Large, jostling crowds of live-streamers filming celebrities attending the funerals of deceased colleagues are a relatively modern phenomenon.
The most recent case occurred on December 9, when a large number of Saigonese gathered outside the city’s forensic center in District 5 to capture celebs paying their last respects to comedian Chi Tai, whose body was transferred here after he had passed away the same day.
Tai passed away suddenly at the age of 62. He was found unconscious on the staircase in his apartment building in HCMC, and was rushed to the hospital but could not be saved.
His Facebook page, Danh Hai Chi Tai (Comedian Chi Tai), has nearly 200,000 followers, and news of his death drew tributes from fans and fellow comedians on social media. His funeral will be held on December 12, and his body will be sent on the same day to the U.S., where his wife lives.
A crowd of people holding phones and cameras outside Saigon’s forensic center to to live-stream and take photos on December 9, 2020. Photo by Tien Phong Newspaper.
The most common live-stream refrain read: “Hello everyone, I am at the place where Chi Tai’s body is kept. Let’s share the videos so more and more people can pay tribute to him.”
Once the center’s gate was opened, these so-called content creators rushed to catch a glimpse of celebrities, many even climbing the wall to get inside, amid much yelling and screaming.
Many of the visiting artists, surrounded by an army of unmasked people holding phones and cameras, were annoyed and had to take the help of security staff to get out.
Hoai Linh, also a comedian and a close friend of Tai’s, expressed unhappiness, saying: “Gathering amid the pandemic is not safe.”
At around 11 p.m. the police arrived and told the crowds to stop as many of them were standing on the street, disturbing the neighborhood and affecting traffic.
Many live-streamers operating popular Facebook or YouTube accounts, apart from simply drawing attention to themselves, seek to profit from ad revenues generated by both platforms.
In April 2019, the funerals of comedian Anh Vu in Saigon was disturbed by several live-streamers. Singers Minh Thuan’s funeral in 2016 and that of singer Wanbi Tuan Anh in 2013 faced the same disruption.
Cai luong (southern folk opera) singer Ngoc Giau, after attending Vu’s funeral in Saigon in 2019, said: “Their behavior was so bad. They waved, cheered, shouted our names, pulled our hands, and thrust their cameras into our faces.
“If they love us and want a photo or chat with us, they can meet us at other events but not at a friend’s funeral like this when we are in no mood for such things.”