Contemporary Relevance of The Sympathizer

The Vietnamese Diaspora


As of 2015, the Vietnamese Diaspora represents one of the largest populations of its kind in the United States, standing at 1.8 million people when counting both the first and second generations. During and after the War in Vietnam, hundreds of thousands of refugees fled Vietnam and primarily settled in California. Most of these migrants have become U.S. citizens , with only 2% being undocumented, and the population as a whole has an average employment rate on par with the national U.S. average, as well as a higher average income.

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American War Films as Propaganda


The American Film Industry has a close relationship with the American military, with hundreds of films being backed by the Pentagon since the mid-twentieth century. Films ranging from supposedly touching biopics of American “heroes,” such as American Sniper, to installments in blockbuster franchises such as 2008’s Iron Man have all received backing from the Department of Defense, and the DOD has also been able to cause large-scale rewrites to movie scripts in order to ensure that the films are portraying the military in a positive light.

The War in Vietnam is one of the original conflicts which sparked this relationship between Hollywood and the US military. The 1968 John Wayne film Green Berets, received military backing because Wayne wished to combat the widespread anti-war sentiment which had taken root in the United States. The film went on to gross $32 million.

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Modern Vietnam

Since it’s unification in 1975, Vietnam has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Beginning with the appointment of Nguyen Van Linh as General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, the nation has begun adopting a more liberal economic policy, and as a result has seen a great deal of economic growth. Not long after this, in 1994, the United States and Vietnam reestablished trade relations, paving the way for the eventual inclusion of Vietnam in the World Trade Organization in 2007. However, while the economic growth of the country has continued, in recent years, there has been a perceived crackdown on freedom of expression due to the jailing of many pro-democracy activists and journalists who were seen as being critical of the government.


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William Eichler ’19

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