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Masculinity in Popular Culture

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Kate Taylor-Jones

on 18 March 2016

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Transcript of Masculinity in Popular Culture

Masculinity in Popular Culture
Case Study: Tony Leung Chiu-wai/梁朝偉

Workshop: Tortured Masculinity in post-1997 Hong Kong: Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Chang Chen and Leslie Chung.

Questions to be explore:

How does gender and popular culture interact?
How can ‘stars’ chart changes in cultural approaches to gender?
What form of masculinity do we most often see in East Asian Cinema?
What can it represent in both a cultural and an historical analysis?

Screening: Happy Together (2009, Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong) warning graphic sex scene.


Kam Louie (2012). Popular Culture and Masculinity Ideals in East Asia, with Special Reference to China. The Journal of Asian Studies, 71, pp 929-943

Laikwan Pang (2002) Masculinity in Crisis: Films of Milkyway Image and Post-1997 Hong Kong Cinema, Feminist Media Studies, 2:3, 325-340

Further Reading:

Pang, Laikwan (2005) Masculinities in Hong Kong Cinema, Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
Theorising Masculinity and the power of a star
‘is a bit like air—you breathe it in all the time, but you arent aware of it much’ (Dyer, 1985:28)

Masculinity is at once everywhere and yet nowhere, known and yet unknowable, had and yet un-have-able.

Study of masculinty in academic still remains marginal BUT it is a growing trend.
'masculinity' does not refer to a male nature but instead imitates a dominant regulatory fiction authorizing the continued representation of certain types of gender performances for men (like the breadwinner), marginalizing others (like the momma's boy), and forbidding still others (like the homosexual). (Cohan 1995:57) (WESTERN CONTEXT...)

In Chinese context too often been focuse on yin/yang. This means you are male or female but that is rather limiting esp. in the Chinese context you can be both so you cannot explain sexual difference in this way.
Louie Kam in the Chinese context sees masculinty as divided into Wu (martial valour) and Wen (cultural attainment.
These are specifically MALE attirbutes (women can have them if they first become men - ie. the cross dressing feamle warrior)
Sardom therefor become a key marker of a vision of masculinity and the time and space in which it is situated.
Star as construct as three component parts (Gledhill, 1991, 204):
1. the real person
2. the reel person
3. star as sign

Also....Star as deviant!

Diagetic and non-diagetic
Meaning changes and mutates over time and space.

Star as construct


Authenticated by the media
Markers of their own authenticity and thus are involved in their own MYTH-MAKING

Dyer (1986:2-4) notes that there is a multi-facted star image.
1. what the industry says
2. what the wider media say
3. what the star says
4. what the audience say

more than image - they MAKE MEANING


Hong Kong 1997

In his study of John Woo’s Hong Kong productions made before 1997, Julian Stringer concludes that Woo’s 􏰜lms are apocalyptic and despairing because under the current political situation, “Hong Kong action cinema ... cannot provide the system within which any new masculinity can be reconsolidated” (1997: 40).

So....why does Pang suggest Milkyway is a good case study?

Concern about:
Financial Crisis
Return to PRC
influx of mainland citizens
Fear for the future
Fear for civil and social liberty
TVB Five Tiger in the 1980s

Long working relationship with Wong Kar-Wai
- Happy Together, In the Mood for Love, 4046, Chungking Express, Ashes of Time, Grandmaster etc.

Worked on small art features and mass epics

Very often a marker of a problematic masculinity

Essays due 15th April.

You can email me but there will be delay on some days over the Easter as I am away.

Ensure you proof read and reference correctly....

Don't eat too much chocolate you will be sick.

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