How Far Can We Go: Popular Film and TV Drama in Post-1989 China
Ho, Wing Shan
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Ho, Wing Shan
My dissertation addresses two major issues in Chinese contemporary film and TV studies: the first is the proliferations of new forms of subjectivities and the state’s attempt to regulate them via the construction of an ideal citizenship on the film and TV screen; the second is to develop an approach to understand the political economy of screen culture (yingshi wenhua), as well as freedom and control in post-1989 China. My project investigates key contemporary state-sponsored (zhuxuanlü) and state-criticized/banned screen products as a way to explore socialist values advanced by the Chinese Communist Party, as well as the ways in which and the extent to which individuals are able to challenge them. The ways in which my project contributes to the fields of film and TV studies in China are fourfold. First, close readings of selected films and TV dramas inform us of three emergent forms of subjectivity that were previously theorized as a synthesized sublime subject. Second, I conceptualize qualities of the on-screen socialist spirit that the state uses to counteract the three new forms of subjectivity and maintain its superiority. Third, by discussing the state’s intervention and control on production and consumption of screen products, I reveal the state’s vested interests and individuals’ execution of agency in popular culture. This emphasis on state-individual interactions challenges the current focus on TV and film as merely a profit-oriented industry; it also unravels conflicted ideologies in screen products and questions the understanding of popular culture as mainstream culture. Fourth, by achieving the above tasks, my research exposes that the state’s tolerance of its citizens’ partial freedom is for the purpose of political stability.