Almost eight months after a scandal broke out involving singer Hien Ho’s alleged extramarital affair with a rich man, she’s been hit hard by a boycott.
Showbiz industry observers say this is unusual in Vietnam. “This is the first time that a community boycott has affected a celebrity long after a scandal,” media expert Nguyen Ngoc Long told VnExpress International.
He said there have been celebrities who copped criticisms and were boycotted in the past, but these did not have such a prolonged impact.
When the HCMC University of Food Industry revealed that singer Hien Ho would be one of the performers at a November 19 event to welcome new students, many criticized the move, with some even saying they wouldn’t attend the event if Hien Ho performed.
“I am disappointed about the event. They should have invited someone else instead of this singer” Van Thy commented on Facebook.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to invite Hien Ho to a university event after the scandal. She cannot be a model for young people,” commented another netizen, Duc Chien.
Many voices added to the chorus: “We should boycott artists who do not have moral standards;” “It’s time for Vietnamese audiences to get stricter with scandalous celebrities;” “I think the Hien Ho case can be used as a prime example for people to start cleaning up the mess in Vietnamese showbiz;” and so on.
After the negative reaction from students, the university decided to remove Hien Ho from the event.
On November 22, Pham Thai Son, director of the Admission and Media Department of the university said: “When this singer was revealed as one of the performers at the event, many students reacted unfavorably. We had to reconsider the invitation to the singer, and decided to remove her from the performing list.”
The scandal surfaced when some photos of Hien Ho with a married man surfaced online in March this year, inviting a social media backlash.
The businessman, in his 60s, told the media that he and the singer were just close friends, but the netizens did not buy it. They found that the hugging was “too intimate” and found that the photograph was taken in a 5-star hotel in Hanoi. Many accused Hien Ho of being a third person ruining a marriage.
The 25-year-old singer stayed off showbiz for a while. She also issued a public apology in April.
Most of the time, Vietnamese artists who have been embroiled in scandals regarding their private life, charity activities or controversial statements have waited for public anger and sentiments to cool before resuming their public life and continuing to attract audiences.
Meanwhile, in some other Asian countries with huge entertainment industries like South Korea and China, it has been seen that it is very difficult to come back from a sandal that triggers strong public outrage and boycotts and heavy sanctions from authorities.
Le Tien Tho, former deputy minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, told the Thanh Nien Newspaper that “authorized agencies need to monitor artists closely and promptly handle violations in order to clean up the showbiz business.”
However, there are also many people who are more understanding and forgiving about celebrities involved in scandals. They argue that everyone makes mistakes and should have a chance to redeem themselves.
One netizen, Thinh Nguyen, said: “I agree that celebrities should be punished for their misdeeds, but we should also give them a chance to redeem themselves and become a better role model for the youth.”
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