Issue 8: Celebrity, Performance, and Gender

May 5, 2018


In our eighth issue of WAGIC, we explore questions of gender and sexuality in China’s celebrity industry. We are interested in how stars and idols across music, film, literature, sports, online and all other arenas of fame and public performance in China reflect, enact, conform to and/or transgress social norms and state-promoted ideals relating to gender and sexuality.


We asked out contributors to share their insights on these issues with respect to media representations of celebrity weddings and family life, queer fan culture, and gendered aspects of performance in China past and present.


In part one, Tracy Zhang examines the gender politics of modern magic in early 20th century China. She explores how stage magic promoted a particular form of masculinity and why this appealed to young educated men in China.


Part two, written by Ling Yang, takes a look at K-Pop masculinities and queer fantasies surrounding web reality talent shows in China. Yang explores how these shows have provided important spaces for challenging traditional norms around gender and sexuality and imagining new possibilities.


In part three, Wang reflects on celebrity Chinese-foreign marriages and divorces through the prism of gender, race and class, and how this has changed since the beginning of the reform era.


Part four comes from Françoise Robin and examines how the politics of gender play out in the celebrity industry in Contemporary Tibet.


In the fifth part of this issue, Dino Ge Zhang shares his thoughts on the rise of female casters or nüzhubo in live-streaming, and the gendered dimensions of wanghong more generally.


The final part of this issue comes from Johanna Hood and examines the 'first lady soft power' politics of Peng Liyuan. Looking at the cases of the Wenchuan and Lushan earthquakes, Hoods argues that understanding Peng as a gendered figure and the state’s role in her celebrity affairs, helps to make sense of her popular, frequently apolitical guise in contemporary China.










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