More and more Internet sensations have bad impacts on local youth bloom and become local authorities' worry.
Many of the new, popular search keywords that emerged in Vietnam last year suggest that Vietnamese youth are getting locked into a lifestyle best described as shallow.
"Ba Tung" and "Quan Kun" are the two names that dominated Vietnamese cyberspace in early 2013 after they exposed their intention to claim the spotlight by stripping.
Ba Tung, whose real name is Le Thi Huyen Anh, did achieve fame of sorts after saying she will post a clip of her dancing braless to the Korean song "Gentleman" if her status, which made this pledge, got 10,000 "likes."
She got her likes and kept her promise. More statuses, images and clips followed, and she retained her "popularity" throughout the year, during the course of which she also made clear her willingness to do anything to get into the local showbiz industry.
However, just hours before her debut show singing at a bar in Hanoi, her "past" caught up with her, and she was slapped with a ban on performing anywhere in the country.
Subsequent reports assumed she must be cooling her heels since the door to the entertainment industry had been shut in her face. But Anh keeps maneuvering the spotlight on herself, a task made easier by the predilections of today's youth.
Lately, Anh has undergone plastic surgeries on her face and breasts, the netizens have speculated, and her appearance at some entertainment events, such as the Vietnamese adapted X-factor reality show's audition, has still been covered by local tabloids.
She has also "inspired" many young girls, one of them a 13-year-old student posting her selfies in low-necked outfits. Many other girls and even couples are now posting photographs of themselves in revealing dresses and erotic poses. Although they have not made the same cyber splash as Ba Tung did, concerned authorities have intervened, imposing fines on "cultural products" under different regulations.
They fined several versions of the music clip "Anh khong doi qua" (I won't take my gifts back) in Binh Thuan Province on the central coast and Can Tho City in the Mekong Delta. The video clip is among twenty made by amateurs around the country. They have their origins in a music video made by rapper and composer Karik and Only C.
The work is based on another video that has been spreading via Facebook since mid-November, featuring a girl and her family who have been asked to compensate and give back all the expensive gifts by a man, presumably made by her ex-boyfriend's friend.
The highlighted part of Karik's clip is a girl walking down the street, taking off her clothes and accessories one by one, until she is wearing nothing but her underwear. This video attained quick popularity and gave rise to provincial replicas.
The fine, based on Decree 73/2010 which penalizes nudity in public places, is just around VND60,000 to VND100,000 (some 3 to 5 US dollars), too light to deter the remaking of the clip. The versions followed - of a man in drag, a gay person and a little girl, all stirring controversy.
However, the decree stipulates that fines should only be imposed when one is nude in crowded places where people gather for a particular purpose, at cultural or religious sites, or at state agencies. Since the clips were filmed on empty streets, the youths can't be fined.
Moreover, when Decree 167/2013, replacing the 73/2010, took effect on December 28, 2013 the violators could off without any penalty, as it doesn't stipulate fines for public nudity.
Pham Xuan Phuc of the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, told Thanh Nien newspaper that the case should be handled based on Decree 75/2010, which stipulates penalties on administrative violations in cultural and performance activities.
He elaborated that although the young amateurs were making video clips, they can be considered as being involved a performance, and can be fined for wearing inappropriate clothing to local customs. The fine would be from VND2 million to 5 million (up to US$236).
Many netizens have said they like to see clips of sexy girls for fun and these clips are not a big deal.
Authorities have also fined popular singers and models for wearing revealing dresses. Nineteen-year-old Angela Phuong Trinh, a junior film star of some note, turned into a hot topic among netizens with shocking interviews and proving her maturity by being sexier, was forbidden to perform permanently for wearing risquÃ© outfits when she sang in a bar.
But Trinh does not seem to be very worried about the ban, as she can still earn good money as a guest at commercial events.
Nguyen Dang Chuong, head of the Performing Art Department, told VOV online newspaper that the prevention of such "debauched" phenomena must rely on moral education at school, family and in the larger society.
Meanwhile, official clarity and evenness on such issues is still lacking. Many are wondering, for instance, why, when the provincial remakes of the video clip have been fined, Karik's original version has attracted no penalty whatsoever.