China and Inner Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - A Chinese Odyssey: Reinventing Masculinity in the Rewriting of a Chinese Classic

Thursday, March 22
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Location: Roosevelt Room 4, Exhibit Level

Stephen Chow films have developed a cult following among Chinese communities in Hong Kong, Mainland China and beyond. Despite his popularity among audiences, Chow is largely neglected by academic writing. Limited literature on Chow often reads him as a spokesperson for the grassroots desire to maintain Hong Kong’s local identity, and has not touched upon gender issues in his films. This paper explores the interrelations between youth culture, gender politics, and local/national politics embedded in Chow’s films, against the backdrop of Hong Kong’s 1997 handover and its film market crisis in the mid 1990s. The examination focuses on the constant transmutations of the male bodies, as well as the continuously inventions of masculine identities of two main characters—Sun Wukong (the Monkey) and Tang Seng (the monk)—in the Dahua xiyou series (A Chinese Odyssey), which consist of three films made in the span of two decades from 1995 to 2015. I argue that the popularity of the Dahua largely depends on Chow’s successful marketing to Chinese youth the metamorphosing masculine subject as a metaphor. The metaphor mainly functions on two levels: first, as metaphor of the transmuted Hong Kong local identity, which delivers subtle political messages of subversiveness; second, as metaphor of the reinventability of masculinity, which provides a coping strategy for masculinity in crisis. 

Jun Lei

Texas A & M University, Texas

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3 - A Chinese Odyssey: Reinventing Masculinity in the Rewriting of a Chinese Classic



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