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Policing Sexuality: Confession, Power, and the Heterosexist Authority in East Palace, West Palace

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This article examines the changes in the Chinese government’s attitude to homosexuality in the last 20 years, in relation to the Zhand Yuan’s film East Palace, West Palace (1996). It argues that the real controversy of the movie lies in the power relationship between the heterosexual male authority and gay men, which is illustrated by the police officer and the gay writer he catches in the park. This paper will first examine the figure of the heterosexist authority and its disciplinary power. Following the discussion of the heterosexist authority’s potential homosexuality, the paper will further illustrate how the gay man plots and stages a sadomasochistic play during the police questioning. Finally, this paper will focus on the verbal exchange between the police officer and the gay man during the interrogation to discuss the power relationship between the heterosexist authority and gay men.

Keywords: authority; discipline; heterosexuality; homosexuality; power relationship; sadomasochism

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Publication date: March 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • Asian Cinema is a seminal journal, which has been published since 1995 by the Asian Cinema Studies Society under the stewardship of Professor John Lent. From 2012 Asian Cinema will be published by Intellect as part of our Film Studies journal portfolio. The journal currently publishes a variety of scholarly material - including research articles, interviews, book and film reviews and bibliographies - on all forms and aspects of Asian cinema. The journal's broad aim is to advance understanding and knowledge of the rich traditions of the various Asian cinemas, thereby making an invaluable contribution to the field of Film Studies in general.
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