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Maoist Laughter$
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Ping Zhu, Zhuoyi Wang, and Jason McGrath

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9789888528011

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888528011.001.0001

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Laughter, Ethnicity, and Socialist Utopia

Laughter, Ethnicity, and Socialist Utopia

Five Golden Flowers

(p.19) 1 Laughter, Ethnicity, and Socialist Utopia
(p.iii) Maoist Laughter

Ban Wang

Hong Kong University Press

Examining the 1959 film Five Golden Flowers (Wuduo jinhua), this chapter claims that eulogistic comedy propagates the principle of national unity in ethnic diversity by rallying popular passion and joy, and that a new comic aesthetic arose in Mao’s era from an understanding of the dignity of labor.  The new comedy challenges the shopworn dichotomy between the official and unofficial, the ethnic and the national, the lighthearted and the serious. In the 1950s through 1960s, far from being in opposition to the official, the comic is to bridge the gap between ethnic diversity and the emergent nation-state in search of socialist identity in the international arena. Rather than defined by ethnicity and culture, film comedy encourages men and women’s equal participation in socialist labor and the fun-filled ordinary life of love and work. The socialist concept of the Chinese people offers the image of an inclusive world where different ethnic groups can live together and mingle without domination.

Keywords:   laughter, ethnicity, labor, Socialist Utopia

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