Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

A Dose of Burmese Glamour

August 31st, 2009 · 3 Comments

MinMawKunNot that we’re insensitive louts or anything, but we generally fail to get riled up by charges of religious blasphemy. As such, we really can’t say we understood the recent, rather obscure to-do over the photo above, in which a Burmese film star named Min Maw Kun was accused of disrespecting Buddhism. No, what made our eyebrows rise was the revelation that Burma has its own movie-celebrity culture—Yollywood, as we’d like to dub it. And it comes complete with annual Oscars-style shindig, as well as US Weekly-like intrigue over the stars’ loves and losses. All this despite the fact that the nation’s per capita GDP places it between Mali and Zambia on the United Nations’ human development index.

As with everything else in Burma/Myanmar, of course, artists in this world make a Faustian bargain in order to attain their junta-approved celebrity. Outspokenness on political matters is obviously forbidden; we wasted a good chunk of the morning looking for any political statements that Min Maw Kun may have made, for example, but came up snake eyes. (If any Microkhan readers can point us in the right direction, we’d be much obliged.) Instead, we only found videos from his former career as a milquetoasty singer, as well as this highly entertaining compendium of his movie posters.

Yet don’t take this post as a condemnation of Min Maw Kun. We actually sympathize with his plight, and realize that we view his passivity through decidedly Western glasses. We spend so much of our waking hours struggling for creative success; if that success were dangled before our eyes, and we were only asked to refrain from commenting on politics, would we be able to resist the deal? We know what we’d like the answer to that question to be, but hypothetical words are always hollow.

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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Captured Shadow

    That is an interesting point on political freedom vs. commercial success. If I was offered the chance to give up my right to vote in exchange for a life of leisure ala Kuwait style government, could I resist? I don’t see a flood of Kuwaitis moving to western democracies……

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    Those thirty pieces of silver are always mighty tempting…especially for us self-involved creative types.

  • scottstev

    @Captured Shadow- The Kuwaiti/Dubai model is very tempting at first glance. I think all of us would love to live with an unlimited income and no need to wallow in the day-to-day grind of citizenship.

    However, as recent articles have shown, you accept a lot of risk if you take that bargain. Without rule-of-law, contracts become difficult to enforce. And your time in the sun could end rather unpleasantly if you offend or get in the way of someone powerful. I wonder if that sense of it all possibly ending tomorrow leads to a lot of the carpe diem luxury lifestyle of those regions.

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