Caught in the terrains: an inter-referential inquiry of trans-border stardom and fandom / Eva TSAI
This paper juxtaposes the predicaments of two popular stars in Asia whose mobility in their respective cultural fields became challenged by political sentiments in 2004. Chang Hui-Mei (A-Mei), the aboriginal pop diva from Taiwan, became the target of a protest organized by Chinese °•patriots°¶ before a performance in Hangzhou. The event set off a series of public debates involving high-level Taiwanese politicians, fans, and members of the public that recalled a similar controversy in 2000 when A-Mei was banned in China after singing at the inauguration of President Chen Shui-Bian. Some months later, Korean Wave star Song Seung-Heon became the subject of a draft-dodging investigation while he was shooting a highly anticipated TV drama, Sad Love Story. Support from different configurations of overseas fans poured in and remained strong even after he gave up the project and began his mandatory military service. Using these two parallel cases to reveal how politics and entertainment interact in Asia independent of stars°¶ volition, this paper investigates the affective investment and communication strategies of A-Mei°¶s cross-strait fans and Song°¶s Chinese-Asian fans during these emotion-laden circumstances. The inter-referential approach of this paper not only reveals the importance of considering patriotism as a latent (rather than exceptional) political and popular force in trans-Asian popular culture, but also reconfigures the relationships between the public, popular, and political in inter-Asia cultural traffic.
Eva Tsai is currently Assistant Professor at the Graduate Institute of Mass Communication, National Taiwan Normal University. Her past research work has appeared in the anthology, Feeling Asian Modernities (Hong Kong University Press, 2004), Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, and Inter-Asia Cultural Studies. She has a forthcoming article on Japanese scriptwriter Nozawa Hisashi in Japan Forum and a forthcoming chapter on stars and televisual culture in the anthology, Television, Japan, and Globalization (University of Michigan Press). She is researching stationery culture and writing a book about Japanese television drama writers.