to fit”.

Producers are often afraid (of doing reality shows on police) because they haven’t found approaches that can make them more interesting. Beauty in Action is one of those approaches, exploring an ‘undiscovered area’ of our job.

Approaches are ways of doing things.

Will being on reality TV shows distort the image of soldier and police officers?

To distort means to change something in order to make it misleading.

Image, in this case, means what people think.

Some wondered whether our portrayal of soldiers was truthful.

A portrayal of soldiers is how they are shown to appear.

Picky viewers said we had ‘normalised’ them and not taken them seriously.

Picky means fussy.

From my point of view, we have been idolising soldiers and police officers for so long.

Idolising officers means thinking of them as if they are heroes.

On the one hand that can be good, but on the other hand it can create prejudices.

If you have a prejudice against something, you think poorly of it before you even inform yourself properly about it.

They have had a taste of everything there is on reality shows: the new, the sensational, the copycat, the boring.

Sensational means dramatic.

So we are always happy to receive feedback.

Feedback means hearing what people think of something that you produce.

But I want to say even though there might have been some unwanted errors on the show, it was never our intention to smear our officers or distort their images.

Errors are mistakes.

If you have an intention to do something, you plan to do it.

The force follow very strict principles and we had to try very hard to explain the project and ask for permission to film on drill grounds.

Drill grounds are areas where soldiers march.

Several officers had declined our invitations to collaborate when knowing we were doing a reality show.

To decline an invitation means to turn it down.

To collaborate means “work together”.

A lot of them were suspicious of the show since they could not picture what it was going to be like.

If people are suspicious of the show, they think it has bad intentions.

But after the first two episodes aired, my colleagues said the officers they worked with in other provinces were very excited to see the show.

One screening of a series is an episode.

If an episode is aired, it appears on television.

Reality TV in Việt Nam has exhausted formats like talent shows and dating games, so it’s true that producers have been looking for new approaches like creating spin-offs and scandals and do other things to boost ratings.

Exhausted means “become tired”.

Formats are ways in which things are arranged.

Talent means natural skill.

Can reality TV remain intriguing without scandals?

Intriguing means fascinating.

But we’ve got our unique points.

If something is unique there is only one of it in the whole. If a person has unique points, few or no other people have those points.

But in the entertainment field, they are still being portrayed in a one-sided approach that lacks interactivity.

Interactivity happens when people in the audience communicating with actors.

I hope Beauty in Action will lay a foundation for a more diverse and intriguing scene of entertainment shows about the police and armed forces, which will help bring them closer to the public.

A foundation is the basis on which something is built.

Diverse means “with differences”.

WORKSHEET

Find words that mean the following in the Word Search:

  1. A force that keeps law and order.
  2. People who fight wars.
  3. Not positive.
  4. A tall type of plant.
  5. A quick way of writing “television”.

 

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ANSWERS: 1. Police; 2. Soldiers; 3. Negative; 4. Tree; 5. TV.

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