• Video Killed the Martial Arts Star: Distribution Technologies and the Vagaries of Jackie Chan Fandom in Japan

    Lori Morimoto (see profile)
    Film Studies
    Fans (Persons)
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    Cult Cinema and Technological Change
    Conf. Org.:
    Aberystwyth University, Wales, United Kingdom
    Conf. Loc.:
    Wales, UK
    Conf. Date:
    April 15, 2014
    fan studies, Film studies, Japanese fans, Jackie Chan, Fan studies
    Permanent URL:
    When Jackie Chan was introduced to Japanese audiences in the early 1980s, he was promoted as the answer to the void that popular martial arts star Bruce Lee had left upon his death in 1975. The mischievous 'monkey' to Lee's more ferocious 'dragon', Chan's films were aggressively marketed to an audience of male martial arts fans; yet this comparatively softer persona, inflected by the kung-fu comedy of his mid-career oeuvre, made him equally appealing to a broader audience demographic. Distributors capitalized on this appeal by broadcasting his films on television and, thus, bringing him into a more mainstream milieu, with the effect that he lost much of his cult cache amongst young martial arts fans, who turned their attention to newer, and more niche stars such as the young Jet Li. As Chan's star set amongst his first cult fandom in Japan, it rose within a growing female fandom. Chan's accessible persona, coupled with his unconventional physical attractiveness, made him ripe for promotion in Japan as a pop star, and promotional activities such as the release of a music album entitled "Love Me," as well as a book detailing a version of his romantic history and future aspirations, cemented him as firmly outside the 'cult' milieu. Yet, at the same time as Chan was enjoying growing popular success in Japan, female fans of Hong Kong cinema were being introduced to an ever-increasing range of Hong Kong films on home rental video. The cumulative effect of this video exposure to the breadth of Hong Kong cinema was to render Chan 'dasai' – uncool – amongst an evolving audience of female Hong Kong film aficionados who would come to define Hong Kong film fandom in Japan in the 1990s. In this paper, I discuss the ways that technologies of film distribution such as television and VHS effected a mainstreaming of Chan's star persona in Japan that eventually became the counterpoint against which not one, but two gendered Hong Kong film fan subcultures defined themselves.
    PowerPoint slides available here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/b7dthlewfrp1ot0/LHMAberJackieChan.pptx?dl=0
    Last Updated:
    7 years ago
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