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Foreign tourist bashed for offensive Tiktok video subtitles about Vietnam

Foreign tourist bashed for offensive Tiktok video subtitles about Vietnam

Wednesday, April 03, 2024, 12:06 GMT+7
Foreign tourist bashed for offensive Tiktok video subtitles about Vietnam
A group of tourists walk around Bui Vien Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City in this illustration photo. Vietnam has been long known as a friendly place for tourists from around the world. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

A foreign tourist is facing criticism because the subtitles in his TikTok videos were perceived to be mistranslated, potentially portraying Vietnam negatively to international viewers.

Certain viral videos from a channel known as Small Brained American, which have garnered attention from netizens in Vietnam, have come under fire due to inaccuracies in their subtitles that did not match the audio and visuals presented on-screen.

Jessica Anh Dao, a Vietnamese who is currently living and working in the U.S., was among those who made response videos and pointed out what she considered negative in Small Brained American's videos.

“This American guy went to Vietnam but insulted Vietnamese people and Vietnamese food,” Jessica spoke in English in her video shared on TikTok and Instagram.

She referenced several videos by the tourist, including one where he likened Vietnamese coffee purchased on a train to being 'black, like tarred' and tasting 'like a cleaning agent.'

“I get that some cultural food is not for everybody, but you don’t have to call something ‘tarred' or ‘cleaning agent’,” Jessica stated. 

“You can have a positive attitude towards something you don’t like, but in this case, he just wanted to act like he's better than everybody else.”

In another video, Jessica pinpointed that the tourist incorrectly subtitled what a local said when he inquired about where to find gas.

Based on the audio and visuals in the video, the local woman used both Vietnamese language and body language to say that the gas station was located 2km away, gesturing for the tourist to proceed.

A screen shot from a video of Small Brained American shows a bottle of black coffee on a Vietnam's train that was said to be 'black like tarred'.

A screenshot from a video shot by Small Brained American shows a bottle of black coffee on a Vietnamese train that was said to be 'black, like tarred.'

However, he inaccurately subtitled her dialogue with phrases like 'it's 2km that way you dumb fuck' and 'get the fuck out of my face.'

“She literally told him the direction of where the gas station was and he had to add such a negative thing,” Jessica said.

In one of his most viral videos about Vietnam, the tourist was stopped by local traffic policemen to check his international license.

However, he inaccurately subtitled what the officers said in the video, causing discrepancies between the subtitles and the actual dialogue.

“Why do you have to paint such a bad picture of Vietnamese?” Jessica said. 

“Keep in mind that Vietnamese people are extra nice to foreigners, we love tourists.

“Basically what happened in this video is this American guy went to Vietnam, instead of trying to speak the language when he spoke to the native Vietnamese, not only did he put the wrong subtitles but he also put very offensive subtitles as if Vietnamese people were trying to be malicious towards him.

“But in reality, they were just trying to help him.”

'Is the translation real?'

According to Jessica, what he did painted a bad image of not only Vietnamese people but also American people. 

“Foreigners may think that Vietnamese people don’t like them,” Jessica told Tuoi Tre News via email.

“I've seen many comments asking ‘Is this true?’ or ‘Is the translation real?’ so I decided to make a response video in English.

“This can also make Vietnamese people have less favor towards foreign tourists, especially American tourists."

Jessica believed there are many good people in the world, but there are also impolite ones.

“If one person makes a negative video that goes viral and is not considered inappropriate, others will 'follow the bad example' and in the future there will be more people doing the same,” she said.

“So they need to know that such actions are not supported.”

Small Brained American's videos, some no longer watchable for TikTok users in Vietnam, quickly faced a wave of criticism from the local netizen community, many of whom believed that the tourist had mistranslated and distorted what others said.

Some advised him to learn how to use Google Translate.

Several foreigners also joined in expressing their disapproval of the tourist, citing the friendliness of Vietnamese people and voicing their concerns over the misrepresentation portrayed in the videos.

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Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

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