chapter  1
Pages 17

Everyday cultural life dramatically reflects and embodies changes in society at large. In this volume, a range of authors discuss the impact on everyday lived experience of the key political and economic transformations that have occurred in Vietnam over the last few years. Since the late 1980s, Vietnam has undergone a metamorphosis from a relatively closed society with a centrally planned economy to a rapidly urbanising one with a globalising cultural outlook. As the experience of other modernising Southeast Asian nations has shown, however, it is nigh impossible to open oneself up to global flows of capital without also opening oneself up to global flows of culture and information. It is because of this that Vietnam is on the brink of becoming a fully fledged media culture in which the popular narratives and cultural icons are reshaping political views, constructing tastes and values, crystallising the market economy and ‘providing the materials out of which people forge their very identities’ (Hartley 1996: 1). These changes have been the catalyst for an exciting ferment of activity in the domain of pop culture. Artists, musicians, writers, television producers and film directors have all benefited from the diversification in patterns of consumption, the slowly increasing levels of wealth and the gradual freeing up of state control over the activities of the populace.