AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 444

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Session 444: Radio, Propoganda and Censorship

Survival, (Self)-censorship, and Collective Unconsciousness:A Study of Chinese xiangsheng Performer Guo Degang and His Deyunshe
Fan Liao, University of California, San Diego, USA

The recent popularity of the xiangsheng performer Guo Degang and his performing group Deyunshe brings back those “old good days,” for which traditional xiangsheng and audience appreciation are remembered and admired by contemporary audiences. Guo’s performance highlights the importance of preserving xiangsheng traditions and theatrical entertainment for the contemporary audience. In Guo’s improvisations and encores, he often challenges the official and mainstream performances. By terming himself as a non-mainstream and virtually unknown performer, Guo is well received by the masses. Fans in Beijing call Guo a “grassroots artist” and an artist for the people. The whole social, economic and political conditions in post-Mao and post-socialist China try to erase the collective memories of the notorious banning of traditional theatre during the Cultural Revolution. A new material culture seems to encourage a sense of power for disempowered artists, because the current mass production and consumption of Guo’s performances indeed preserve certain art traditions and recruit a large number of trainees as well as artists. It helps create and maintain the illusion of a prosperous and vigorous performance market because it facilitates the self-development of xiangsheng performers. However, the new art of government, the revival of capitalism, and domestic consumerism strengthen what I call the “collective unconsciousness” of (self-) censorship, which, I contend, involves a loss of some artistic and moral values. This paper examines Guo’s performances and his performing group Deyunshe, which leads us to a (re-)understanding of tradition (survival), power, and (self-) censorship.

The Social Control Functions of Radio Korea during the 1992 Los Angeles Riot
Taehyun Kim, California State University, Northridge, USA

Radio Korea, as a community sentinel, conducted a live broadcast of looting of Korea Town during the Los Angeles riot of 1992. This study analyses recording of actual radio programs and identify social control function that ethnic radio station played during the riot. Specifically, this study examines surveillance function and integration function of the Radio Korea and discuss the significance of ethnic media during the crisis.

The Relevance of Religion in the Censorship and Rating of Videogames in Japan
William H. Kelly, Tama University, United Kingdom

Emile Durkheim has defined a crime in terms of the degree to which it offends the sensibilities of a community of people, noting that it does not offend because it is a crime, but rather it is a crime because it offends. Applying this notion to the censorship and rating of videogames in Japan and of Japanese games in markets outside Japan, this paper focuses on two areas in which ‘religion’ and the evaluation of videogame content intersect: (1) patterns in the handling of violence and violent images in the censorship and rating of videogames in Japan, and, (2) the handling of religion and religious symbolism and imagery, especially in the context of games exported from Japan to markets in North America, Europe and the Middle East. With regard to the handling of violence (1), the paper explores whether concepts of death, the dead body and pollution associated with death, the corpse and bodily fluids may be relevant to patterns in the censorship of violence in videogames in Japan. At least one, alternative explanation is also examined. With regard to (2), the paper proposes the question of whether differences in religious systems and religious practice in Japan and other countries might, at least in part, help to explain particular sensitivities towards images in games which could be construed as ‘religious’.

New Old Media: FM Radio in India
Biswarup Sen, University of Oregon, USA

In 2001, India’s very first private FM station – Radio City, Bangalore – came on air, ending an era of state broadcasting that began in 1930. In the past decade, FM radio has enjoyed spectacular success: over 300 stations are now in operation, and the medium has seen consistent growth in listenership and revenues. FM radio’s impact goes beyond mere economics; it is now a cultural signifier synonymous with a hip and cool lifestyle. As the “tagline” for a popular FM network puts it “Radio Mirchi - it’s hot!” This paper addresses the paradox that lies in an old medium acquiring such a contemporary edge. The belated arrival of FM in India, I argue, is not a case of delayed technology-transfer; it is rather an instance of new old media - of old technology being put to entirely novel uses because of social and cultural imperatives. The shift from state-controlled, nationwide AM transmission to corporate-owned local FM broadcasting signals a profound change in the very philosophy of radio in India. This paper will look at the organization, business practices, content-formation and audience reception of FM radio in order to demonstrate that along with other media formats like multiplex movies and cable television, FM participates in the creation of a discourse of global consumerism that characterizes India’s turn to a neo-liberal market economy. In doing so, it helps to create a new mode of “narrowcasting” that bears the signature of our present modernity.

Sound and Story: The Birth of Japanese Radio Drama
Kerim Yasar, Ohio State University, USA

Not long after the first radio broadcasts began in Japan in 1925, a group of writers, actors, and broadcasting professionals came together to form the Rajio dorama kenkyuukai (Radio Drama Research Association) in order to introduce and develop this novel genre of dramatic art. The members of the group included prominent literary figures of the time, such as Nagata Mikihiko (1887-1964), Kume Masao (1891-1952), Osanai Kaoru (1881-1928), Kikuchi Kan (1888-1948), Kubota Mantarou (1889-1963), and Satomi Ton (1888-1983). The group put out a series of five slim volumes of radio plays in 1925, the Rajio dorama sousho (“The Radio Drama Library,” published by Shunyoudou), which became the founding documents of radio drama practice in Japan. In this paper I discuss the circumstances around the formation of the Radio Drama Research Association, the plays that were published in the series, as well as the earliest radio drama broadcasts in Japan. I also consider the possibilities of radio drama as a narrative genre, one that has long been neglected by scholars in the English-speaking world but which enjoyed wide popularity until the advent of television (and even beyond, in countries like Germany and Japan). Audio drama has experienced something of a global renaissance in recent years thanks to podcasting and streaming Internet audio, and this offers a timely opportunity to explore the early formation of the art, as well as its relations to literary and dramatic practice and the history of broadcasting in Japan.

The Evolving China’s Propaganda in the Internet Age: Case Study of the Weng’An Incident
Chin-fu Hung, National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

Propaganda has since the Mao’s era been the primary vehicle for indoctrination and mass mobilization of the citizenry. With the deepening of the reform policies and opening to the outside, China has to some extent experienced an unprecedented boom and liberalization of the media sector. Yet media propaganda has continuously attempted to play the role of guiding and shaping public opinion, and the profound objective of the enhanced ideological control. While China’s old “in your face” style of propaganda may not be as effective as it was before, the Internet commentators are paid and funded by the government to search online for bad or negative news and articles, and then (anonymously) negate it with the help of web site administrators and public security officials. They attempt to direct the cyber discussions and “virtual” atmosphere in favor and in the direction of the party line. This paper addresses the rising cyber phenomenon of “Internet commentators”, dubbed Fifty Cent Party, in the People’s Republic of China. It argues that the set-up and increased utilization of Internet commentators has given the Chinese government in Beijing a sophisticated governing tool with which to disseminate and solidify party ideology in the information age.