Vietnam War-themed bar posts apology after accusations of ‘capitalising on pain’

The bar opened in a suburb of Melbourne with a large population of Vietnamese residents

Joanna Whitehead
Wednesday 10 March 2021 11:00 GMT
‘Vietnam War era is not an aesthetic’, wrote one critic (istock)
‘Vietnam War era is not an aesthetic’, wrote one critic (istock) (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

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A newly opened bar in Australia has apologised after adopting a Vietnam War theme, with social media users describing it as “hurtful and insensitive”.

In a series of online posts, which have since been removed, the Rickshaw Bar in Richmond, Melbourne, used imagery relating to the Vietnam War, including pint glasses full of bullets, fallen military aircraft, dog tags and references to Agent Orange – a chemical weapon used by the US against the Vietnamese during the war.

Prospective customers were invited to “settle into a booth or bunker down at the bar,” adding “there’s no smoke without fire”.

The bar, which opened up in a part of the city known as ‘Little Saigon’ due to its high population of Vietnamese residents, has faced calls for its boycott following the incident.

Liminal magazine – an online space aimed at exploring and celebrating the Asian-Australian experience – wrote on Twitter: “Imagine a war where over a million people died, & then imagine deciding to create an aesthetic out of it, to sell cocktails filled with bullet shells, with an Agent Orange theme.

“In a year where anti-Asian racism has risen dramatically, this bar has opened *in Richmond*, a suburb with a strong Vietnamese population, including people who would have *literally fled this war*. This is horrific.”

Another user wrote on Instagram: “Just gonna say it louder for those out the back: VIETNAM WAR ERA IS NOT AN AESTHETIC.

“You are trivialising other people’s trauma.

“My family is still suffering PTSD and you thought it was a good idea to capitalise on their pain.”

The bar has since removed its website and all images from its social media account.


On Wednesday morning, it posted an image on Instagram which reads: “We have taken down our content and apologise to anyone that was offended or found the content inappropriate.

“We have revised our tone and are working hard to make this right.”

It added: “Sorry for any distress caused – it was never our intent.”

The Vietnam War began in 1955 and went on for almost 20 years.

It claimed the lives of at least 1.3 million people, with unexploded landmines and traces of Agent Orange continuing to cause deaths and illness throughout Vietnam.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Asian people have experienced a major surge in violent attacks and hate crime across the US, Australia and UK.

Police data indicated a 300 per cent increase in hate crime reports from British Chinese, East and South East Asians in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2018 and 2019.

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