Opinions shared through video blogs

Update: October, 13/2014 - 10:23
Speaking out: An Nguy, a popular vlogger, discusses about the current opinion of young people about beauty. — Photo

by Minh Thu

Video blogs (vlog) reflect-ing the maker's take on various social and cultural issues are now a popular draw among Vietnamese youth.

Vlogs apparently allow them to express concerns and opinions on how to win a girl's heart, what boys want from their girlfriends, whether or not it is okay to have sex before marriage and what to do when you fail university's entrance exam.

Several vlogs go further and deal with serious problems like discrimination, opening up a public discourse on such topics in ways that mainstream media cannot match.

It is generally accepted that Duhocsinhmy, whose real name is Nguyen Le Hung, a Vietnamese student in the US, got the vlog ball rolling in Viet Nam three years ago with a video titled So You Think You're Good at English.

Humourously, Hung tells Vietnamese youth that they are not good at English if they focus solely on grammar and study the language without practising it.

Hung pokes fun at himself to make his point, saying that he thought his English was good until he moved to the US and had to speak it as part of his daily life. He says someone can only be considered a good English speaker, if he/she can court a girl and ask foreigners for money in English.

The vlog was a hit among Vietnamese citizens and set off a trend in the wake of which several vloggers have made a name for themselves, like Tran Duc Viet (widely known as JVevermind), Tran Vu Toan (Toan Shinoda), Nguy Thien An (An Nguy), Le Duc Anh (Mr Big) and Pham Cong Thanh (Huyme Productions).

These vloggers have succeeded in having millions watch the videos they upload on YouTube.

No rules

Anh said vlogs have been popular in foreign countries for a long time, but it's a relatively new phenomenon in Viet Nam.

His own vlogs are getting more and more popular and the popularity and number of new bloggers are increasing everyday as well, he said.

Explaining their popularity, he said: "Vlogs are a form of expression without rules and there is no right or wrong way to do it, only personal ideas.

"It's all about the courage you have to voice your opinion.

"As a person with strong opinions, I want to use vlogs to express my ideas and opinions and to share my experiences with others."

Since it is a personal platform, vloggers use different styles and methods to express themselves.

In the most "traditional" style, they sit in front of the camera and simply talk about their feelings and opinions about particular issues in a very personal way, often employing humour.

There are some who don't simply sit and speak like presenters on newscasts. They put on a mono act, playing different characters. Music, sound and other props are also used to make the vlogs more interesting and popular.

Vlogs can also turn into short films or documentaries.

Although he is a businessman, Anh has always dreamt of being an actor and filmmaker. Vlogs help him indulge in his passion and realise his dream, at least partially.

Anh sees vlogging as a "fair and healthy playing ground for young people".

He explains: "Through vlogs, they practise their speaking skills and other soft skills. When they publish a vlog, they are ready for the public's response, whether it is praise or criticism. They learn how to defend their opinion and debate issues in a positive way."

One "disadvantage" of vlogs, Anh feels, is the "bad" words.

"Although some vloggers use dirty language to express and emphasise their opinion, not insult anybody, young audience may copy that language," he says.

In what can be construed as the next step in the development of vlogging, vloggers are now coming together to improve the quality of their vlogs and build a social network for themselves.

Ngo Nhat Thang, founder of the Vlogplus Company, says he set his firm up with the aim of building a "healthy community" for vloggers where newcomers can receive support in finding ideas, making videos and sharing them.

"Vloggers now can be compared with other celebrities in the fields of fashion, movie and music," Thang said, adding, "They have a large fan following and exert significant influence on the community."

Thang said that internationally, famous vloggers typically focus on particular issues or topics. Pew Die Pie, for instance, comments on games, and Michelle Phan offers make-up guidance.

Anh said he is working with Vlogplus to set up vlog channels, with each channel focusing on one issue, for instance, on learning English or tutoring for exams or sports.

Recently, Vlogplus and Anh co-operated to produce a 40-minute film called Call Me Your Teacher starring popular young actors and actresses like Minh Hang and Binh An, rapper Mr T., and vlogger Huyme.

The film, a moving story about the relationship between a teacher and his unruly students, drew millions of views.

In only his second film, Anh has shown that a vlogger can realise dreams and aspirations that transcend vlogging. — VNS