Illustration by Trịnh Lập
October 1951, was an important month in the history of television, and more specifically, light entertainment.
A new kind of show aired for the first time on the 15th of that month staring Lucille Ball and her husband Desi Arnaz.
It was called ‘I Love Lucy’ and appeared on America’s CBS network, running for a little under six years with a total of 180 episodes recorded.
It may not have been the first sitcom to air on television, but the importance of the show was far-reaching and indeed ground-breaking in the world of television.
Lead actress Lucille Ball was a pioneer, not only leading the way for future generations of female comedians, but also running the production company in charge of the show.
Her real-life husband and co-star was Hispanic, and Ball had to fight tooth-and-nail with the network to make sure he played the part of her onscreen spouse. And she won.
I Love Lucy was bold, imaginative and very, very funny. It shaped the future of television for the viewing public.
Good entertainment lasts. Bad ones wither and die.
A few years after I Love Lucy stopped filming, a soap opera in Britain hit the screens by the name of Coronation Street.
Almost 60 years later it is still going strong on British television. It has stood the test of time.
Sadly, shows with longevity really are few and far between in the modern entertainment world. In fact the medium through which we are entertained has changed at a mind-boggling pace.
Today, because of the high technology available on cellular phones, everyone is a camera operator, everyone a presenter, everyone a sound technician and with content sharing channels available at a touch of a button, everyone thinks they can be a star.
Some make it big, others fall flat on their faces and disappear without a trace.
One unlikely internet superstar is Nguyễn Thị Tân. She has amassed more than 1.8 million subscribers on her YouTube channel where she cooks weird and wonderful food.
Her videos, under the name 'Grandma Tân' have been watched millions of times. She is, for want of a better phrase, an internet sensation.
Fame has certainly beckoned, but what about fortune?
Monetising the profits made from YouTube views is tricky, complicated, and the real winner at the end of the day is obviously YouTube itself which takes a whopping 45 per cent of all profits.
That said, there is money to be made.
It is estimated that advertisers will pay roughly VNĐ23,000 (US$1) per 1,000 views, that’s $1,000 for each million.
Reports suggest a channel with a million subscribers regularly producing videos that top the 600,000 views mark can expect to make somewhere in the region of $3,000 per week.
Keep consistent and that could work out at up as more than $150,000 each year. A salary a top CEO would be proud of.
Some reports have suggested the potential earnings from such a popular video blog could be even more.
Does Grandma Tân earn that sort of money? That’s a question really only her, her family and her bank manager will be able to answer.
But despite all the promises of untold riches, being, and staying, a social media success is not always a bed of roses.
Competition is fierce. You need the skin of a rhinoceros to deal with haters and trolls plus the pressure to improve your content all the time can be very demanding. At the end of the day, you are only as good as your last video.
Rivals see your success and want in, often copying your ideas and content, and producing higher quality videos in order to steal your audience.
In the world of video production, plagiarism abounds. And the nature of the business means your life is no longer private.
The chances of 58-year-old Nguyễn Thị Tân saying 'Xin chào' to Bắc Giang Province and heading for the bright lights of Hollywood are slim at best.
You won’t find her on the red carpet at the latest movie premiere in between Brad Pitt and Leonardo Di Caprio and it is very unlikely to see her cruising through her village in a Bugatti Veyron.
The smart money would suggest she is the same person she was before her new found fame.
If her channel and success lasts and grows, then great. Good luck to her, and long may she remain the centre of attention.
If it comes to an end then it’s very doubtful she will really be too bothered and her life will go on as it always did. One can only hope those around her have put a little bit of that cash away for the day it starts to rain. VNS