Paris By Night Turns 25

As Thuy Nga dedicates its 94th show reflecting on Paris By Night’s 25 years of existence as a populist art form, some of us have been so crude to question, what the heck are we celebrating exactly? After damn near 100 endless repetitions of musical episodes, nothing more than the young shows more skins and the old shows more wrinkles.

Love it or hate it, PBN has become part of Vietnamese pop culture and it is now inseparable from our mainstream entertainment. Looking back, PBN has grown into a big enterprise. With all the razzle-dazzle staging and lighting, the show costs millions to produce. Its music repertoires, however, remain extremely limited. The most critical dismissal of PBN and its competitors (Asia and Van Son) is the recycling of songs, but none of these productions give a shit. As long as there is a market out there, they will continue to rape the culture. Even with the piracy, PBN will be around for at least 25 more years, so stop bitching already.

If we wake up tomorrow and there will be no PBN, we would find out what kind of value it holds. The moment PBN would vanish from the marketplace, the moment we would find out if PBN were truly a cultural force or a manufacturing product. But I won’t be holding my breath waiting to see.