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Tapestries: Interwoven voices of local and global identities

Abstract

People have been protesting and supporting the musical Miss Saigon since its premiere in 1989. The musical tale of a white American GI falling in love with a Vietnamese bargirl during the Vietnam War is praised for its diverse cast and showing the Vietnamese side of the war. Miss Saigon is also criticized for its stereotypical depiction of Asian women as prostitutes and Asian men as cold and treacherous. Both sides are passionate, and there is no clear consensus or majority opinion. What, then, is the value of Miss Saigon? Should it be banned or still performed? I analyze the different positions of the protesters, and compare their opinions to Miss Saigon supporters. The debate reaches beyond Miss Saigon to comment on what quality representation in media means and whether quality representation for one group is outweighed by controversial representation of another. Ultimately, I decide that the show is still worth performing if the actors and production team are willing to contend with the issues of race and representation raised by the protesters.

Author Biography

Isabel (Izzy) P. S. Ryde (she/her/hers) is a graduating senior at Macalester College from Concord, Massachusetts. She is an American Studies and Geology double major. Her research interests include hydrology; disability studies; women’s, gender, and sexuality studies; and the intersection of science and society. She extends her thanks to those who have helped her get to the cusp of graduating, even when reaching this point was uncertain.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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