Mobs clamoring for attention disrupt celebrity funerals

By Nhat Tan Dung   March 20, 2023 | 03:00 am PT
Crowds of fanatics and live-streamers caused chaos when they pushed and shoved to record the funeral of cai luong (reformed theater) legend Vu Linh.

The pushing and shoving continued even as the family transported Linh’s coffin to his resting place at Hoa Vien Cemetery in Ho Chi Minh City-adjacent Binh Duong province on March 9.

"Besides people waiting in line, there were many who jostled to take photos and videos at the funeral," said Hong Phuong, Vu Linh’s granddaughter.

Artist Thanh Dien said that the grave of his Linh’s wife, Thanh Kim Hue, another reformed theater legend, which is located nearby his burial spot, was trampled by the, breaking its flower pots.

The crowd at the funeral of reformed theater artist Vu Linh on March 9, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Tung

The crowd at the funeral of reformed theater artist Vu Linh on March 9, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Tung

During the four days of Vu Linh's funeral from March 6-9, many people standing on the sidewalk opposite his house pointed their cameras and phones directly at the funeral for live streaming and commentating. The chaotic atmosphere drowned out the chanting and recitations of Buddhist scriptures inside the house.

The behavior affected the sacred atmosphere of the funeral. Linh’s family originally planned to arrange for fans to come inside the house and burn incense for the late artist. However, due to the chaos outside, they canceled the idea.

To draw attention to themselves during the media frenzy, many netizens spread fake news about the funeral on social media during their livestreams, affecting the family and those involved.

The family had to contact these people and the media platforms to request the removal of the videos. After the fake news spread online, on March 7, the family met with a number of journalists to correct the false information on social media.

Celebrity funerals in the past, like those of actor Anh Vu, singer Wanbi Tuan Anh, model Duy Nhan, and singer Minh Thuan were also disrupted by crowds.

In 2013, at Wanbi Tuan Anh's funeral at his home, singer Dong Nhi cried when she got stuck in the recklessly dangerous crowd.

In 2019, reformed theater artist Kieu Mai Ly was pulled by her hair and pushed to the ground by a crowd at Anh Vu's funeral.

According to many artists, the degradation in manners among young people is to blame for such problems. In addition, the rise of social networks has enticed some people to do anything for content.

Other funerals of famous people in the past, like musician Trinh Cong Son's funeral in 2001, happened in a sacred and peaceful atmosphere when fans were respectful. Cultural researcher Nguyen Thi Minh Thai, who attended classical Vietnamese opera artist Thanh Ton’s funeral in 1997 said: "The funerals that I attended in the past were formal, respectful and orderly."

However, over time, the respectful and orderly manner has faded. Thai said that the current state of celebrity funerals showed how ugly people’s manners can get when there is fame involved.

People record and livestream at Vu Linhs funeral. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Tung

People livestream at Vu Linh's funeral. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Tung

Reformed theater artist Thanh Nguyet said she’s upset when she sees crowds cheer when they see a famous person at a funeral.

"In the past, I was taught funeral manners very carefully. Whenever a hearse passed by, my grandmother stopped, clasped her hands and bowed her head in remembrance, even though she did not know the deceased person. It’s important to behave with respect at funerals, whether they are for famous people or normal people," Nguyet said.

Artist Kim Tu Long said: "I think some people are too fanatic and nosy about celebrities. They meet us in real life and got too excited. However, that love should be expressed at the right place. Traditionally, there should be a solemn atmosphere at funerals. I find it very important to behave respectfully at events like this."

Regarding the problem of people livestreaming funerals, Assoc. Prof Dr. Bui Hoai Son, standing member of the National Assembly's Committee for Culture and Education, said that as technology develops, many people are passionate about bringing drama and shocking information online to satisfy public cravings for controversy.

"Getting likes, shares and followers from misleading information and offensive content is becoming more reckless. That's why we see social media users doing anything to take advantage of every event to attract public attention. The incident at Vu Linh’s funeral is an example," Son said.

According to Son, in order to solve this problem, it’s necessary to raise people's awareness about using social networks safely and healthily, according to the Code of Conduct on social media by the Ministry of Information and Communications.

"We also need to issue strict and exemplary sanctions to violators. Spreading offensive and misleading information on social media is a sign of moral corruption and it needs to be handled as soon as possible," Son added.

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