An Exploration of Different Ways in Which Western Gaze Affects/Impacts on the Representation of Vietnamese Society in the Musical Miss Saigon.
Cameron Mackintosh, Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil’s hit musical, Miss Saigon has been plagued by controversy since the show first premiered but has still managed to win numerous awards and gain high praise from critics for both its music and its story. The musical markets itself as a tragic love story which takes place during the Vietnam War, a box office hit for those in western society. However, the controversies of the show have never truly faded away, especially for those who are, supposedly, represented by the show. This thesis will look into those controversies and the reaction from the Asian/ Asian American communities regarding the musical and will use Edward Said’s theory of Orientalism to analyse and explore the different impacts and affects which the western gaze has had on Vietnamese society in the musical and how that has translated to the world outside the musical. This dissertation will also offer a textual analysis main characters of the musical; Kim, Chris and the Enginee rto discover the differences in the portrayal of western characters and eastern characters and whether western gaze was applied whilst these characters were being created. A study also had to be carried out on the factual history of America’s invasion of Vietnam and the cultural affects this had on the country and its people.