Blood in the square:
representations of democracy in China

by Scott Nygren

from Jump Cut, no. 37, July 1992, pp. 37-43
copyright Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, 1992, 2006

"Certain words and phrases have an amazing ability to sustain many definitions…The most flexible term of all may well be 'democracy.'"
— Scott L. Malcomson[1]
[open notes in new window]

Representations of democracy in China by U.S. media have tended to repress numerous cross-cultural ironies and contradictions in favor of a unitary narrative derived from Western melodrama. These accounts can be weighed against alternative narratives in Chinese and Japanese cinema, ones which foreground the complexity and ambivalences created by the introduction of Western political models to Asia. My paper will consider U. S., Chinese and Japanese representations of democracy in Asia in order to address problems of translation, displacement, and erasure that occur by the circulation of the term "democracy" and the multiple signifieds that it triggers.

Specifically, I will consider U. S. mass media coverage of China in terms of the combined blindness and insight triggered by ideological identification and positioned by the narrative construction of news. I will then address two Chinese films produced by the Fifth Generation at the last moment before foreclosure by the events in Tiananmen Square, Huang Jianxin's SAMSARA (LUNHIUI, 1988) and Zhou Xiaowen's OBSESSION (FENGKUANG DE DAIJIA, 1989). My purpose in writing this is not simply to unmask the U. S. media's false treatments of Chinese events in order to replace such images by other reports imagined as true, but to problematize representations of democracy in terms of the psychoanalytic, social and discursive assumptions they construct in different circumstances.

One of the curious features of Western reporting on China in May and June of 1989 was the representation of "democracy."[2] Once the Western mass media determined that student protests in Beijing signified a "democracy movement," newscasts gradually began to portray their victory as inevitable. These reports then supported this claim by extensive interviews with Chinese citizens suddenly willing to speak candidly with foreigners. Only after the June 45 massacre did the media belatedly consider that those in the bureaucracy who opposed the students also opposed foreign ideas and avoided Western media. Journalists sympathetic to the students were then dismayed to discover that Chinese authorities analyzed coverage of events to identify participants for to arrest.[3]

Despite this, students welcomed Western coverage of events and the heroic portrayal of themselves and made use of it for their own ends. During the "Empty University Movement" which followed the massacre, for example, students in Guangzhou videotaped footage from Hong Kong television to take back to theft homes in different parts of the country. This made it possible to distribute information counter to the official version of events.[4] The multiple mirrors, misrecognitions, appropriations, and ironies in this struggle of representations cannot simply be disregarded as the inevitable consequence of enthusiastic on-the-spot coverage. Rather, they indirectly suggest the conflict of discursive formations between Asia and the West through the paradoxes and problems intrinsic to that conflict. By writing in these terms, I mean to suggest the links among psychoanalysis, knowledge and power that have become possible to theorize after the work of Jacques Lacan and Michel Foucault.[5]

Other recent events in Asia and Eastern Europe continue to be reported in Western media as if democracy were a transparent and unambiguous term, identical with a consumer economy.[6] When, for example, the first visitors from East Berlin crossed the newly permeable wall into West Berlin, they were greeted with cash awards of $50 each by West German banks. This richly paradoxical encounter was reported in U. S. public media as if it were completely unproblematic. Following the classical tropes of the Cold War, re-embedded during the Reagan era, and restated after Reagan as "the decline of Communism," all Communist regimes have again been collapsed into a unitary figure. This reduces socialism to Stalinism, Stalin to Hitler, and Hitler to a uniquely monstrous figure safely assigned to an historical and cultural other. The paranoid escalation of identifications implicit in this series is again repressed, together with its translation of fundamentalist Satanism into a secularized melodrama. Implicit in this conjunction of psychoanalysis and melodrama lies an allegory of a cultural identity specific to the West, theorized by Lacan in terms of the cogito.[7]

Any effort to deconstruct the paranoid fabrications of the cogito risks provoking a resistance. Here such deconstruction depends on recognition of the melodramatic structure of mass media news reporting in the West. Melodramatic strategies are often justified by the industry as transparent entertainment devices necessary to reach a mass audience, yet these devices construct an ethnocentric and absolute binarism which becomes displaced onto international affairs. For example, the theatricalization of the news has recently taken such forms as the restaging of crimes on "Saturday Night with Connie Chung," staged the passing of a briefcase on ABC news to "illustrate" State Department suspicions of Felix Bloch's espionage,[8] and the upbeat music themes on CBS's "48 Hours" which function to convert news footage into action drama.

