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Diasporic Chinese family drama through a transnational lens: The Wedding Banquet (1993) and Saving Face (2004)

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The immigrant Chinese family has increasingly been represented in transnational Chinese cinema(s) over the past three decades. Two representative films, The Wedding Banquet (Lee, 1993) and Saving Face (Wu, 2004), are chosen to shed light on Chinese filmmakers' engagement with the complex process of identity formation for immigrants through the artifice of family conflict. Both movies examine how homosexuality can pose a threat to traditional Chinese family ethics such as filial piety, family continuity and family reputation, and how the seemingly incompatible ideological standpoints can be accommodated in the end. In both cases, on the one hand the depicted denial of homosexuality comes from its association with failed family education and bad ethnic and cultural practice, and its violation of traditional Chinese values. Therefore, sexuality becomes linked to the effect of Americanization and what it means to be Chinese. On the other hand, the 'undesirable' homosexual identity can be accepted or at least tolerated within the family as long as the family lineage is ensured, or the family remains intact. The disaporic subjects show us that submission to one's ethnicity can be modified or unlearned.
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Keywords: Alice Wu; Ang Lee; Chinese cinema; Chinese family; homosexuality; identity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000091169901 Nanjing University of Science and Technology

Publication date: September 1, 2019

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  • The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics is committed to analyzing the politics of communication(s) and cultural processes. It addresses cultural politics in their local, international and global dimensions, recognizing equally the importance of issues defined by their specific cultural geography and those that traverse cultures and nations.
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