Archive for the Arts Category

Burma ≠ North Korea

Posted in Arts, Civil Society, Education on November 1, 2010 by burmaperspective

News about Burma is almost exclusively negative.  But, Burma is not North Korea. I think that opposition groups tend to avoid talking about the positive developments in the country because they are worried that any positive news will take focus off the fact that the county continues to be ruled by a repressive dictatorship with little regard for human rights.  I actually think that this strategy has the opposite effect.  It distances westerners from the Burmese people, who get portrayed strictly as victims.

The truth is that many Burmese have access to the internet.  Many have satellite dishes.  Bootleg DVDs are sold on the streets of Yangon and movie theaters even play American movies.  As a former British colony, many Burmese speak English.  They also are huge Premier League football fans, with an unnatural affinity for Manchester United.

Culture can thrive in Myanmar, often carefully walking a line that keeps it out of the crosshairs of the regime.  Moreover, Yangon has a healthy hip-hop scene, both mainstream and underground, in addition to a thriving hardcore scene.  While much of the country lives in extreme poverty, it is important to understand that there is a sector of the country that not only has a strong cultural scene, but is also quite knowledgeable about western culture. Continue reading