Wacky Records or Cheap Stunts?

A man introduced as a record holder proudly stepped onto the stage, announced he would perform a never-seen-before feat to an attentive audience and after putting a live fish into his mouth, swallowed it whole.

The biggest shirt in Viet Nam is 58m long, 40m wide and weighs 520.76kg. This "largest shirt was washed in the shortest time". Obviously this 'record' is extremely funny and insulting to reason

By gulping down a struggling pseudapocryptes elongates, he said he had established a record as no one before him had swallowed such fish even though there are countless others drinking frogs or other fish species.   

Thus, in shrewdly choosing his food, this man ensures an honorable place, at least informally, as the first man to swallow a pseudapocryptes elongates whole.

This recent show in a southern province, meant to serve workers at an industrial zone, later turned into a miscarriage when the record man regurgitated the fish while the audience was partying and sipping soup.

The ‘record holder’, who could also use his bare fingers to strike a hole in a hard-shelled coconut or use his forehead to break a thorny durian into two, had no alternative but to clandestinely secrete himself away.

Yet, more bizarre shows featuring humans drinking broken glass and swallowing frogs, worms and lizards have been organized before.

What’s more, similar futile ‘records’ wasting time and money are not rare in Viet Nam.

During a sea festival in Nha Trang resort last year, many useless records were sought including a 3m-tall ‘seahorse’ made of luminous neon lights, 100 giant pinwheels, and a mammoth 1.6m high cauldron made from 1,100 kg of clay and 400kg of iron.

Surely, this “cooking pan” fails to fulfill its cooking purpose explicitly stated in its very name.

“What are they for?” American tourist Kevin Mack wondered.

The biggest frying pan. One wonders who will use it

During Valentine last year in Da Lat, a national record was set for the most kisses when 500 couples passionately pressed their lips against each other in front of the public and a penal of judges from Vietbooks, a records organization in Viet Nam.

Even though love is in all aspects strongly encouraged, expressing it in public goes somewhat against Vietnamese culture and tradition.
Other recently-set and purposeless records include the longest ‘wedding dress’ (42m) which no beauty can don, a 40m high ‘wedding candle’ weighing 3 tons, the biggest teapots 3.6m high and 2m in diameter designed probably for superman, the tallest wine barrel (1.6m) and a caravan transporting the most grooms and brides.

Similarly, last May, a frying pan weighing 1.6 tons and spanning nearly 3m in diameter was displayed in a market in Lao Cai province. False to its name, it cannot fry anything consumable for a human person.

Then, many records overlap one another. Just early this month, the international martial arts festival concluded in Binh Dinh province where six records were established. But two separate records: “event with the most martial arts programs” and “event with the largest-scale organization in martial arts programs” seem, to some extent, the same for all intents and purposes.

Anyway, no record is as silly, funny or insulting to reason as “washing the largest shirt within the shortest time” record set two years ago after this shirt - which took 40 people to make in 15 days to fit a 140m tall man - was established as the largest so far in Viet Nam.

To a normal human mind, if we already have “the largest shirt”, then the record of washing it in the shortest time is nonsensical considering there are no other largest shirts against which to compare for shortest or longest time.

However, it did serve one purpose though. The detergent used to “wash the largest shirt within the shortest time” is Unilever’s OMO brand and it was none other than Unilever which organized this event.

Syndrome, megalomania or cheap stunts?

The largest coffee cup. It is clearly a ploy by Vinacafe to promote its products

“Today records …are not interesting any more…People seek them so that they can be recorded in local and international books of records even though these no longer interest people as they used to”, culture researcher Do Doan Phuong told Sai Gon Giai Phong.

Taking a more extreme view, sociologist Nguyen Thi Oanh termed such bandwagon phenomenon chasing after hollow records as a “disease” reflecting achievement syndromes and the gaudiness of the nouveau riche, which should strongly be discouraged.

“Uniqueness should only be recognized when it comes with true values”, critic Vuong Tri Nhan said.

However, there are also many meaningful records especially when it comes to human will or creativeness to overcome challenges.

Mr. Nguyen The Vinh, a one-handed amputee, playing guitar and harmonica at the same time or Mr. Mai Dinh Toi playing weird home-made musical instruments, all serve both to inspire and are hugely entertaining in themselves.
Other than that, any record for record sake, for publicity stunts designed to attract public attention to a certain brand name or attempts at “the most”, “the best”, “the first” or “the biggest” that cause shock, disgust and antipathy should be removed. 

By Thao Pham - Translated by BH

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