interview segment with Vietnamese rock band Thomas'
Apartment from one of the pilot episodes that was screened
at the premier. Courtesy
American Xposure Premier and Party in Huntington Beach
August 28, marked the monumental premier of "VAX,"
or "Vietnamese American Xposure," a new television
show that seeks to promote and expose the Vietnamese
American Culture to Americans through the use of mainstream
media and youth culture. "VAX"'s goal is to
"present the Vietnamese American identity"
while simultaneously bridging "the connection between
the old and new Vietnamese Am. generations."
Nguyen and Kathy Nguyen, the hosts of "VAX."
Courtesy of APA
premier was held at Club Majestic in Huntington Beach,
CA. and was quite the hip, upscale, trendy youth event.
The red carpet was rolled out for the press, sponsors
and special guests, and the club was completely decorated
with hanging stars and moons, dim lighting and candlelit
tables set all around the stage/runway. Guests mingled
and munched on Vietnamese appetizers until about 8:30
pm when the hosts of "VAX" finally came on
stage to kick off the premier.
Le, the executive producer of "VAX" and VABC's
(Vietnamese American Broadcasting Channel) President,
was the first to formally address the audience with
his inspiring analogy of the inception of MTV, which
coincidentally took place exactly twenty years prior
to the premier of "VAX." Le excitedly proclaimed
that like MTV, twenty years from now, "VAX"
would be broadcast all over the world, and the almost
entirely Vietnamese audience applauded with amazing
enthusiasm. He also explained that this new show, which
is similar in style to "Entertainment Tonight,"
shared the same key to success as MTV: It is "a
show for young people; produced, directed and performed
by young people."
model for Manhattan Ave. strutting her stuff on
the runway. Courtesy of APA
most important point that was driven home throughout
the night by all speakers however, was the fact that
this show was to "xpose" the Vietnamese Am.
identity and show Americans, which were described as
"neighbors" in our shared homeland, what they
are, and what they can do for our homeland. Exposure
was definitely the key word, as the director, producer,
cast and crew have embarked on a journey to change the
views of Vietnamese Americans in the U.S.
of non-Asian descent myself, I have found that it is
sometimes difficult for me to recognize on my own the
lack of representation of certain Asian cultures in
the mainstream media. This night definitely made it
clear to me that the Vietnamese Am. community is a large
and valuable part of the American and, specifically,
Californian community. As a whole this ethnic group
is misunderstood and underrepresented, which is what
makes this new television show so extremely important
for the community. That importance could be felt through
the energy of the audience who applauded loudly and
exuberantly in celebration of this new entertainment
the fashion show put on by Manhattan Ave., a clothing
store in Garden Grove, the first pilot episode of "VAX"
was presented on a huge screen, as well as on other
smaller screens mounted up around the large decorated
room. It was the first clip of the first episode that
made the need for this show so painstakingly clear,
especially to me as a non-Asian who never faces much
racial stereotyping. The two hosts of "VAX,"
Kathy Nguyen and Joey Nguyen set out on the streets
of Los Angeles, one of the most diverse cities in the
world, to find out what the average person knows about
Vietnamese Americans. The results were disappointing
to say the least. The words or thoughts that came to
mind included war, gangsters, pet consumption and nail
salons. Not one person could name a Vietnamese celebrity,
and when they attempted, it was Jackie Chan or Bruce
Lee - both not Vietnamese.
very much resembles the format of the hit show "Entertainment
Tonight," with Kathy Nguyen and Joey Nguyen starting
off on a studio set sitting behind a desk. There they
chit-chat and introduce the various segments which then
cut to a screen behind them.
the first episode they attended the premier of "The
Anniversary," a film by Vietnamese producer Ham
Tran, which was partly shot on location in Vietnam and
is about a Buddhist monk who is haunted by war memories
and heartbreaking betrayal on the anniversary of his
brother's demise. They shot the segment in a fast-paced,
split screen style with the interviews with Tran and
Director Tim Bui on one side, and scenes from the film
on the other, with music playing all the while. This
is not a new style of presentation, but it worked very
well for them and was quite entertaining to watch.
rapper Chosen One raps to the lovely ladies in the
audience. Courtesy of APA
of course, as a new show, not everything was perfect.
While the segments out on location at different screenings,
parties and events seemed to come very naturally for
the cast, the on-set segments did not go so well. The
dialogue was too canned and the enthusiasm and acting,
too fake and over-the-top. I must admit that it bordered
way! Did you say a Vietnamese rock band?! Wow!"
(Not an actual quote).
don't mean to talk trash though as I don't think I could
do any better creating a show from thin air. Overall
the show was very entertaining. Even with its flaws
it seems to have great potential.
is a show for the entire community; not just the Vietnamese
American community. The show demonstrates that Vietnamese
Americans, who are so greatly underrepresented in the
mainstream media, can be singers, actors, musicians,
directors, etc. They can be anything they want! They
don't need to always rap about being Asian, or write
plays about the Asian American experience. They are
simply people with all the same talents as every other
race, whether it be white, black, Latino or what have
you. This is their chance to tell their story, to be
represented like everyone else. This is media empowerment.
will air later this month on Time Warner's channel 16!
Check your local listings for updates.