Through the eyes of many foreigners propaganda is rampant in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Because there is a lot of fear regarding this word, which is also associated to another scary word . . . which happens to be Communism; so when people go to a country like Vietnam their imagination glands become over active. I am actually speaking about myself !!
Even though I consider myself a well rounded person who is open minded, I surprised myself with the stories that I made up in my head when I first got to Hanoi.
Add to the fact that most of communication is done in Vietnamese, so I didn’t understand the lingo, so it is easy to assume . . . anything !! In my past I had obviously watched way too much television. (Which is a propaganda machine all of its own, but we are not here to discuss that).
So, let me give a different view to propaganda in Hanoi.
3 Kinds are evident :
Broadcasting & Public Announcements
They are not called a loud speaker for nothing !
With almost daily public broadcasts booming from loudspeakers on every corner (sometimes well before 7am) and at night around 6pm, its an easy conclusion to come to that those are announcements are propaganda !!
But it can also be viewed as a mini local radio station informing people of upcoming events such as: a scheduled power or water cut; general information and news that they have picked up from the TV news; what is happening in the government (elections, meetings etc); that everyone needs to clean the streets this weekend; rubbish collection and clean-up times; weather and current safety issues (be careful with fires in the winter); and even that someone in the community has passed away – if that person happens to be someone well known or important an obituary will be read out.
So . . . it’s more a public radio station that everyone gets to listen to. Vietnamese are known to even sleep in public, so a public radio station should be the norm.
We must put into perspective that Vietnam has been overrun by unwanted aggressors for much of its history, so if they want to make announcements to keep them free . . . good on them is what I say.
The most stunning of all is the art form of ‘billboard posters’ which can still be seen today on an ongoing basis giving messages such as: ‘Drink Water, Remember the Source’, ‘Happy Party, Happy Spring’ ‘Industrialize and Modernize the Country’, ‘In the Sky, is the Place where Vietnam won the Victory over the French 07 May 1954’,
Originating from the Soviet Union in the 1930’s to glorify socialist goals; Ho Chi Minh adopted these billboards after 1954.
In wartime of course the message was different, usually reinforcing war involvement and victory, and before the age of television this was a powerful form of communication. Through these artworks the history of Vietnam is clearly mapped out. Now many propaganda shops are popping up giving tourists a memorable souvenir of posters, t-shirts, mugs and other merchandise.
I personally love these visual reminders of past struggles. As the new generations come along, it is important for them to understand what took place to secure their country in peace which they are enjoying.
Local blackboards are situated in alleys where people walk through on a daily basis; this is another way of informing the locals about local or national updates.
Local news is written on the blackboards by officials only.
Dotted all over Hanoi, mostly in the back streets, these also notify locals of up to date information and are often used to reinforce important parts of the public announcements.
All news is good news !!
The selection of magazines is increasing on an ongoing basis.
Simple daily life events really interests me. Something as simple as buying a weekend newspaper in my country can mean going to buy it from newsagents, bookstore or diary or 7/11 store.
This pales in comparison compared to options of purchase in Hanoi. As time these will probably disappear, but I hope not, as that would be boring. The diversity that Hanoi offers service to their customer is even better than door to door, as you can buy a newspaper while you happen to be walking around or if you are in a cafe someone comes and offers you one.
Plus, if you can’t afford a newspaper you can just go to one of the notice boards that display the whole paper every day.