Unofficial Translation from The Phnom Penh Post’s Khmer edition
TUESDAY, 8 SEPTEMBER 2015,
On the pages of the newspapers and magazines in Cambodia lies the article about showbiz celebrities’ scandals: brawls, traffic accidents, love affairs, frauds and so on. Firstly, all of them have shown their importance and popularity by doing their best through any possible means: songs, TV shows, Karaoke and movie in order to rise to fame “Dara Dara” pop stars as singers, actors or actresses, and hosts or hostesses on media.
Yet, when they achieved their goals, most of these superstars’ attitudes changed. They tend to become arrogant, boosting their egos and demanding respect from everyone, even their friends and relatives. The female gives too much importance to their appearance and sexiness, spending riches on stylish clothes and make-up to attract rich man to become “Srey Tata” (Young women who sponsored by rich man/high ranking officers; especially, the rich old man/high ranking officers who involved in sexual relationship). Some of them are under supported by the general of police or military senior officials.
The high ranking officials or/and rich men, especially, Oknha (a title bestowed by the King or the Head of the Government of Cambodia to the individual who financially contributes to the development of the countries or the society) called “TaTa” have been paying attention to the young girl, beautiful rising female star. If they are pleased with any of them, they will contact them through any measures. They will spend large sums of money and luxury materials on luring those superstars and satisfying needs for their sexual desire.
Many female celebrities have been working secretly in prostitution or caliber/elite indirect sex worker, which is concealed by various pictures to be legal; for example beauty salon, such as Mikaza Beauty Salon, which Chae Mom owner was charged with prostitution recently, for using her salon secretly as sex service provider between “Dara Dara” female and rich man. Many attempt to rise to fame just to be in this sexual state.
These activities respond to the PSI research report in 2002, which stated the concern of HIV/AIDS transmission from Tata and Srey Tata / Dara female. Having an affair with rich and powerful figures, some female superstars grow their arrogance, showing inappropriate and superior behaviors. This kind of relationship rarely exists among male celebrities, but they tend to do the same when they befriend or have the other sorts of relationships with rich or powerful individuals in the society.
Meanwhile, the rising stars in Cambodian showbiz have not displayed much innovation or creativity in their work; they just adopt from or imitate foreign superstars. Instead, they spend time on parties, night clubs, KTV, argument and sometimes violence. Occasionally, they caused violence and gun violence when they are involved in argument.
Furthermore, some have been involved in hit-and-run accidents, frauds, gambling, drug abuses and so on. Some even become bigheads, showing no respect or acting superior to their fans. Many of them, nevertheless, get away with the deviances, which are the deadly poison to the society as if they had a special impunity. Their act outside is not supportive of Cambodian showbiz.
The assault case on Ms Sasa, which was interfered by the Prime Minister Hun Sen last week and the press conference in which Mr. Eun Sophin, a producer and the father of Miss. Phin Sodalis, a movie star, publicly showed his anger and his desire to hurt Pen Chamrong, also a movie star, who has been in relationship with his daughter. These are the examples of the increasing trend of violence among showbiz celebrities.
Many superstars are so hated by the audiences and viewer that they have to change the channel whenever they appear on TV. Their improper behaviors and attitudes have consequences not only on their career but also the Cambodian showbiz since only a few people will pay for the tickets to see their movies or buy their albums.
The showbiz celebrities in the other countries are enhancing their talent and building up their good reputation, either inside or outside their works. They attempt to be the model citizen through contributing to charities and being goodwill ambassadors. As Angelina Jolie, who has helped countless orphans and abused women, is a very good example of model superstars.
On the contrary, Cambodian showbiz celebrities rarely contribute much for the goods of the society as the whole. They show off what they have to one another, obsessing with their prides and egos. In their movies or dramas, they act unnaturally; walking and talking slowly just like those in the movies in the year 80s, which undoubtedly, bore most of the viewers and audiences.
The comedians, in addition, display rude and vulgar action and use improper languages or sexual verbal abuse, showing a disgrace to comedy and immoral behaviors, which are useless to current social development.
These misbehavior are resulted from those star’s lack of education and poor respect for their profession. Many of Khmer superstars had received little formal education. In interviews, some female superstars admitted that they used to be pedestrians, small flower seller or sugarcane juice sellers. Obviously, the recruitments are based only on appearance; talents are not as important as beauty, good figure, sexiness and the good “relationship” including sexual relationship with the producers or directors.
The misbehaviors and the low-quality performances are the main reasons for the downfall of Khmer culture and Cambodian showbiz. Additionally, this sector has not received much attention from the government since the University of Fine Art near the Old Stadium was sold, and the new one built in the suburban area of Phnom Penh Thmey, where it is often flooded during the rainy season.
Few students want to go and study there while it is surrounded by gangsters who are causing trouble every day. Apparently, there is a rumor that the other school of fine art next to the Royal Palace will suffer the similar fate.
The government, moreover, is not capable of protecting the copyright of the authors/songwriters, whose works have been copied and exploited for personal gains. With these parasites in the society, how can they make a living? How could the authorities use the laws to settle this?
Apart from that, during the Prime Time (from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.), most of the channels broadcast foreign dramas, especially Thai dramas. Some of those Thai dramas are based on Khmer original literatures or movies such as Rithisen Neang Kangrey, Orn Euy Srey Orn, and Moranak Meada, which are being broadcasted on TV5.
That is, how can we improve the sophistication and significance of our culture and civilization when we will see foreign dramas and movies almost on every channel? Worried by this, a group of producers, directors, and superstars working in showbiz, including older actresses Ms. Dy Saveth and Ms. Chan Daraty had a meeting in the previous week to complain against the broadcasting of foreign movies and dramas during the prime time and demanded for the broadcasting of Khmer movies and dramas instead.
Nonetheless, the producers and the veterans in showbiz, who have had high education and long years of experience, have not instructed their young colleagues about morale and discipline in their works. This may be the case because those Dara Dara do not have their specific boss and manager who might assist them in attaining this goal.
In general, the civilization of a nation shall be recognized through their art and performances. What could the others see in our civilization and culture while our producers, artists, and actors/actresses have achieved nothing? What is the proof of the greatness in our culture? Our tourism is based on visits to such beautiful restorations of Khmer Buddhism at Angkor Wat. Wouldn’t it be great if they were also encouraged by movies, theater and arts. We are in need of expanding our appreciation for our own people and visitors by showing off our theatrical arts and museums demonstrating our cultural achievements.
The showbiz tendency in Cambodia is opposite to that in the Republic of Korea (South Korea), which has developed itself from the unknown to the global level. Most of the artists and superstars went to art colleges, and their performances, although having some part adapted from those of Western superstars, are lively, graceful and innovative while their origination is still maintained. For instance, Gangnam Style, sung and performed by PSY, received the most views on YouTube and was popularized not only in South Korea but all over the globe. Even Mr. Ban Ki moon, the Secretary-General of the Secretariat of the United Nations and some famous professional footballers do this Gangnam Style dance.
In the meantime, Korean movies and dramas have been popularized in many Asian countries, especially Thailand, where a number of teenagers, both male and female, love dressing and styling like Korean Superstars.
Besides, the leakages of scandals or public fighting caused by Korean showbiz celebrities are so rare due to the high attention from the government and the high moral standard of their superstars, which are also the factor which lead to the rapid development of their art and showbiz.
Tong Soprach is a social-affairs columnist for the Post’s Khmer edition.