Rescaling the local and the national: Trans-border production of Hong Kong TV dramas in mainland China
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AbstractNew media technologies enable a rapid flow of media materials across national borders. In recent years, studies have examined the processes, forms, difficulties, and impacts of these media flows, especially on the influence of foreign media on audiences and industries in the recipient countries.1 This chapter focuses on a particular aspect of trans-border media flow. It looks at the career histories and productions of two prominent Hong Kong TV workers: executive director Chik Kei-yi and script-supervisor Chow Yuk- Ming. We also trace the transformation of media representations of China together with changes in the production practices of Hong Kong television dramas. In the 1980s and 1990s, Hong Kong television dramas were very popular in South China, while Mainland dramas made no impact in Hong Kong schedules. This unidirectional flow of media content from Hong Kong to the Mainland has become more complex recently. A significant amount of Hong Kong production has relocated to the Mainland, and this has facilitated a concomitant flow of national geography and historical imageries into the Hong Kong mediascape. The consequence of these flows is what we call the rescaling of Hong Kong's TV drama production. The term "trans-border production" used in this chapter is unique to geo-cultural politics of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR). As everyone knows, Hong Kong is now constitutionally part of the People's Republic of China, albeit under a different administrative system known as "one country, two systems" (yiguo liangzhi). Elsewhere in the world, onlocation shooting in diverse parts of a nation is standard practice, and would not be considered "trans-border." However, Hong Kong's colonial history and sovereignty transfer add a distinctive cultural and political hue. In short, production in the Mainland becomes a unique trans-border practice. This will become clearer in the ensuing discussion of how the early TV drama output of Chik Kei-yi and Chow Yuk-Ming engaged with the formation of Hong Kong's identity and its differentiation from Mainland China. In effect, the 1997 reunification brought with it a discursive shift from "border" to "boundary" in describing cultural and geographical differentiations between the former colony and the motherland.2 After 1997 it became less a physical "border," and more an intangible "boundary." However, the atypical combination of "two systems within a single country" creates an inherent contradiction, engendering a disjuncture between Hong Kong and the Mainland that is concomitantly administrative, physical and psychological. The continual existence of a boundary, while more tacit than real, also defines a duality (the local and national) which operates in all political, economic and cultural domains in Hong Kong. In this particular social context, on-location shooting of Hong Kong dramas in the Mainland becomes a complex trans-border process in which negotiations are culturally and politically framed, much more so than in other sites of offshore production. Through life history interviews, participant observation of location shooting in the Mainland, and a historical comparison of televisual content produced by our two informants Chik and Chow, we examine three issues: first, the economic and historical conditions for the emergence and development of Hong Kong's trans-border production in the Mainland; second, the impact of trans-border production on the rescaling of Hong Kong's identity; and third, the influence of such practices on the creative outputs of the producers. We believe our approach of examining the cultural through the personal illustrates the subtle relations between TV production, geographic specificities, and producers' cultural imagination. Our thesis is that trans-border production of Hong Kong drama is characterized by a paradoxical combination of de-territorialization of production and reterritorialization of national imaginations, whereby inherent tensions enable and engender a dialectic between the local and the national. © 2008 by The Hong Kong University Press, HKU. All rights reserved.
All Author(s) ListChow C., Ma E.
Detailed descriptionin Zhu, Ying, Michael Keane and Ruoyun Bai eds., TV Drama in China: Unfolding Narratives of Tradition, Political Transformation and Cosmopolitan Ident
Pages201 - 215
LanguagesEnglish-United Kingdom

Last updated on 2020-05-09 at 02:01