Far from being a recent development, such a fusion of melodrama and news characterizes television history. One landmark in this process was CBS' decision to replace Walter Cronkite with Dan Rather instead of Roger Mudd, even though Mudd was universally acknowledged by his peers as the better newsman, because Rather had stronger star recognition. Another landmark was Eisenhower's hiring of an ad agency to manage his 1952 Presidential campaign.[9] The Reagan administration's elevation of melodrama to national policy was not unusual in these terms but comes as the logical consequence of defining the real through centralized mass media imagery. Such imagery continually works to promote emotional identification with the kind of Western logocentric humanism theorized by Derrida. It often does so by establishing an imaginary division of a sound and image text into verbal authority and visual truth.[10]

The imaginary constructions of melodrama position democracy as if it lay outside the history and discursive formations of logocentric humanism, class polarization, gender roles and the psychoanalytic organization of the subject. Indeed, a momentarily famous essay of 1989, by U. S. State Department official Francis Fukuyama, even theorized this representation and its neo-Hegelian assumption about "the autonomous power of ideas." Fukuyama declared the end of history through the triumph of liberal democracy and the "ineluctable spread of consumerist Western culture."[11] This essay's uncritical popularity among mass media journalists paralleled its reiteration of dominant ideology as a hyperbolic compound of idealism, capital and progress.

Ironies and contradictions in such a representation of democracy are insistently marginalized. A statue that represented Chinese democracy in the monumental romantic style of the nineteenth century was recognized as ironic by student radicals in Beijing, but accepted as strategically necessary. The pervasive corruption and sexual scandals undermining the current Japanese government never seem to raise questions about the significance of democracy, which is instead celebrated unproblematically as a universal benefit. A socialist government in France, founded on long-standing antagonism to Soviet hegemony, continues as an ally of the United States throughout the Reagan and Bush administrations. A labor union government in Poland is celebrated by a U. S. administration which fights to break unions at home, but this contradiction too seems normal after the oxymoronic rhetoric institutionalized during the Reagan era. White House denunciations of Islamic fundamentalism and its links to terrorism never function to question the threat to democracy posed by Republican ties to Christian fundamentalism and the election of a former Klan member as a Republican. The decline of central controls in the former Soviet block has only belatedly been linked by U. S. reporting to an upsurge of racist violence, from revived anti-Semitism in Russia to mob attacks on Hungarians in Romania and Christian-Moslem guerilla warfare in Azerbaijan. How often even now, is such violence abroad related in the mass media to events in Bensonhurst and Howard Beach?

The problem is in part yet another variation on Orientalism, which functions here to include Slavic cultures as well. Events which mirror dominant ideology in the West are celebrated. Those which mirror Western problems are condemned as if totally other. Significant cultural difference and multiple determinations masked by the mythical use of the term "democracy" are both ignored.

Yet the introduction of Western ideas is always multiple. It weaves together individualism and irresponsibility, romantic love and patriarchy, national independence and racism, industrial development and ecological disaster, and extremes of wealth and poverty. These ideas in turn have multiple and unpredictable effects, ranging from family disintegration and personal crisis to financial corruption and the kind of militaristic isolationism that affected Japan in the 1930's and now characterizes Iran and Iraq. Legalized democratic institutions play a significant role in these cultural transformations, but they can also co-exist with alternative forms of absolutism and violence dispersed to other domains.

As long as democracy is equated with nationalism, for example, as in U. S. reporting about the Lithuanian independence movement, then "freedom" becomes identified with a demand for a transparent signification, a domain in which language, race and culture are singular and uncontested. "Progress" and "idealism" become inextricably linked to ethnic violence. Competing demands for absolute meaning increasingly exclude heterogeneity and the play of meaning which Jacques Derrida calls différance. The problem here is one of shifting margins. As long as ethnic identification functions to oppose central control, as in the Soviet Union, it disseminates difference within a totalitarian system. Yet as soon as ethnic identification becomes the basis for an alternative state, it can establish the same exclusionary system of unitary meaning which it previously functioned to oppose.

