“Youth Drama,” Social Change, and the Postrevolution Search for Idealism
This chapter focuses on Chinese youth drama, a subgenre on television that offers yet another interesting example of mainstream culture’s representations of social contradictions and ideological tensions. It examines three types of well-received Chinese-made youth dramas and their best-known texts. First, it considers the dramas by the so-called master of Chinese youth drama, Hai Yan. It explores the representations shared by the young characters and the social and ideological implications of the commonality in Hai Yan’s dramas. Second, it examines the phenomenon of “post-youth” youth drama, which refer to dramas that focus on the generation of Chinese who grew up during the Mao era but who encountered significant changes in their lives during the post-Mao era. It looks at the ambivalence expressed within those dramas in which their main characters live through two sharply different eras. Third, the chapter examines “counteridol” youth drama, in particular one of its latest representatives, Shibing tuji (Soldiers, be ready, 2007). Focusing on its main character, Xu Sanduo, and the popular following this unlikely hero has generated, it speculates on why an unconventional “youth idol” has successfully captured the public’s imagination.
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