Has China in the 1980s gone through a phase of "youth rebellion"
comparable with that represented in films such as Rebel Without
a Cause (1954), Look Back in Anger (1959) or Easy
Rider (1969)? The present study is an attempt to look for
evidence in the "youth-rebellion" films produced over that period
of time that may help to answer the question.
In the last twenty years of the twentieth century, the People's
Republic of China underwent profound transformations, of which the
changing situation of youth was particularly striking. In a society
that has traditionally assumed respect for age, the prominence of
youth and their new autonomy were conspicuous. A young generation
born on the eve of and growing up during the Cultural Revolution
(1966-1976) came to depart from the established
social norms by the late 1980s and were considered "rebels,"
standing in an antagonistic relationship with mainstream ideology.
Young Rebels in Contemporary Chinese Cinema analyzes the
construction of "youth culture" in 1980s China by examining
young-rebel films in terms of three areas: products (rock 'n' roll
music), belief (or lack of it) and mode of behaviour. The study
also contexualizes these films by tracing the relationship between
changes in politics and changes in film from the 1950s to the
present, with particular reference to the altered portrayal of
young adults in the 1980s.
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