The legitimate contest of discursive formations becomes erased on behalf of idealist states, each of which reinstitutionalizes a repression of the other in an escalating balkanization of violence. State terror becomes ethnic terror. The rationalist system of Soviet Communism, which partially offset racist and sexist violence, is discarded for an irrational series of identifications which have no such bars to intimate transgression. This is not to say that Stalinism was better than the ethnic destabilization that led Eastern Europe to become the flashpoint for two World Wars, but only that one system of violence offset the other during the 40 years which followed WWII. These multiple communities cannot simply be "liberated" without consequences.

I would also like to address these problems by considering two recent Chinese films, both produced at the Xi'an Studio when it was still under the innovative direction of Wu Tianming. Since Tiananmen, Wu has been in exile in the United States, and the fate of individual filmmakers remaining in China is less well known. These two films exemplify the last relatively uncensored articulations of changing social conditions in China by Fifth Generation filmmakers immediately before the massacre. The melodramas SAMSARA and OBSESSION can be analyzed in terms of Western influence on representations of sexuality and violence. Such an analysis can be help decipher competing organizations of power, knowledge and desire.

SAMSARA and OBSESSION both represent the influence of Western democracy through the trope of transgression. The films contrast Western individualism to China's consensus society by presenting a myth about an outlaw younger generation which violates the norms of past practice. In both films, as Paul Clark has noted, characters live "atomized and alienated lives,"[12] isolated from divorced or absent parents and far from the extended family that often serves as a metaphor for Chinese communism. The figures of transgression and the absent family used in these films parallel those of U. S. film noir and suggest in part a conscious influence of Western styles. The directors sought to imitate Western action or suspense films to achieve a mass audience, a goal necessitated by the outside funding they received for studio co-production. OBSESSION in particular was immensely popular in China.

Both films also foreground character psychology within a naturalistic mise-en-scene, in contrast to Huang's earlier BLACK CANNON INCIDENT (HEIPAO SHIJIAN, 1985), in which color and stylized imagery played a more important role. Paul Clark, in discussing the regime's renewed attack on "bourgeois liberalization" after June 4, acknowledges the "individualistic, action-oriented hedonism" of most new movies prior to June 4. Yet Huang's and Thou's recent work recalls such Japanese films as Mizoguchi's SISTERS OF THE GION (1936) through its ambivalent representation of Western individuality.

SAMSARA, as Paul Clark notes, begins playfully before it turns deadly serious. At the beginning, the central character Shi Ba performs the stereotyped rebellion of a Western teenager. He runs down the up escalator to a subway platform, lights a cigarette next to a "No Smoking" sign, and discovers an attractive young woman named Yu Jing. The camera plays with composition by sighting on a game of cards through a series of triangular hand grips and then turns back to Shi Ms point-ofview shot to see Yu Jing replaced by an older woman who has sat in front of her. This positioning of an individualized viewer as transgressive adolescent male seems so familiar as to be a selfconscious pastiche of classical Western cinematic narration.

In this context, Huang then plays with cultural role reversals and problems of translation: Shi Ba remarks to Yu Jing at her dance studio that "only Western clothes fit me," foregrounding Shi Ba's claim to Western self-positioning. Later at dinner with Yu Jing, two other Chinese and two North American men, he complains that the Chinese have for a hundred years allowed Westerners to act arrogantly, but the American addressed can't understand him because he speaks too fast. As in BLACK CANNON INCIDENT, Huang's earlier film, direct expression across cultures becomes deflected by the characters' self-important posturing and an unintentional collapse of meaning.

SAMSARA then presents the story of young private entrepreneurs in contemporary Beijing woven together with blackmail and violence. Shi Ba privately sells such merchandise as consumer electronics and engages in transactions both legal and illegal in a life style made possible by Deng's economic reforms of the 1980's. His initial success attracts blackmailers who first threaten, then severely beat him, leaving him permanently crippled. Though his romance with Yu Jing had at first seemed to flourish, by the time they marry, an emotional deadness has set in. At the end of the film, Shi Ba climbs over the balcony railing of his high-rise apartment and falls to his death.

