Raint – Academic Article on Faye

raint, on September 20, 2010 said:

there exist an academic study of faye wong?!! surprised and not surprised…

Anthony Fung and Michael Curtin, “The Anomalies of Being Faye (Wong): Gender Politics in Chinese Popular Music,” International Journal of Cultural Studies, 2002, Volume 5(3): 263–290.

Raint, thanks for bringing this fascinating article to our attention. I recall reading this a few years ago and completely forgot about it. I yanked a few excerpts from the article because they seem to capture the gist of the authors’ thesis about Faye’s success:

  • It was precisely her rejection of prevailing institutional practices that brought her public attention as something of a novelty and in turn brought lavish economic returns. [274]
  • Once an alternative is popular, it is absorbed into the mainstream despite the fact that it may destabilize or transform specific values or conventions (Goodwin, 1992; Tetzlaff, 1993). [274]
  • Her Chinese superstar identity is thus rooted in the mainland, transformed in Hong Kong and ultimately constituted as global before it returns to the mainland as an emblem of the next generation. [276]
  • The image of a desiring, adventurous and provocative Faye is acceptable because she remains committed to a romantic vision of love and family. She is at once a bohemian, a professional and a traditional woman. [283]
  • Her reluctance to interpret her actions or her music merely reinforces the ambiguity of her image and this in turn helps to attract more supporters who interpret Faye’s imagery within their own social and cultural frames of reference. [285]

Fung and Curtin do a great job of analyzing the cultural forces that might explain Faye’s climb to superstardom, but the fact remains that these provide only partial answers. For example, all of these theories, combined, wouldn’t be able to generate another Faye Wong. There are other factors, other variables at play that may be beyond objective analysis.

Perhaps the root of Faye’s unprecedented success is within Faye herself — her genius, talent, and beauty. This is a combination that has never been matched or surpassed by anyone in the world, ever. This confluence of amazing qualities is a fluke, so unique that it probably won’t ever happen again. Her fans are aware that Faye is special, a one-off that’s simply off the charts in terms of voice, musical sense, songwriting, acting, modeling, and performing as well as in intelligence, spirituality, and social consciousness.

In the article, the parts that I found extremely interesting were the quotes from Faye herself. The authors did a terrific job in making their selections, providing readers a glimpse into Faye that reinforces her fans’ intuitive grasp of who she really is. These are especially significant because, as we all know, Faye is reticent and seldom says more than a few words in interviews and speeches. The quotes, taken together, provide insights into the Faye that we’ve come to know.

About the Beijing rock scene in the mid-’90s:

They planned parties together, playing rock and roll music, stirring up youths, daring to question the times. Living with wearisome and discontent emotions, they used the wildness of rock and roll to release pressure. Everything was done according to emotion and personality, not by economy or to earn money. Especially now that China is becoming more capitalist, who can ensure that music will not be compromised? Living in the middle of this, I never felt happier or more relaxed. (‘Faye’s Story’, 1997) [275]

About smiling when you don’t feel like it:

Realistically, we who work in the entertainment industry often have to use phony emotions. [A singing] idol is in itself a fake image, but many people make a big deal of idols. When there is a need for a certain image demanded by the fans, the entertainer must portray that image and become that fake person. Heu Yeung and them are different in that they use music to arouse people. They are very real. If you like them, then so be it. If you don’t like them, forget it. They have no need to smile for you, no need to play games. I understand that attitude because I also experienced these things that make you feel miserable. (‘Faye’s Story’, 1997) [277]

About her relationship with her fans:

I don’t think so. People just have different perspectives. I completely disagree. Marriage, birth, divorce, all these do not influence my career. I think those who love me and those who love my songs won’t think that this will influence me. My music fans and I interact only in the realm of music. If some people don’t feel happy about that, I don’t care. (Ming Pao Weekly, 14 April 2001: 72) [283]

A testament to Faye’s depth is the sheer impossibility of analyzing and explaining her. Faye is far, far more than the sum of her parts, and trying to understand her and the phenomenon that she represents is like trying to capture a fast moving stream in your cupped hands. Even as you hold the water, still for a moment, the stream is running its own course, free and bound only by the forces of life.



2 Responses

  1. This is great. Thanks. This will be fantastic to read. This is a great find!

  2. Thank you very much for sharing this! =D

    By the way just a gentle reminder, Faye has confirmed three concerts to be held in Taiwan. Please refer to this link, the official website “In-Music”: http://www.inmusicgroup.com/concert/faye.php

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