‘Miss Saigon’ protestors use social media to rally support, spread awareness

Artist Ricardo Levins Morales created a poster for the Don't Buy Miss Saigon Coalition to use as part of its campaign.

As the return of the musical "Miss Saigon" to the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts approaches, activists protesting the show are using a tool they didn't have access to the last time around: social media.

From the Don't Buy Miss Saigon tumblr feed: I am a Vietnamese woman. This is my truth: I love a good love story just like anyone else, but not when it comes packaged in a misogynistic story of exoticised and submissive Vietnamese women. -MC

Members of the Don't Buy Miss Saigon Coalition are using Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, as well as various websites and blogs, to spread the message that the Broadway musical is racist and sexist.

"The real truth is: Prostitution is not a love story," writes author and actor David Mura on Opine Season. "But by focusing on this love story, Miss Saigon ignores or slights the dehumanization and exploitation of prostitution and instead tries to romanticize human trafficking. The musical ignores or slights the fact that this prostitution existed as a result of the U.S. military presence in Vietnam. It ignores or slights the fact the G.I. hero Chris and his fellow soldiers are exploiting and dehumanizing the Vietnamese women they take economic advantage of."

"It is not that I think a run of Miss Saigon is going to make life worse," writes Professor Kim Park Nelson on Gazillion Voices. "We already live in a society that is almost entirely racially segregated: where White male power majorities are maintained whether or not there are White male demographic majorities; where media representations of Asian Americans are rare (and usually problematic when they do appear); where adoptees and Asian women have high rates of suicide and suicide attempt; and where racial stereotypes prevail and continue to divide us politically, socially, economically, and geographically.  This is the status quo that Miss Saigon maintains and has represented since its premiere; the continuing popularity of Miss Saigon, more than anything else, is an indicator that nothing has changed at all.  I would like to think we could come up with something better, but according to the producers and host theaters of Miss Saigon, this is the best they can do."

Artist Ricardo Levins Morales created this poster for the Don't Buy Miss Saigon Coalition to help their campaign.

"Miss Saigon, which has been called 'the greatest love story of our time,' is an expensive production," writes Bao Phi on 18Million Rising. "It has raked in a ton of money, and it will continue to do so. Human beings seem to have an endless appetite for racism, sexism, and colonialism. Most of the people paying hundreds of dollars to see Miss Saigon would hate to be called racists, I’m sure, or would deny that they are supporting something that reinforces Orientalism, sexism, and human trafficking. But they’ll open up their wallets all the same."

The coalition has also created a petition which, as of this writing, has 733 signatures.

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In addition, they are meeting with elected officials in St. Paul and in Washington, D.C. to build more political support for the protest.


Of course, the coalition is not limiting its efforts to the virtual world; tonight Macalester College is hosting a panel discussion tonight, and they plan to protest the opening of the musical at the Ordway on Oct. 8.