SAMSARA represents the central character's individualism ambivalently, as neither progressive nor regressive in simple terms, but as ultimately suicidal under present circumstances. Like Juzo Itami's A TAXING WOMAN in Japan (1987), where the central entrepreneur character is also crippled, SAMSARA implicitly critiques the equation of individualism and capitalist investment as unavoidably corrupt. Enrichment appears inextricably bound up with criminal victimization and a paralysis of desire. Itami suggests that the new democratic Japan is founded on corruption at the highest levels: in A TAXING WOMAN RETURNS (1989), the greatest criminals escape prosecution. Similarly, the 1989 student protests in Beijing had as a priciple target the extensive corruption that Dengts reforms had helped create.

Instead of assuming the inevitable progress of democratic consumerism, SAMSARA suggests more interesting questions at the root of Chinese student protests. How can the totalized systems of state communism and monopoly capital be mutually deconstructed to reconcile economic initiative with social responsibility? How can the "equivalential" logic that Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe find both in classical democracy and in Marxism[13] be infiltrated by the problematics of desire? If Shi Ba and Yu Jing represent the extinction of youthful initiative and desire under the present conditions of dictatorship and corruption, it is not clear that democratic reforms alone, even as theorized by Laclau and Mouffe, could bring them back to life.

As a film by one of the Fifth Generation's most skillful and innovative directors, SAMSARA asks us to keep the larger questions of film practice in mind. Jean-François Lyotard has argued the necessity of thinking through the interconnection of political and economic philosophy with the psychoanalysis of subjectivity and desire. How can film, as a mode of cultural representation, articulate what Lyotard calls a libidinal economy? Can film produce a textual game which coordinates the play of innovation and social justice?[14] Does a pessimistic narrative of character psychology mark the limits of this style for reinscribing Chinese culture?

Some of these problems find a different but equally disturbing formulation in Zhou's OBSESSION. In OBSESSION, Qingqing pursues the rapist of her younger sister Lanlan; he is a criminal portrayed as psychotically obsessed with Western pornography and guns. Without assistance from her family, Qingqing herself becomes obsessed with pursuing the criminal independent of the slow official investigation. At the end, she murders the criminal rather than allow the police to take him into custody.

Zhou specifically shot the film on location in Qingdao, a former German possession, in order to set the story in and around Western-style architecture. The rape occurs near a Christian church, and the rapist and his brother are later discovered to live hidden in the church tower, surrounded by racks of guns. In addition, as a film OBSESSION models itself after a Western crime thriller. Western iconography and styles of representation become multiply identified with uncontrollable phallocentric violence. The film assumes that pornography and guns both characterize the West and lead directly to chaos. In this sense, OBSESSION approximates the official denunciations of foreign ideas as "spiritual pollution." Deng's campaign against foreign pollution in 1983-84 failed but has been recently revived, and pornographic "yellow books" produced by Chinese publishers before June 4 to generate profits have again been repressed.[15] Such antipollution campaigns are also disturbingly reminiscent of Japanese attitudes antagonistic to the West during its militarist period, which equated liberal democracy and speculative capitalism with disease and crime.[16]

The concept of Western pollution formulates a partial critique of humanism which cannot be completely ignored, but it derives from a position of patriarchal authority even more severe than that which it criticizes. The imaginary figure of pollution in Asia is a mirror of Orientalism in the West. Both figures displace a repressed and unresolved internal conflict onto the other. Chris Berry has argued that xenophobia circulates among the Chinese in the form of hostility towards everything not of the Han race, which reproduces a racist division within China against ethnic minorities.[17] As in Romania, where the xenophobia promoted by the Ceausescu regime served to mask internal ethnic divisions, the violence which OBSESSION attaches to the West serves to displace a consideration of violence internal to China.

