The Broadway Musical “Miss Saigon” recently celebrated its 24th birthday and is gearing up to launch in Minneapolis and Detroit. But the play’s new run is giving some the chance to speak out. The musical, which was written by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boubil, and Richard Maltby, centers on a romance between an American man and a Vietnamese woman during the Vietnam War. Since its opening in 1989, the play has become one of the longest running and most enduring representations of Vietnamese people in the Western world. But many detractors accuse the play of trafficking in age-old Asian stereotypes.
A new Tumblr campaign has popped up called Don’t Buy Miss Saigon: Our Truth Project. In it, dozens of Asian-Americans, most Vietnamese men and women, can “share their truths, as an act of resistance,” according to the website.
I am a Vietnamese American woman, and this is my truth: It is not customary practice in Vietnamese culture to force marriages between family relatives, let alone cousins, nor force betrothals between children. Traditional Vietnamese culture is one of the most feminist progressive cultures — we had laws stating that daughters had equal rights to inherit family property as sons, women could own and inherit property as men, and women could keep their family names instead of forcing them to change their surnames to their husbands family’s at the same time that women in Europe were seen as little more than marriage chattel to be sold for their dowries. Miss Saigon doesn’t want you to know about these truths.
I am a Vietnamese American woman, and I would choose to fall in love with a Thuy over an American G.I. any damn day of the week. Miss Saigon doesn’t want you to know about this truth.
I am a Vietnamese American woman. Why don’t you care about my truth? - -NB