Creating New Spaces: Constructing and Performing Gender in Mandarin-Language Popular Music of the People’s Republic of China, Post-1997 公开

Carnes, Mallory (Spring 2018)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/rf55z7692?locale=zh
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Abstract

This thesis explores gender as a primary domain of innovation for artists and audiences of Mandarin-language popular music (Mandopop) in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). I examine how PRC-based performers, as they experiment with new gender identities and create new spaces in which to embody these identities, are charting new paths for the once-conservative Chinese music industry. Drawing on interviews with listeners in Shanghai conducted over 15 days of fieldwork during May 2017, I show that PRC-based Mandopop audiences are receptive to artists’ experimentations with gender performance, and readily consume music that reflects an increasingly broad spectrum of gender identities. Moving beyond entrenched scholarly debates about Chinese artists’ imitations of their counterparts in the United States (Huang 2001), Japan (Otmazgin 2014), Korea (Pease 2009), and Taiwan (Moskowitz 2010), I argue that Mandopop performers in the PRC engage in creativity around gender in order to present themselves to the outside world as modern and cosmopolitan. I begin with a discussion of the various historical and political factors that have shaped understandings of gender in contemporary PRC Mandopop, with particular emphasis on the ways in which the recent economic boom and technological developments have encouraged gendered patterns of consumption. I will also describe and analyze some common gendered terms, such as lamei, ke’ai, and wenrou. In the following chapter, I highlight some of the most influential (and gender-diverse) girl bands and boy bands in the PRC to explore how they innovate with new gender identities. Finally, I present a case study of singer JJ Lin’s album Ta Shuo to illustrate the ways in which the PRC audience is receptive to artists’ individual creativity. The evidence presented in this thesis suggests the need for a reassessment of the concept of individual creativity in Mandopop in the PRC, with the goal of restoring agency to Mandopop artists and consumers who live in dialogue with a society that has moved away from its premodern collectivistic history and entered an era in which individualism is increasingly recognized and valued.

Table of Contents

Introduction and Methodology………………………………………………………………………………………………….1

Chapter 1: Capitalism in the PRC and its Impact on Performance of Gender……………………………18

Chapter 2: Girl Bands and Boy Bands – Gendered Groups in Mandopop………………………………….48

Chapter 3: Finding “She” in “She Says” – JJ Lin’s Ta Shuo…………………………………………………………74

Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….99

Appendix 1: Figures……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….105

Appendix 2: Interview Questions……………………………………………………………………………………………106

Works Referenced………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….107

Bibliography…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..109

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