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Indie Eyes on “Comfort Women” in China - The Case of Independent Documentary Twenty Two

  • The Journal of Chinese Cultural Studies
  • 2018, (41), pp.353-374
  • DOI : 10.18212/cccs.2018..41.015
  • Publisher : The Society For Chinese Cultural Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Chinese Language and Literature > Chinese Literature > Chinese Culture
  • Received : July 16, 2018
  • Accepted : August 17, 2018
  • Published : August 30, 2018

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ABSTRACT

Independent documentary Twenty Two(2015) is about the current situation of survived comfort women in China. This is the first documentary on “comfort women” issue that has ever been screened publicly in China. It not only provides a new channel through which the Chinese audience can know “comfort women” issue more objectively and throughly, but also sets a new landmark for Chinese oral historical documentaries. The words “comfort women” incorporate specific “political connotation” as well as “gender sensitivity”. However, media representation and social discourse are inclined to stereotyping them as “symbols of ethnical oppression” or “victims of sexual violence”, ignoring the “individual subjectivity” of each of them. Besides, although oral historical documentaries exert considerable influence in the West as well as in Third World Countries, they’ve been staying out of the major Chinese audience perspective for quite a long time. In view of these two aspects, Twenty Two collects the oral histories provided by comfort women survivors, questions mainstream discourse on comfort women issue, and makes more people realized that oral historical documentaries excel in reserving the truth of the past. Following the analysis of some interview scripts extracted from Twenty Two, this research points out that certain patriarchal contextual factors that rooted in domestic society are reflected in the interviews. These factors not only make women more vulnerable to sexual violence, but also make it difficult for them to return to the position of normal women after the injury. When Twenty Two is reconstructing the individual subjectivities of “comfort women”, it encourages the audience to cast reflexive perspective on “comfort women” discourse that has long located in the frame of nationalism. Such way of challenging the mainstream ideology is moderate but powerful. While demonstrating such viewpoint, this paper attempts to argue a previous study’s conclusion that asserted that “there’s no real independent cinema in China that challenges the mainstream”.

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