Thu, October 25, Thu, October 25, 7: Vietnam is having a Paris Hilton moment. An online sex video featuring a popular celebrity has riveted the nation for more than a week now, much as Hilton's clip seized the attention of Americans when it hit the Internet several years ago.
But unlike Hilton, the year-old woman at the center of Vietnam's sex scandal won't be able to capitalize on her newfound notoriety. Hoang Thuy Linh's show has been canceled and the actress has made a tearful farewell on national television. Like everything else in this economically booming country, ideas about sex and gender roles are quickly changing as satellite TV and the Internet bring Western influences to a society cut off by decades of war and economic isolation.
But for many in communist Vietnam, new ideas about free love are much harder to accept than the free market. And unlike men, women who break the old sexual taboos are not easily forgiven.
They have sex and fall in love when they're much too young. If I ever see her again on TV, I will turn it off, for sure. Then the minute video hit the Internet on Oct. On Thursday, Hanoi police detained four college students accused of posting the sex clip to the Internet. They could face charges of "spreading depraved cultural items," which carries a sentence of six months to 15 years if convicted.
Police identified the man in the clip as year-old Vu Hoang Viet, who is currently studying overseas. They said a friend copied the film off of Viet's laptop, and passed it along to other friends who then posted it online. Most of the public's wrath has been directed at Thuy Linh rather than Viet. Even members of Vietnam's National Assembly were overheard gossiping about it last week at the opening of the new legislative session. A few lonely voices have sprung up in Thuy Linh's defense.
But in most newspapers and on blogs and Web sites, the video has become the target of jokes and condemnation. VietnamNet, a popular online newspaper, said the episode underscored the "dark side of globalization" and warned that a flood of foreign influences "threaten Vietnam's cultural foundation.
It's completely destroyed her image.