"After select HK genre filmmakers emigrated to Hollywood, the inauthentic hybrid forms poised to ensnare incoming opportunists smugly trumped the inauthentic subjectivity of the Western critic. The aesthetic compromises to which John Woo or Jackie Chan submitted were so madly inevitable that no dose of exilic-transnational-nomadic-postcolonial-diasporic rhetoric could soothe them, and we even longed for the nationalism to which Chinese critics were afraid to reactively cling. But because they are mere “entertainers,” HK action directors were liberated from the burden of moral courage reserved for non-genre auteurs; for the entertainer, selling out is art. If it was cowardly for John Woo to make Windtalkers (2002), for postcolonial Sammo Hung to debase himself in the cookie-cutter cop show Martial Law (1998), for Ronny Yu to whore in adolescent horror franchises, and for a Disneyfied Jackie Chan to become a high-kicking spokesman for Hefty Ultra-Flex lawn-and-leaf trash bags, only the deluded would dare ask for better. Postcolonialism may forgive the subaltern for imitating their oppressors, but these are privileged, wealthy filmmakers, not slaves, day laborers, or the bourgeoisie! A depressed Chow Yun-fat now resenting his double-barreled Hollywood caricatures (i.e., Bulletproof Monk ) or a dejected Ringo Lam being downgraded to direct-to-video B-movies would have been bittersweetly satisfying had they come five years earlier — but now, who cares? Expatriate auteurs such as Polanski and Bertolucci persisted in Hollywood by selling only half their souls — but because émigré HK filmmakers were invited to the West not for their dramatic skills but only to fetishize action choreographies, they had sold half their souls already. Corrupting the other half came easily.
"Now, years after the ’97 immigrant crisis, the transnational problems of distribution and appropriation remain intact, as evidenced by Beijing and Nike, but it, circuitously, has taken a back seat to the new method of production. Treacherous Hollywoodites are today redundant in the process of demoralized transnationality, an affect no longer tacked on by vulture-like distributors but ingrained by Chinese filmmakers who now trade sophisticatedly their own international commodity value. The resultant bogus multiculturalism of synthetic confections such as Naked Weapon (2002) or Twins Effect (2003) fosters greater cultural ineptitude than the multilingualism of the international co-productions that dominated Italy in the 1960s, and betrays a lazy misunderstanding of Anglicism equal to Westerners’ violent corruptions of Chineseness. (This laziness largely stems from incredible English-language “performances.” But honestly, even talented HK actors such as Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu-wai have, by international standards, fairly narrow ranges, even if few will reveal the secret.) This multicultural “synthesis” is actually unsynthetic, insofar as the fabric, by showing its seams, instructs you how to unstitch it. Warning signs of this stitching were evident in Tsui Hark’s Time and Tide (2000), which heralded the technological heights and ideological nadirs of HK filmmaking on the cusp of its conservative tourism: a gloss of gratuitously enigmatic stylization following Wong Kar-wai and Johnnie To; dubbed bilingual performances (here, in Spanish rather than English) that nonsensically plead for multicultural cachet; the inclusion of a peripheral lesbian character to satisfy de rigueur, post-’97 gay tokenism; the relegation of veteran actors (here, Anthony Wong) to supporting roles, and the commercial advancement to the forefront of well-connected pop idols (Nicholas Tse) whose thespian merits begin and end with deluxe hairstyles; and, to rationalize all that has preceded it, a climax that restates the glowing values of pregnancy and the safeguarding of the nuclear family."
-- Andrew Grossman, "Against Pleasure, Against Identification: Feminism, Cultural Atheism, and theTragic Subject (Part One)" - here.
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"Take the new Shanghai Museum, which was opened in 1996. It is designed to resemble a giant ting, an antique Chinese bronze vessel. The obvious visual message here is that in the city's pursuit of modernity, Chinese tradition is not forgotten. But there is also something else. Consider the experience of entering the museum. In the exhibiting walls, we find the rare artworks that the museum is famous for expertly displayed: the ancient bronzes, the Sung and Yuan painting. But what also catches the attention is how ostentatiously clean the museum is, not a common experience in Shanghai. There always seem to be some workers polishing the brass on the railings or the marble on the floor. Even the toilets are kept meticulously clean. The dirtier the streets around it, the cleaner the museum. And suddenly you realize that the museum does not think of itself as being part of a local space at all, but as part of a virtual global cultural network. The Shanghai Museum is not just where artworks are being shown in Shanghai; it is also where Shanghai shows itself off in its museum, with its image cleaned up and in hopes that the world is looking."
--Ackbar Abbas, "Cosmopolitan De-scriptions: Shanghai and Hong Kong," Public Culture 12(3), 2000; p. 782.