Yet OBSESSION, again like the Western crime genre it imitates, is simultaneously fascinated with the actions it condemns. In a move calculated to attract audiences, Thou originally appended idealized nude sequences of the sisters showering to the beginning and end of the film. However, offical intervention forced the scenes' removal prior to continued distribution in China. The film also invites identification with violence by Qingqing's melodramatic murder of the criminal in excess of police capture. In both cases, a viewer position is constructed wherein transgressive fantasies of voyeurism and vengeance represent a rupture from the social norms of a consensus society, so that regressive fantasy becomes associated with the interiorization of an individualist viewer psychology.

However, in a limited way, the film works to turn its ostensibly Western voyeurism and violence back against itself, as a displacement of misogynistic violence within China. Lanlan, in the nude shower sequence that begins the original film, asks her sister "What's wrong with me?" — a question that not only foreshadows the rape but questions her status as female. The film's title follows, together with a close up of the future rapist staring through binoculars. As in REAR WINDOW, the viewer's position is represented within the film as that of a distanced male voyeur.

The film repeatedly inscribes male domination and female suffering through Qingqing's professional role as a nurse in a maternity ward. Immediately after the title, Qingqing appears at work, where women suffer in childbirth and fantasize about male pregnancy. A husband is denounced who has refused to allow a Caesarean even though his wife is a week overdue and may die. Later in the film, indirect references suggest the Chinese preference for male children and the relative worthlessness of women. In Lanlan's school class, a boy tells the young woman teacher that she's out of date with her ideas about sexuality, and he reads her a scientific text on ovulation and the choice of a child's sex. Near the end of the film, a family rushes into the hospital shouting, "Beat her to death!" to attack Qingqing as a murderer because their boy was born dead. In the mob rhetoric wishing to murder the nurse because of the lack of a boy, one can perhaps read the figure of female infanticide that has been well documented as a primary index of misogyny in China.

Interestingly, OBSESSION develops the image of voyeurism not only diagetically through the rapist's obsession with pornography, but self-reflexively against the recording media of photography and video. Shortly after Lanlan's rape, Qingqing visits a young woman friend in a video production studio who is dubbing in an hysterical scream over the image of a woman in a bath. This curious incident, strategically placed in the rape narrative parallel to the image of binoculars after the shower scene, foregrounds the fictional construction of female victimization for audience consumption. In contrast, Qingqing's attempt to appropriate the camera for surveillance must work against the grain. During the search for the criminal, Qingqing attempts to photograph every man on the streets. However, she has forgotten to take the lens cap off, so she has nothing at first to ask Lanlan to identify.

OBSESSION is an immature work, only the third feature by Zhou, and its concerns may seem partially confused. There is a degree of instability in its meaning. However, this perhaps unintentional instability makes it symptomatically more interesting. The most direct reading of the film's contradictory moves is to identify its representation of Western individualism with phallocenthc violence, opposed to a defense of women's interests equated with police authority. Yet the film works simultaneously to create a position of voyeuristic interiority and to deconstruct it. At the same time, Qingqing achieves her own unstable autonomy outside the aid of either family or state. Insofar as OBSESSION problematizes the conflict of individual and group, of social justice and desire, and of representation and différance, it approximates the conditions of China's democracy movement

The problem in SAMSARA and OBSESSION is not simply the lack of a humanist, idealist democracy, as if liberty were a unitary and transcendent goal in a closed system of meaning superior to that of the Chinese. Regarding these films, the problem is rather how to negotiate competing discursive formations from both China and the West, to generate new texts which distribute power, meaning and desire differently than before. Subjectivity in these films is dislocated across racial, sexual and cultural differences, so that no enclosure of indiviuality remains unproblematic. Neither, however, do consensus groups of family or state resolve problems of initiative and desire. The strategies of the Western action film, centering the subject as they do in male individuality, function here to decenter consensus norms; action film codes inscribe a space for desire and invention to enter into the scene. But in both films, these strategies already appear to reach their limit and turn pessimistic and contradictory. The limits of Deng's opening to the West were already reached in the films made before June 4, and complicate the Western media image of student protest in China.

