Rise of the vloggers

By Kim Nga, Thanh Nien News

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The Vietnamese video blog becomes a phenomenon reflecting local social and cultural issues

JVevermind, whose real name is Tran Duc Viet, has quickly become Vietnam’s most popular vlogger, catching millions of views for each vlog he uploads on YouTube. He’s distinguished himself from other bloggers by pontificating concisely and to the main poin

Blogger Duhocsinhmy’s “Ban nghi ban gioi tieng Anh” (So you think you’re good at English), released in 2011, was the first Vietnamese vlog to go truly viral here. 

The debut vlog (video blog) essentially tells local Vietnamese youth that they are not good at English just because they “can court a girl and ask foreigners for money in English.”
Duhocsinhmy, a Vietnamese studying in America, was poking fun at Vietnam’s poor English skills (including his own) by saying that he thought he was good at English until he moved to America and speak it as part of his daily life. 
The vlog was soon critiqued by bloggers JVevermind and Toan Shinoda, who then became internet sensations themselves, while Duhocsinhmy fell by the wayside.  
JVevermind, whose real name is Tran Duc Viet, has quickly become Vietnam’s most popular vlogger, catching millions of views for each vlog he uploads on YouTube. 
He is also the country’s most productive vlogger with more than a hundred video clips. 

What’s in a vlog?
Viet often plays a variety of different characters by himself, but he also vlogs in the traditional sense by sitting in front of the camera and simply talking about his feelings and opinions in a comedic way.
His side-splitting viewpoints about young people’s trials and tribulations with love, being single, bullying, crazy fans, manic netizens, the differences between men and women and Vietnam’s north and south regional discrimination have become his most popular topics.
He’s distinguished himself from other bloggers by pontificating concisely and to the main point, rather than just rambling and ranting. 
After being criticized for swearing in some vlogs, Viet said using “bad words” is just a way to emphasize his emotions, not insult anybody. The “damns,” he said, can also bring about a truer depiction of the social problems he discusses. 
Viet says that becoming famous is not his primary goal, but he has still become the first Vietnamese vlogger to win the YouTube Award’s Gold Play Button for having over 1.3 million subscribers. His disclosed affair with young sex-symbol Mie, another vlogger, also grabbed local headlines, especially since he had made fun of her in a previous clip.  

Funny foibles
Lately, Viet and hot bloggers Huyme and Toan Shinoda (who has also been criticized for using dirty language) have taken part in a new vlog about Vietnam’s traditional Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday with the newly-formed Thich An Pho Team (The Like Eating Phở Team), a rising blogger group led by To Buu Phat, who is better known by his nickname Pho Dac Biet (Special Phở). 
The vlog surpassed a million views on its first day of release. All it did was list some specific features of Vietnam’s traditional new year ceremonies with humorous interpretations, but it was still a smashing success, despite a few skewerings from the group’s tougher critics. The critics said it was only a hit because of the appearance of sex symbols like braless cyber sensation Ba Tung (aka Le Thi Huyen Anh) and actress Chi Pu. 
Also, the fact that Ngoc Thao, an actress known as Phat’s best artistic partner, left the group disappointed many of the team’s fans. She told Zing.vn that she left the group due to disagreements about teamwork and financial problems. 
The Tet Holiday video was the phở team’s eighth production. 
Other popular posts include “Pho Bac – Nam,” which features the different lifestyles and cultures of people in north and south Vietnam, “Pho Boy and Girl,” covering the differences between men and women and “Pho Sinh Vien” conveying the idiosyncratic behaviors of local students. 
The team has been noted for their observational comedy that depicts funny true facts and their humorous use of sound and visual effects. 
Phat said that he chose the name Phở for his team with the aspiration of making such vlogs as popular as the world-renowned Vietnamese noodle soup specialty. With the group’s increasing subscription rate, they may very well be on their way. 

Room to improve?
For noted vlogger Dua Leo (cucumber), who is also a Vietnamese stand-up comedian, the vlog is a form of expression without rules and there is no right or wrong way to do it, only personal ideas. “It’s about your braveness to raise your opinion,” he said.  
Still, he admits that a vlogger’s personal appearance (read: sex appeal), still has a lot to do with their popularity. 
That view has led many to believe that the vlog is just another passing fad. 
But Viet says his vlog is only getting more and more popular and there are more and more increasingly popular new bloggers everyday as well. 
He says the vlogs are the true offspring of the digital era and they are only getting better and better.

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