by Le Van and An Vu
The airing by Viet Nam Television (VTV2), the national educational television channel, of a series for grown-ups has created an uproar among Vietnamese audiences in past weeks.
The controversy began with the scheduled showing on November 10 of Sex and the City, an American romantic situation comedy produced by HBO. The show was to be aired daily at 11pm.
Shown from 1998 to 2004, Sex and the City had a total of 94 episodes revolving around stories about the relationships, families and gender and sexuality issues of four women.
Over the course of its six seasons, Sex and the City had been nominated for more than 50 Emmy Awards, winning seven, and 24 Golden Globe Awards, winning eight. In 2007, the Time magazine included the show in its list of 100 best TV shows of all time.
The point is this: the show is not only about sex scenes but also about significant lessons in life, love, and marriage and the experiences of young adults in modern society. The show once became a global phenomenon and is still being shown in many countries. There should be no concern over the effects it might have on the audience.
But numerous viewers have expressed concern over the matter.
Tran Thu Huyen, a viewer from Thang Long International Village, says: "Recently, VTV announced in media that it would label 18+ rated movies (for audiences above the age of 18), so that audiences would know who was qualified to watch. The station also chose to air these movies at 11pm."
"This shows that VTV is following the world trend of choosing various broadcasting time frames for different groups of viewers. However, they have not mentioned about the classification, warning or editing of scenes. That is what I'm worried about," adds Huyen.
Le Thi Hoa Binh from Dinh Cong Ward, another viewer, says the idea of showing 18+ movies or TV series at night can be convenient for adults and mature people, but the time zone might not be safe for children under 18.
"I was a bit concerned when I heard VTV2 was about to show these kinds of movies. At home, my children have separate rooms. Before 10pm, I go around to their rooms, but after that, if they are curious and watch these movies anyway, there is no way we can stop them. I fear the sexual and violent images , language and other types of content of these movies will have a bad impact on my children, as well as other youngsters," adds Binh.
It seems that information and opinions about sex are still not openly shared and discussed among most Vietnamese, who are still preserving a traditional lifestyle.
"Even when we rate the movies as 18+, there is no guarantee that children under 18 will not be curious to watch them. It can be a huge mistake in our sex education programme. At present, not all TV sets in the country have parental locks, so I suggest all adult-classified this kind of movies should not be shown on TV," remarks Nguyen Trung Truc, another viewer.
Viewer Trinh Tri Duy agrees, saying these movies should be banned even from late night TV. "Do not forget that the culture of awareness goes along with the culture of leisure. I do not think it is a good time for showing these," Duy quips.
Tran Dang Son, a high school student, disagrees, saying these movies could be shown but within limits.
"I completely agree with the airing of these movies on TV. First, it is for pure entertainment, and second, it is helpful for sex education, the topic which our parents feel awkward to discuss with us. Even when the show is officially banned, we can still easily get access to these movies via smart phones and other devices. So is it really necessary to ban these kinds of shows?" Son asks.
According to psychology expert Bui Nhai of Thanh Dat Consulting Centre, movies rated 18+ are not only about sex but also about violence and other unsuitable topics.
"The fact that children watch these kinds of movies will affect their points of view on these matters. Many youngsters have an open lifestyle and experience early sexual intercourse and premature pregnancy after watching these movies," she remarks.
Nguyen Ha Nam, head of VTV's editing section, explains that the sensitive scenes will be cut.
"Since these movies have been labelled 18+ and are shown late at night, we will retain scenes revolving around gender issues. However, other matters relating to a different culture will be strictly edited. If we find any inappropriate scenes, we will cut them out," he adds.
Nam also stresses that Sex and the City was part of VTV's scheduled plan. "After receiving the audience's feedback, the station managers will decide if the show will still be aired," he adds. — VNS