To theatricalize Tiananmen Square, students placed their plaster Goddess of Liberty so that it faced the monumental portrait of Mao hanging over the south gate of the Forbidden City. They juxtaposed one idealized monument against another, opening discursive boundaries across gender lines and across the cultural traditions of East and West. The student leaders disavowed identification with the monumental nineteenth-century style of the Goddess, but they recognized its strategic importance in altering the square's architectural construction of meaning. Presumably the students did not study with Robert Venturi, but their strategy parallels postmodernism in its juxtaposition of contradictory styles and sources. A replica of French iconography, by way of the United States, meets a signifier of the German text of Marx translated to China by way of the Soviet Union. Kitsch meets socialist realism in an encounter that transforms Mao's monumental portrait into a Warhol replica in its own space. The architectural absence of the square, the space of the people, speaks to the presence of Mac, in its iconic identification with imperial China, evoking the feudal-like blood ties linking the leadership, ties that are well known but foreclosed from public discussion.

Western media coverage of China paradoxically functioned in the West to reinforce the unitary closure of dominant ideology but worked in China to destabilize meaning and cut across discursive boundaries. The heroic representation of the democracy movement in Western journalism, like the monumental Goddess in the Square, circulates in China in the context of an information economy regulated by the tropes of scientific Marxism. Western coverage in this context again translates events into melodrama, but here conflicts with the insistence on indexical realism and metonymic detail characteristic of Communist state news. The day after the massacre, the official headline was "Children's Day Observances Cancelled in Tiananmen Square."[18] The contrast of Western coverage transforms this realist detail into the modernist trope of irony, recalling Deng's condescending characterization of the students as "unruly children." Irony can be a powerful discursive weapon against the totalized control of information. Its traces in the Fifth Generation often mark pivotal moments in the construction of meaning. When Chen Kaige's BIG PARADE was first released, for example, the representation of the Red Army seemed relentlessly laudatory to Western observers, but its understated ironies invite reevaluation after the army's schisms in relation to the massacre.

Wang Yuejin has argued that history itself is melodrama.[19] He equates two discursive formations introduced into China from abroad, both derived from the nineteenthcentury West. In this postmodernist encounter of nineteenth-century Western tropes on Chinese terrain, melodramatic history disrupts scientific humanism. Early in OBSESSION, Lanlan walks home with a boy from school in the rain, debating the educational value of science versus that of history. In contrast, Marlin Fitzwater, as spokesman for George Bush, argued during Brent Scowcroft's friendly visit to Deng on December 10, 1989, that U. S. policy "won't be focused on the past."[20] By asking the United States to forget the historical rupture of June in order to maintain close ties to China, George Bush is no doubt making clear in several ways where his sympathies lie.

Both SAMSARA and OBSESSION foreground the problem of violence as they consider the issue of Western discursive formations in China, a violence which returns against the democracy movement in the Tiananmen Square massacre. Failure to negotiate the different constructions of power, knowledge and desire now circulating through China inevitably leads to an escalation of violence among competing absolutisms, much as it has in the ethnic conflicts of the Middle East or Eastern Europe.

Ironically, by deciding to visibly crush the protest movement in full view of foreign reporters, Deng has entered into the domain of spectacle. He has fostered a trope of excess belonging to melodrama and to the opposition who favor a rupture in the state communism's "scientific" regulation of history. In erasing the contest of discourses in the Square, Deng triggered the distribution of videotaped Western coverage of the massacre throughout the country during the Empty University Movement. This videotaped material helped promote the destabilization of meaning he wished to suppress. Mirsky has speculated that Deng's disinformation campaign that followed the massacre may well have been intended to confuse rather than persuade.[21] If so, then his strategy may also assist the protestors by spreading the destabilization of meaning from urban centers throughout the country.

Even after the massacre, it seemed likely that if a democratic vote had been taken, it might well have favored Deng's regime. The vast majority of the population remains rural peasantry who often see student concerns as remote from their own survival issues. In the information war that has followed June 4, the dissemination of videotaped Western coverage may well now be outside the government's capacity to control it. This same factor in Eastern Europe apparently helped lead to the overthrow of old regimes. In a novel by Tanizaki or Kawabata or in a film by Ozu, to suggest another ironic parallel, once the central characters' attitudes change, it is unnecessary to depict the actions which inevitably follow. Does the present historical moment in China represent the pause in an Asian narrative long enough for the melodramatic impact of events to be fully absorbed before proceeding?

