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Celebrity in China

Louise Edwards, Elaine Jeffreys

Publication Year: 2010

Celebrity is a pervasive aspect of everyday life and a growing field of academic inquiry. While there is now a substantial body of literature on celebrity culture in Australia, Europe and the Americas, this is the first book-length exploration of celebrity in China. It examines how international norms of celebrity production interact with those operating in China. The book comprises case studies from popular culture (film, music, dance, literature, internet), official culture (military, political, and moral exemplars) and business celebrities. This breadth provides readers with insights into the ways capitalism and communism converge in the elevation of particular individuals to fame in contemporary China. The book also points to areas where Chinese conceptions of fame and celebrity are unique.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU


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pp. v-vi

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1. Celebrity/China

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pp. 11-20

Celebrity is a pervasive aspect of everyday life and a growing field of academic inquiry. There is now a substantial body of literature on celebrity culture in Australia, Europe and the Americas. This literature covers a wide variety of fields, including: film, literature, popular music, political, and sports stardom; celebrity CEOs, and the relationship ...

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2. Military Celebrity in China: The Evolution of ‘Heroic and Model Servicemen’

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pp. 21-43

A key aspect of celebrity and fame production in China is the extensive involvement of the Party-state. In most other parts of the world, privately owned media corporations assume the dominant role in the creation and production of famous individuals and stars. But, in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Chinese government is a key player in the cultural ...

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3. China’s Celebrity Mothers: Female Virtues, Patriotism and Social Harmony

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pp. 45-66

For most of China’s imperial history, the state, the family and the individual were considered the three key building blocks of the social system. As Mencius (372–289–BCE) wrote: ‘the foundation of the world lies in the state, the foundation of the state lies in the family, and the foundation of the family lies in the individual’ (Mengzi IV A: 5). ...

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4. Accidental Celebrities: China’s Chastity Heroines and Charity

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pp. 67-84

From 1997 to the present day, the Chinese media has covered the stories of more than 30 young women who have leapt from the windows of high-storey buildings, often resulting in serious physical injuries, to escape being forced into prostitution.1 Four of these women — Tang Shengli, accidental celebrities. This term refers to ordinary members of the public ...

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5. Celebrity Philanthropy: The Cultivation of China’s HIV/AIDS Heroes

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pp. 85-102

Because you are a celebrity, the common people recognize you. You utter one word, do one thing, and you have the power to have an influence. This ability to have an effect [on people] comes with being a celebrity. ...

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6. Jet Li: ‘Wushu Master’ in Sport and Film

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pp. 103-123

Like the Western world, China now has a celebrity industry that measures commercial value and popular appeal. In 2004 Forbes released its first Chinese celebrities list (Fubusi Zhongguo mingren). Film star Jet Li (Li Lianjie) topped the list of 100 in terms of income after more than two decades of stardom in both sports and film....

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7. Literary Celebrity in China: From Reformers to Rebels

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pp. 125-143

The evolution of literary celebrity in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since the nation’s move towards a market-based economy in 1978 provides a remarkable index of cultural change. In the early 1980s, writers were often referred to as ‘cultural workers’ (wenhua gongzuozhe) and ‘soul engineers’ (linghun gongchengshi) and, as state employees, were charged with ...

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8. Flexible Celebrity: A Half-Century of Miao Pop

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pp. 145-168

This chapter traces three moments of celebrity of minority female popular singers over the last half-century. All three are members of the Miao ethnic group, one of the largest minorities, or minzu, in China. The Miao number over nine million and are centred in the southwest province of Guizhou, but spread over seven other provinces. Historically ...

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9. Jin Xing: China’s Transsexual Star of Dance

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pp. 168-191

If we accept Daniel Boorstin’s observation that a ‘definable, publicizable personality’ (1972: 156) is crucial to the construction of a celebrity, and that the term celebrity is largely synonymous with being famous (as opposed to being infamous), then transsexual dancer, choreographer and actor Jin Xing has achieved an iconic status that perhaps even exceeds ...

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10. China’s Celebrity Entrepreneurs: Business Models for ‘Success’

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pp. 193-216

In 1992, during his tour through the booming export production zones of southern China, the architect of China’s post-Mao economic reforms, Deng Xiaoping, famously declared: ‘to get rich is glorious’ and he also agreed to ‘let some get rich first’. These statements, along with others of ...

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11. China’s Internet Celebrity: Furong Jiejie

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pp. 217-236

This chapter considers the new phenomenon of ‘Internet celebrity’ in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), taking the unprecedented rise of female celebrity blogger ‘Furong Jiejie’, also known as ‘Sister Hibiscus’ or ‘Sister Lotus’, as a case study.1 Furong Jiejie is the most well-known pseudonym of Shi Hengxia, a young woman from Shaanxi province with a working-...


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pp. 237-242


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pp. 243-275


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pp. 277-286

E-ISBN-13: 9789882205222
Print-ISBN-13: 9789622090873

Page Count: 300
Illustrations: 9 b/w photos
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Fame -- Social aspects -- China.
  • Popular culture -- China.
  • Celebrities -- China.
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