Beijingers in New York


Beijingers in New York
[Beijingren zai Niuyue, 1993]
Television serial
Beijingers in New York was the most controversial television drama serial (dianshi lianxuju) produced in China during the 1990s. The serial, adapted from Cao Guilin’s novel, delivered a range of propositions to Chinese viewers, not only about the West, but about the changing nature of Chinese society. It was the first Chinese television serial to receive a government bank loan, the first production filmed outside China, and the first Chinese television drama touching on cross-cultural sexual relationships. Beijingers provided the first television role for celebrated actor Jiang Wen who portrayed Wang Qiming, a casualty of Western ‘spiritual pollution’. Soon after arriving in New York Wang’s wife leaves him for the American boss of a garment sweatshop. Humiliated, he plots revenge in business, in the process engaging in immoral activities: he takes a de-facto lover, uses alcohol to excess, procures a prostitute, gambles, and engages in stock market speculation. Portrayed as an anti-hero, Wang Qiming is generally remembered as an entrepreneur prepared to take a risk, albeit with financial help from A Chun, a Taiwanese businesswoman who becomes his de-facto lover. The portrayal of Western decadence titillated, while the obsession with materialism reflected China’s changing society.
Notable performances included Wang Ji as A Chun, Yan Xiaopin as Wang’s wife Guo Yan, and Robert Daly as David McCarthy, the scheming sweatshop boss. The series was co-produced by CCTV (Chinese Central Television)’s China Television Drama Production Centre and the Beijing Television Arts Centre. The directors were Zheng Xiaolong and Feng Xiaogang.
Huot, Claire (2000). China’s New Cultural Scene: A Handbook of Changes. Durham: Duke University Press, 60–4.
Keane, Michael and Tao, Dongfeng (1999). ‘Conversations with Feng Xiaogang, Director of the TV Series “Beijingers on New York”’. positions: east asia cultures critique 7.1: 193–200.
Liu, Lydia (1999). ‘Beijing Soujourners in New York: Postsocialism and the Question of Ideology in Global Media Culture’. positions: east asia cultures critique 7.3:763–97.
MICHAEL KEANE

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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