This thesis is the result of a historically and culturally specific project in Hong Kong, exploring the practices and discourse of multi-media stardom alongside the changing social and cultural landscapes, through an investigation of the key themes: image, performance and identity. I undertook fieldwork in Hong Kong in 2005 and carried out qualitative, cultural analysis of multi-media stardom as symbolic forms that embody patterns of meaning, in contrast to star studies that tend to be dominated by Hollywood examples and focus on the examination of texts without considering the specific contexts of production and consumption. This thesis explores the longstanding practices of multi-media stardom in Hong Kong and the discourse surrounding the key themes of image, performance and identity as they were influenced by the unique social and cultural contexts. It examines multi-media stardom as a prominent element of the indigenisation of popular culture in the 1970s in which social changes created a demand for local stars. Transformations in stardom were then mapped onto the unique history of the media industries, and political and economic contexts since 1980, culminating in a shift towards the increasing disjuncture between performances and image making from the mid-1990s onwards, alongside the disintegration of the mass market. Despite this shift, the close relationships between media and the fluid cross-media movements of the stars remained. The discourse of performance and identity continued to be associated with a previous generation of stars who acquired multi-faceted skills through long periods of training, a characteristic of the distinctive traditions of Chinese performance arts. Stars were symbolic markers of an imagined collective Hong Kong identity, which perpetuated a social mobility ideal constructed through a government endorsed cultural discourse that had continued since the post-war period. These stars were nostalgically articulated to an essential identity as Hong Kong subjects of a golden age, forming a part of the discursive construction of collectivity as a response to the post-1990s re-emergence of the cultural others. The thesis analyses the multi-media nature of stardom, the persistent discourse of a distinctive tradition of performance and an essential Hong Kong identity articulated to the indigenous stars, contextualised against the specific cultural and social backdrops.
|SOAS, University of London
|Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
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