Book Cover

China Pop!

Pop Culture, Propaganda, Pacific Pop-Ups

Sheng-mei Ma

274 pp. 6 x 9
39 illustrations
EXPECTED Pub Date: November, 2024

Subjects: Asian & Asian American Studies
Film & Media

Preorder Hardcover $119.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-1576-0
Preorder Paperback $36.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-5930-6

“With remarkable depth and breadth, China Pop! offers a timely exploration of the intricacies, dynamics, and tensions in Chinese millennial popular culture both within and beyond the national border. In this valuable and fascinating contribution to the limited literature on contemporary Chinese pop culture, Ma convincingly analyzes the duality and dialectics inherent in propaganda, the doubling motif, the aesthetics of the uncanny, the cleaving of Chineseness, and more. A stroke of genius.” —Jin Liu, author of Signifying the Local: Media Productions Rendered in Local Languages in Mainland China in the New Millennium

In China Pop!, Sheng-mei Ma analyzes the propaganda-laced millennial Chinese pop culture—particularly TV dramas, films, and web novels—that streams online for over one billion Sinophone consumers in China and in the diaspora. In part 1, Ma lays bare the “seductive art of propaganda” by reviewing TV series aired during the Chinese Communist Party Centennial in 2021 and the ways pop culture and propaganda are spliced. In part 2, he zeroes in on how the shared traumatic shock of the Cultural Revolution continues to echo. Parts 3 and 4 cross the Pacific to incorporate analysis of media originating outside of China, such as white depictions of revolutionary zeal and Asian American portrayals of immigrant characters that fetishize Asianness and reanimate stereotypes.

With methodological daring, Ma challenges existing scholarship by blending the professional and the personal through a lively and accessible autotheoretical approach. China Pop! walks the East-West cultural tightrope to critique a wide range of pop culture from both sides of the Pacific and sheds new light on the workings of propaganda on its intended audiences and its wider, more subtle reaches in both political and cultural spheres.

Sheng-mei Ma is Professor of English at Michigan State University and author of over a dozen books, including The Tao of S: America’s Chinee & the Chinese Century in Literature and Film, Asian Diaspora and East-West Modernity, East-West Montage: Reflections on Asian Bodies in Diaspora, and The Deathly Embrace: Orientalism and Asian American Identity.

Contents Acknowledgments


Part 1   Chinese Pop Culture and Propaganda

Chapter 1        The Art of Propaganda: Some TV Series circa the Chinese Communist Party Centennial
Chapter 2        Triangulating TV Series of Melodramatic Dialectic “with Chinese Characteristics”: Gamblin’ Professionals in Cities; Goth and Darwin in the Wild West
Chapter 3        The Ghost of Guimi from Imperial to Millennial China

Part 2   On the Cultural Revolution

Chapter 4        Six Million Jews and How Many Chinese: “Ten-Year Holocaust” of the Cultural Revolution
Chapter 5        The Subtitle Wagging the Screen: The Untranslated and One Second
Chapter 6        Laosanjie Peers back at the Red Sun: Zhang Yimou of the “Chain Gang”

Part 3   White Pop-Ups

Chapter 7        Brechtian AlienAsian: Socialist ex Machina from The Good Woman of Setzuan and David Hare’s Fanshen
Chapter 8        Love in a Falling City: David Hare’s Saigon and the Musical Miss Saigon
Chapter 9        Eastern Witch from the West: Xianniang in Niki Caro’s Mulan

Part 4   Off-White Pop-Ups

Chapter 10      Chinatown Comedy unto Itself
Chapter 11      Southern Woe, Minority Lens: Ride with Woodrell–Schamus–Ang Lee
Chapter 12      Bipolar America: The Anti-Asian versus Minari
Coda    Refugees with Guns, Laobing with Phallus: Ghost of Taiwan circa 1949

Works Cited

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