Watching Mainland Chinese Television Dramas in Hong Kong: Youth, Identities and Transcultural Consumption
- Project Leader
- Dr ZHOU, Lulu (Department of Literature and Cultural Studies)
- This project expands the research objects from college students in the pilot study to 18-30-year-old youngsters in Hong Kong and focuses on those who have watched mainland drama.
- Early Career Scheme
As the most popular art form, television drama is economically, politically and socially significant. Hong Kong television drama helped defined the Hong Kong identities, and its export into China has influenced generations of mainland audience. However, recent years has witnessed a “reverse flow”: many young people born in Hong Kong have taken an interest or developed a preference for television drama produced in China, such as Scarlet Heart (步步驚心), My Sunshine (何以笙簫默), The Journey of Flowers (花千骨) and Nirvana in Fire (琅琊榜). This is unusual because (1) mainland drama has long been perceived to be attractive to new immigrants from China, or middle-aged and senior audience in Hong Kong only; (2) all HongKongers’ national identifications drop after 2008, and this tendency is most evident in the youngsters (Chiu, 2016). Why do youngsters in Hong Kong watch mainland dramas under an anti-Mainland social atmosphere? This project aims to answer this conflicts-laden question of audience motivation.
In the pilot study which investigates local college students’ television drama consumption in a general sense, it was found that compared with local and other countries’ drama, mainland drama is the most controversial topic in their focus group discussions. Four theoretical issues have been identified to explain audience’s motivations: firstly, mainland drama is perhaps the most accessible, especially in new media; secondly, most recent mainland drama series are adapted from internet novels which are written by and for young adults; thirdly, audience developed a taste for mainland dramas because of their “utopian sensibilities”, especially in the distinctive genre of mainland drama, such as “fairy chivalry” (仙俠); lastly, as many Hong Kong talents play leading roles in mainland dramas, these “mainland” produced programs can be better understood as “co-produced” dramas through the lens of “glocalization”.
This project expands the research objects from college students in the pilot study to 18-30-year-old youngsters in Hong Kong and focuses on those who have watched mainland drama. “Internet Ethnography” will be used to collect media reports and online audience’s discussions of mainland drama in Hong Kong; production studies and textual analysis of major mainland dramas will provide background information for this study. The main part is audience interviews which use purposive sampling to conduct 34 semi- structured, face-to-face interviews.
This project cuts through the vast scholarship of television drama, audience, transcultural consumption, youth studies, literary adaptation and glocalization. By providing timely empirical data, it is hoped that this project would fill gaps in television audience studies in Hong Kong. This project also contributes to youth studies and youth education by extending our understanding of youngster’s explorations of local and national identities. Meanwhile, television drama is at the forefront of countries’ quest to export soft power. This project will provide insights into how cultural policy makers can reposition Hong Kong in an era of “Rise of China”. As TV ratings gradually lose their credibility in this era of watching drama on various media, this qualitative audience study will be helpful for those in the television industry to better understand their elusive and valuable young audience.