In late 1995, the drama Heaven Above (Cangtian zaishang) debuted on Chinese TV. Featuring a villainous high-ranking government official, it was the first in a series of wildly popular corruption dramas that riveted the nation. Staging Corruption looks at the rise, fall, and reincarnation of corruption dramas and the ways in which they express the collective dreams and nightmares of China in the market-reform era. It also considers how these dramas – as products of the interplay between television stations, production companies, media regulation, and political censorship – unveil complicated relationships between power, media, and society. This book is essential reading for those following China's ongoing struggles with the highly volatile socio-political issue of corruption.
1 Chinese Television Dramas: An Overview
2 Corruption Dramas as a Mediated Space: CCTV, Intellectuals, and the Market
3 Censorship, Governance Crisis, and Moral Regulation
4 Anti-Corruption Melodrama and Competing Discourses
5 Cynicism as a Dominant Way of Seeing
6 Speaking of the “Desirable” Corrupt Official: A Case Study
Appendix: Selected Corruption Drama Titles; Notes; Bibliography; Index
A fascinating, engaging, and highly original book. By showing us how to read contemporary Chinese society and politics through the prism of the production and consumption of popular television dramas, Staging Corruption makes an exceptional contribution to Chinese media studies.
Yuezhi Zhao, author of Communication in China: Political Economy, Power, and Conflict
A very important book. Staging Corruption provides a significant perspective on the monumental changes that have taken place in China since the 1980s by looking at the changes in one form of popular cultural product – TV dramas about corruption. Rich in textual detail, Staging Corruption should be widely used in classes on Chinese media, Asian media, and television studies.
Cindy Hing-Yuk Wong, author of Film Festivals: Culture, People, and Power on the Global Screen
Staging Corruption is a probing analysis of Chinese anti-corruption television drama since the 1990s. Bai's rich and wide-ranging study not only illuminates a popular television genre but also sheds light on broader issues of governance, morality, and media censorship in contemporary China. It is the best book I have read on Chinese television culture and politics in recent years.
Guobin Yang, author of The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online