For the purposes of the present paper, it is sufficient that questions of power and desire remain paramount. I wish to avoid lapsing into the idealist fallacies of Hegel and Fukuyama. The project of reinscribing Chinese culture requires more than idealism if it is to succeed. Yet if Foucault has pioneered the theorization of knowledge and power in an information economy, his work alone does not allow us to think through the indeterminacy of meaning unavoidably encountered between cultures or the postmodernist problematization of subjectivity and desire. The most fruitful work for the cross-cultural analysis of political change now accordingly derives from those theorists who are able to think across the boundaries of deconstructive, psychoanalytic and political discourses. As models for the analysis of power and desire in the context of representational différance, one might consider not only Michel Foucault's work but Jean-François Lyotard's Au Juste and Barbara Johnson's A World of Difference.[22]


1. Scott L. Malcolmson, "Democratic Conventions: Robert Dahl's Poverty of Theory," Voice Literary Supplement (Oct. 1989), p. 24.

2. Although mass media reporting in general is the object of this discussion, specific materials reviewed for this paper have been selected primarily from CBS News, ABC's Nightline, and The New York Times. I have chosen these sources because they represent what are often considered to be the best or most credible among mass media alternatives.

3. Jonathan Mirsky, "The Empire Strikes Back," New York Review of Books (Feb. 1, 1990), pp. 21-25.

4. Sarah Trenholm, quoted in "Professor on Sabbatic in China During Student Massacre," the Ithaca College News (Oct. 11, 1989), p.3.

5. See Michel Foucault, "Discursive Formations," in The Archeology of Knowledge (trans. by A.M. Sheridan Smith of L'Archeologie du Savoir; New York: Pantheon, 1972), pp. 31-39. For Foucault's development of the archeological method into a genealogy of power and knowledge, see Discipline and Punish (Trans. by Alan Sheridan from Surveiller et Punir: Naissance de la prison; New York: Vintage, 1979).

6. Problematizing the representation of democracy in Asia is not entirely new. See, for example, the "Film and 'Democracy'" chapter in Noel Burch, To the Distant Observer: Form and Meaning in the Japanese Cinema (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979), pp. 271-290.

7. See Jacques Lacan, "Aggressivity in Psychoanalysis," in Écrits: A Selection (trans. by Alan Sheridan from Écrits; New York: W.W. Norton and Co. 1977), pp. 829.

8. See David Wise, "The Felix Bloch Affair," New York Times Magazine (May 13, 1990), p. 42.

9. See Erik Barnouw, Tube of Plenty.

10. See, for example, Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology (trans. by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak from De la Grammatologie, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976).

11. New York Times (Aug. 27, 1989), p. £5.

12. Paul Clark, "Chinese Cinema in 1989," Hawai'i International Film Festival Viewers' Guide (1989), pp. 40-43.

13. See Bradley J. Macdonald, "Towards a Redemption of Politics: An Introduction to the Political Theory of Emesto Laclau," Strategies No. 1 (Fall 1988), pp. 5-9; and Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics (London: Verso, 1985).

14. Jean-François Lyotard, Économie libidinale (Paris: Les Editions de Minuit, 1974); Jean-François Lyotard and Jean-Loup Thébaud, Just Gaming (trans. by Wlad Godzich of Au Juste; Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1985).

15. Wu Tianming, public discussion, Hawaii International Film Festival (Nov. 29, 1989).

16. See John Dower, War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (New York: Pantheon, 1986).

17. Chris Berry, paper delivered at the Asian Cinema Conference, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio (published in Cinema Journal 31:2).

18. Trenholm.

19. Wang Yuejin, "Melodrama as Historical Understanding." unpublished paper delivered at the Hawaii International Film Symposium, Honolulu, Nov. 27-Dec. 1, 1989.

20. Quoted in Mirsky,p.21.

21. Mirsky, p.24.

22. Barbara Johnson, A World of Difference (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987).