Using the television program Vietnam Idol as a case study, the author demonstrates that even though shows like this aim to bring Viet Nam into the fold of global culture, it reconfigures dominant notions of “culture” and reinforces certain mappings of power. At the very moment it brings this so-called third world country up to speed with pop trends, Idol reveals the neocolonial processes and the culturalist terms under which global modernity is engendered in late capitalism. The author contends that global mass media — seen as free flowing, immaterial, and unbounded — reinforces a traditional “peoples and cultures” line of thinking. Through what can be called “geocultural publics,” the author recognizes Idol's attempt to mobilize different levels of public culture in the service of global movement — national, local, popular, global, youth, media culture — as enacting forms of cultural place making riddled with problems and contradictions.

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