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Riding off into the Sunrise: Genre Contingency and the Origin of the Chinese Western

Daniel Fried
PMLA
Vol. 122, No. 5, Special Topic: Remapping Genre (Oct., 2007), pp. 1482-1498
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25501798
Page Count: 17
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Riding off into the Sunrise: Genre Contingency and the Origin of the Chinese Western
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Abstract

The paradoxical dependence of genre histories on historically accidental acts of naming and on transcendental critical imagination is demonstrated by the Chinese western, a little-understood genre that has become a major part of Chinese-language cinema over the past two decades. After the genre was proposed in 1984 by the Chinese film theorist Zhong Dianfei, as a realist reaction against the ideological excesses of the Cultural Revolution, its ambiguous status as a Hollywood import quickly became a proxy for larger cultural battles over China's place in an American-dominated international cultural system. Moreover, despite assurances by Zhong and other critics that the genre was not susceptible to Hollywood influence, the production history of the genre from the late 1980s to the present demonstrates a pattern of generic influence and eventual fusion that tracks Chinese state-owned studios' evolution from subsidized propaganda organs to participants in a globalized entertainment industry.

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