C3RI Research Seminar - What's Radical about Reality TV? An Unexpected Tale of a Chinese Antihero with Camila Bassi
Event contact Alison Honnor
Advancing a Marxist approach to the material realities of the contradictory relationship of sexuality to capitalist political economy, in this seminar I extend a focus on urban gay political economy to the regional and national political economy of television. Using the work of Karl Marx, Antonio Gramsci, and critical theorist Nancy Fraser, a story of China’s reality TV show Super Girl is explicated as generating momentary openings for a distinct lesbian subculture in Shanghai.
An interplay of global capital and Western commodity trends, and the relative but fragile autonomy of China’s regional political economy, concurrent with a reduction in force of the link between the accumulation of surplus value and the mode of sexual regulation, is shown to have produced Super Girl and enabled radical consumption outlets. Avoiding slippage into a notion of hegemonic containment, I warn against an Althusserian tendency within early work on gay political economy and an intersectionality analysis in sexuality studies, and demonstrate a Marxism sensitive to change in material realities shaped by both capital’s drive to universalise across time and space, and specific human agencies and conditions of existence.