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Title: Queer latent images, post-loyalism, and the Cold War : the case of an early sinophone star, Bai Yun
Authors: Hee, Wai Siam
Keywords: Humanities::History
Issue Date: 2020
Source: Hee, W. S. (2020). Queer latent images, post-loyalism, and the Cold War : the case of an early sinophone star, Bai Yun. Cultural Critique, 108(Summer 2020), 94-124.
Project: RG73/17
Journal: Cultural Critique
Abstract: This essay applies Sinophone theory and star theory to set the career of early Sinophone star Bai Yun (1916-1982) in its Second Sino-Japanese War to Cold War context, using materials from early newspapers, magazines, Bai Yun’s own writings, and memoirs to analyze his alternative queer latent images and Chineseness. The essay uses a post-loyalist perspective to examine Malaya-born Bai Yun’s diaspora experience, which spanned Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and S.E. Asia. It discusses Bai Yun’s various displaced and decadent diaspora experiences as a post-loyalist of Chineseness, and explores how his amorous exploits upturned the upright orthodoxy of modern Chinese nationalism. His success was accompanied by a chorus of derision and mocking. Bai Yun’s “girlish” pin-up star image, queer latent images, and amorous history challenged the hegemony of masculinity and homogeneity within Chinese Nationalism. The essay also applies star theory to analyze Bai Yun’s career and reverse publicity methods, examining the formation of Bai Yun as a consumption phenomenon in the early Sinophone cultural sphere. On screen, he performed with the stylings of a traditional Chinese feminine dashing young scholar; off screen, he frequently created scandals involving other male and female stars as part of a reverse publicity strategy. This called up and constructed an on-screen persona with a queer latent image. While he successfully attracted controversy and the gaze of the audience, he also enraged the nationalist patriarchal socio-cultural order that the modern media of the KMT and CCP wished to maintain. His case subverts the primary-subordinate relationship of “roots” and “routes” as seen in diaspora Chinese discourse, embodying how the needs, dreams, and collective unconscious of early Sinophone audiences were encoded, mediated, or repressed by Chinese Nationalism and the various ideologies of the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese Civil War, and the Cold War. Bai Yun’s multilingual identity enabled him to weave between films in Mandarin, Cantonese, and Amoy. A life spent travelling between Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Taiwan also saw him become one of the few Sinophone stars in the Cold War era with the ability to link the four major Sinophone regions: Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and S.E. Asia.
ISSN: 0882-4371
DOI: 10.1353/cul.2020.0022
Rights: © 2020 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
Fulltext Permission: none
Fulltext Availability: No Fulltext
Appears in Collections:SoH Journal Articles

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