Sex, Rice, and Videotape: Popular Media, Transnational Asian/American Masculinity, and a Crisis of Privacy Law in the Edison Chen Sex Scandal
Amerasia Journal 37:2 (2011): 28-56
29 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2013
Date Written: July 30, 2011
Two-thousand-and-eight, the year that China endeavored to present its best face to the international community as host to the Olympics, began with the biggest sex scandal in the history of the Chinese-speaking world. Publication of celebrity sex photos on the Internet, an affair that would be considered standard fare in Hollywood, transfixed all of Hong Kong and much of Asia for twenty-one days straight, even attracting the attention of West- ern news outlets such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, and BBC. Reading the Edison Chen scandal comparatively with similar sex scandals in America, which no longer have negative impacts on the celebrities involved and instead often create more publicity and opportunities for them, I revisit the construction of Asian masculinity in the context of globalization and transnationality in American and Asian popular culture. Whereas dubbing the scandal as "Sexy Photos Gate" by the Chinese-speaking Internet community and the success of American expatriate celebrities, such as Chen, reflect the penetration of Western culture and controversy into Asian popular media, the fact that Chen and his starlets encountered different fates from American celebrities caught in recent sex scandals reveals a double standard that cannot simply be explained by differing views on sexuality between a conservative Asian market and a more liberal American market. Rather, the divergence in legal remedies between the two jurisdictions concerning the dissemination of pornography that ultimately divest- ed Chen of his personal property and privacy rights and affirmed the police power of the state signifies a racial castration, which occurred as Chinese national culture has struggled to negotiate its current place in expanding global media markets.
Keywords: Sexuality, Obscenity, Privacy, Postcolonial, Hong Kong
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