A Shifting Gender Regime in Contemporary China? Fans’ Queer Readings of the Film Ne Zha

Abstract

The animation film Ne Zha was a hit in the summer of 2019 in Chinese cyberspace. The film generated a lot discussion and user generated content from online fans. This is due largely to the film’s nuanced depiction of the relationship between its protagonist Ne Zha and his friend/enemy, Ao Bing. The homosocial/homoerotic undertone in their interactions had provoked the production and distribution of various forms of gay-themed fan art (drawings, remixed short videos, photo-shopped pictures, etc.) regarding the two characters across the internet. This phenomenon is all the more thought-provoking when situated in China’s particular cultural environment, where depictions of non-heterosexualities or behaviors online are officially prohibited, inviting thorough scholarly scrutiny. Taking a post-modernist feminist perspective, this study examines fan-produced drawings and pictures of the film Ne Zha on Douban.com, one of the top rating websites in China. By interpreting selected fan works through semiotics, the study aims to explore representations of the two characters in these works, the extent to which they comply with and/or diverge from China’s existing gender norms, and their role in negotiating with China’s shifting and contesting cyberspace and gender ideology at large.



Author Information
Xiaofei Yang, RMIT University, Australia
Zhuying Li, RMIT University, Australia

Paper Information
Conference: BAMC2020
Stream: Gender

This paper is part of the BAMC2020 Conference Proceedings (View)
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