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Celebrity in China

Celebrity in China

Louise Edwards
Elaine Jeffreys
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 300
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  • Book Info
    Celebrity in China
    Book Description:

    Celebrity is a pervasive aspect of everyday life and a growing field of academic inquiry. While there is now a substantial body of literature on celebrity culture in Australia, Europe and the Americas, this is the first book-length exploration of celebrity in China. It examines how international norms of celebrity production interact with those operating in China. The book comprises case studies from popular culture (film, music, dance, literature, internet), official culture (military, political, and moral exemplars) and business celebrities. This breadth provides readers with insights into the ways capitalism and communism converge in the elevation of particular individuals to fame in contemporary China. The book also points to areas where Chinese conceptions of fame and celebrity are unique.

    eISBN: 978-988-220-522-2
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. List of Contributors
    (pp. ix-xii)
  6. 1 Celebrity/China
    (pp. 1-20)
    Elaine Jeffreys and Louise Edwards

    Celebrity is a pervasive aspect of everyday life and a growing field of academic inquiry. There is now a substantial body of literature on celebrity culture in Australia, Europe and the Americas. This literature covers a wide variety of fields, including: film, literature, popular music, political, and sports stardom; celebrity CEOs, and the relationship between the media and celebrity.¹ All of these texts seek to understand why the production and consumption of celebrity has become such a common feature of life in recent decades. Some commentators regard celebrity as epitomizing the trivial and deplorable aspects of popular culture (e.g. Boorstin...

  7. 2 Military Celebrity in China: The Evolution of ‘Heroic and Model Servicemen’
    (pp. 21-44)
    Louise Edwards

    A key aspect of celebrity and fame production in China is the extensive involvement of the Party-state. In most other parts of the world, privately owned media corporations assume the dominant role in the creation and production of famous individuals and stars. But, in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Chinese government is a key player in the cultural industries sector. Indeed, in the military realm the Party-state led by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is the predominant creator of celebrated and famous individuals. Individual military figures are propelled to national fame in China through the Party-state’s powerful publicity...

  8. 3 China’s Celebrity Mothers: Female Virtues, Patriotism and Social Harmony
    (pp. 45-66)
    Yingjie Guo

    For most of China’s imperial history, the state, the family and the individual were considered the three key building blocks of the social system. As Mencius (372–289–BCE) wrote: ‘the foundation of the world lies in the state, the foundation of the state lies in the family, and the foundation of the family lies in the individual’ (Mengzi IV A: 5). Followers of Confucianism also believed that the family and state were ‘perfect forms of social organization’ because they were based on the truest moral principles such as benevolence, rightness, loyalty and filial piety. Hence, traditional Chinese statecraft sought...

  9. 4 Accidental Celebrities: China’s Chastity Heroines and Charity
    (pp. 67-84)
    Elaine Jeffreys

    From 1997 to the present day, the Chinese media has covered the stories of more than 30 young women who have leapt from the windows of highstorey buildings, often resulting in serious physical injuries, to escape being forced into prostitution.¹ Four of these women — Tang Shengli, Hong Zhaodi, Dong Shujun, and Liu Qinqin — were portrayed as accidental celebrities. This term refers to ordinary members of the public whose misfortune, bravery or good luck, makes them an object of media fascination and a celebrity-commodity for a short period of time, and ‘through a process over which they can have very little...

  10. 5 Celebrity Philanthropy: The Cultivation of China’s HIV/AIDS Heroes
    (pp. 85-102)
    Johanna Hood

    Over the past several decades there has been a rapid increase in celebrity advocacy on issues of Western humanitarian concern, particularly concepts of democracy, human rights and health. This has been facilitated by the establishment of major international development bodies, which became conduits for channelling aid and exerting power after World War II, such as the United Nations (UN), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank. Celebrity advocacy in Euro-American societies also has been assisted by the popularization of television, which provided a new and accessible medium through which celebrities could become known, and establish their fan bases....

