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Deconstructing the Construction: The Female Images in Chinese Detective Films, 2010-2020

Chou, Ying-Hsiu. Deconstructing the Construction: The Female Images in Chinese Detective Films, 2010-2020. Video Essay. 2020.

Deconstructing the Construction: The Female Images in Chinese Detective Films, 2010-2020 is a video essay that explores the image of women in the most popular, influential Chinese detective films in this past decade. This project centers critical feminist praxis to make an ethnographic inquiry into Chinese cinema through videographic criticism. It not only closely analyzes cinematic works across China, Hong Kong, Taiwan from 2010 to 2020 but also looks into their production and reception among Sinophone communities. This cross-disciplinary work consists of four parts. In the Introduction, fragments of different Chinese detective films are presented and reassembled into clips for a short detective film, revealing how the detective story formula is ultimately male. Chapter One: (Stereo)Types is a supercut of invisible and/or irrational women featured in these films, showing the consistent stereotypes of female personae. By juxtaposing the film clips with behind-the-scenes footage, this chapter also draws attention to the power dynamics between directors and actresses. Chapter Two: Some Attempts collages film clips which show attempts made to empower female personae, interviews with actresses/female stars, and fan-made real-time comments (bullet screens), inviting audiences to co-interpret the contradictions and negotiations among various perspectives. The Coda looks at female stars/actresses “offstage” and listens to these female agents’ voices, opening up the possibilities of diverse multidimensional representations of contemporary women. By creating non-linear narration, ramified viewpoints, and associative thoughts, my work hopes to jar people into thinking about the female images in the Chinese detective film in a new way.

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