The politics of images: Chinese cinema in the context of globalization
This dissertation explores the interaction between filmmaking and the changing exigencies of leftist political ideologies in China at different stages of modernity: semi-colonial modernity, socialist modernity, and global modernity. Besides a historical examination of the left-wing cinema movement in the 1930s and socialist cinema in the Mao era, it focuses on the so-called "main melody" films that are either produced with financial backing by the state or sanctioned by governmental film awards in 1990s China. As products of globalization, Chinese "main melody" films are growing in complexity and maturity with the deepening of globalization, especially in competition with Hollywood cinema. Inspired by Louis Althusser, this dissertation attempts to address the lacunae of existing scholarship on Chinese "main melody" films by analyzing the role of the film medium as a significant ideological state apparatus (ISA) in serving ideological transitions occurring in 1990s China. Meanwhile, it also examines how the operation of the ideological mechanism in Chinese "main melody" films is different from the Althusserian definition. An examination of the polyphonic narration of history shows how the revolutionary history has been retold in "main melody" films in different ways to create a rich discursive space in post-socialist China. Special attention has also been paid to the cinematic representation of Chinese nationalism, contending that the instigation of nationalism in non-EuroAmerican societies--despite the fact that nationalism can be easily appropriated by the state as an effective ideological discourse to conceal domestic social conflicts--calls attention to the often ignored historical linkages between colonialism and the expanding global capitalism. In addition, it also examines the role of Chinese intellectuals in the discursive construction of nationalism. An analysis of Chinese masculinity shows that recent changes in gender discourse are closely related to China's socio-economic development in the era of globalization. Based on Stuart Hall's "encoding/decoding" model, the last part of this dissertation explores how the Chinese spectator as a subject can negotiate the ideological interpellation by the "main melody" film text in his/her own way.