  11. 6 Jet Li: ‘Wushu Master’ in Sport and Film
    (pp. 103-124)
    Mary Farquhar

    Like the Western world, China now has a celebrity industry that measures commercial value and popular appeal. In 2004 Forbes released its first Chinese celebrities list (Fubusi Zhongguo mingren). Film star Jet Li (Li Lianjie) topped the list of 100 in terms of income after more than two decades of stardom in both sports and film. No doubt his starring role in Zhang Yimou’s martial arts blockbuster, Hero (Yingxiong 2002, 2004), fed his income and star status in China and overseas. But, as the People’s Daily reported, he was not ‘the hottest’ Mainland celebrity (‘Jet Li tops Forbes list’ 2004)....

  12. 7 Literary Celebrity in China: From Reformers to Rebels
    (pp. 125-144)
    Shuyu Kong

    The evolution of literary celebrity in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since the nation’s move towards a market-based economy in 1978 provides a remarkable index of cultural change. In the early 1980s, writers were often referred to as ‘cultural workers’ (wenhua gongzuozhe) and ‘soul engineers’ (linghun gongchengshi) and, as state employees, were charged with the essential task of propagating the official line of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and carrying out social engineering for the Party-state. Consequently, they generally enjoyed stable and well-paid jobs, privileged social status and many other social benefits alongside their fame. In that context, writers...

  13. 8 Flexible Celebrity: A Half-Century of Miao Pop
    (pp. 145-168)
    Louisa Schein

    This chapter traces three moments of celebrity of minority female popular singers over the last half-century. All three are members of the Miao ethnic group, one of the largest minorities, or minzu, in China. The Miao number over nine million and are centred in the southwest province of Guizhou, but spread over seven other provinces. Historically agriculturalists by livelihood, with their own language, religion and cultural practices, instances of Miao entry into the currents of mainstream popular culture become particularly illuminating of some aspects of contemporary China’s cultural politics.

    The first singer, Luo Xiuying, was prominent as early as the...

  14. 9 Jin Xing: China’s Transsexual Star of Dance
    (pp. 169-192)
    Gloria Davies and M. E. Davies

    If we accept Daniel Boorstin’s observation that a ‘definable, publicizable personality’ (1972: 156) is crucial to the construction of a celebrity, and that the term celebrity is largely synonymous with being famous (as opposed to being infamous), then transsexual dancer, choreographer and actor Jin Xing has achieved an iconic status that perhaps even exceeds the banality of simply being famous. She is best known internationally for her widely acclaimed achievements in dance and choreography and her transsexuality is, in many ways, incidental to her success as an artist. Yet, it is arguably the issue of Jin Xing’s transsexuality that has...

  15. 10 China’s Celebrity Entrepreneurs: Business Models for ‘Success’
    (pp. 193-216)
    David J. Davies

    In 1992, during his tour through the booming export production zones of southern China, the architect of China’s post-Mao economic reforms, Deng Xiaoping, famously declared: ‘to get rich is glorious’ and he also agreed to ‘let some get rich first’. These statements, along with others of the period, played a role in erasing socialism and guaranteeing the nation’s shift from a centralized economy to one based on market mechanisms. They also shifted the subject of national development from that of the masses of ‘the people’ to the entrepreneurial individual. Chinese were no longer marching together along the ‘great road’ of...

  16. 11 China’s Internet Celebrity: Furong Jiejie
    (pp. 217-236)
    I. D. Roberts

    This chapter considers the new phenomenon of ‘Internet celebrity’ in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), taking the unprecedented rise of female celebrity blogger ‘Furong Jiejie’, also known as ‘Sister Hibiscus’ or ‘Sister Lotus’, as a case study.¹ Furong Jiejie is the most well-known pseudonym of Shi Hengxia, a young woman from Shaanxi province with a workingclass background, who became famous throughout China over the course of 2003–05 after posting photographs of herself appearing in ‘sexually assertive’ (though fully clothed) poses on university bulletin boards, and subsequently on her personal websites. Although Furong Jiejie is widely considered by her...

  17. Notes
    (pp. 237-242)
  18. References
    (pp. 243-276)
  19. Index
    (pp. 277-286)