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Uneven ModernityLiterature, Film, and Intellectual Discourse in Postsocialist China$
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Haomin Gong

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780824835316

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824835316.001.0001

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Commerce and the Critical Edge

Commerce and the Critical Edge

The Politics of Postsocialist Film and the Case of Feng Xiaogang

(p.85) Chapter 4 Commerce and the Critical Edge
Uneven Modernity

Haomin Gong

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines how postsocialist China's uneven social and cultural conditions shape the field of commercial filmmaking by focusing on the work of Feng Xiaogang. Before expounding on the relationship between unevenness and commercial filmmaking in Feng's case, the chapter looks at the social space in postsocialist China as represented in his films. It then discusses the major focus of Feng's films—common people's everyday lives—and especially how these characters reflect and respond to the uneven sociocultural features that determine the field of commercial filmmaking. It also considers Feng's use of humor in his films, three of which are A Sigh (2000), Cell Phone (2003), and A World Without Thieves (2004). The chapter shows that the trajectory of Feng's filmography exhibits a possible and effective form of cultural intervention in the age of popular culture. Feng's films reveal a cultural paradox of postsocialist China: while they embed the director's critique of social problems amid uneven conditions, they take advantage of all-encompassing commercialization.

Keywords:   postsocialist China, commercial filmmaking, Feng Xiaogang, unevenness, social space, film, cultural intervention, social problems, commercialization, humor

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