The perfect lie: Sandee Chan and lesbian representability in Mandarin pop music

Fran MARTIN
2003 Inter-Asia Cultural Studies  
The perfect lie 265 a function of globalization, the paper situates Sandee's music within the local context of its production and consumption in Taiwan and works toward a "microscopic" perspective on experiences of the music by nü tongzhi fans. In particular, it asks about a possible relationship between how nü tongxinglian (female homosexuality) is spoken (or unspoken) in Sandee's music, and the conditions of nü tongxinglian representability within Taiwan's contemporary public culture more
more » ... dly. The paper considers both the rhetorical figuration of nü tongxinglian as subtextual reticence in the texts of Sandee's song lyrics and music videos, and the activity of Sandee's nü tongzhi fans who find material here for the elaboration of oppositional meanings. Such a hybrid methodology -a combination of textual analysis and fan ethnographyrepresents the union of two approaches whose conceptual bases are sometimes taken to be discontinuous or incommensurable, if not opposed. The 1990s high moment of "queer theory," for example, was frequently criticized for its supposedly narrow emphasis on the textual at the expense of the more broadly social (Seidman 1995). While one might respond effectively to this charge with the observation that representation is nothing if not thoroughly social, historical, and political, nevertheless it is instructive to combine the insights garnered through textualist close-reading strategies with understandings of the lived consumption of texts by their audiences. Such a combination of approaches also underscores the fact that the textual is certainly not the opposite of the everyday: interpretation is itself an everyday activity, and perhaps particularly in the case of the ubiquitous, quotidian, yet often hermeneutically complex phenomenon of pop music. Consideration of these two aspects in relation to Sandee's music suggests that the representation and experience of nü tongxinglian in contemporary Taiwan is structured around a particular kind of ambivalent reticence. 2 As has been shown, reticence on tongxinglian (homosexuality) is frequently the product of the disciplinary limitations enforced on tongzhi representation by homophobic forms of cultural power. Nonetheless, I will argue that the particular form of lesbian reticence Sandee's star image and musical output encode offers points of purchase for nü tongzhi to elaborate oppositional meanings that function by exploiting the potential ambivalence of reticence as a mode of representation.
doi:10.1080/1464937032000112999 fatcat:u5bv2jk2nzhy5e4zlfvvhtnoku