Exploring Morality and Sexuality in Asian Cinema : Cinematic Boundaries book cover
1st Edition

Exploring Morality and Sexuality in Asian Cinema
Cinematic Boundaries

ISBN 9780367597474
Published June 30, 2020 by Routledge
194 Pages

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Book Description

This ground-breaking book explores the moral dimensions of sexual imagery in contemporary, general-release Asian films. It examines debates that arise over aesthetic styles and the cultural and traditional influences that determine the content and impact of these films. The social and regulatory environments for filmmakers across Asia reflect distinct national and cultural differences. In just the past decade, for instance, Indian cinema has rapidly moved from representations of coy and submissive female protagonists to highly eroticized leading ladies unafraid of flaunting their sexuality. On the other hand, the cinema emerging from the Chinese mainland has been much more circumspect in its representations of overt sexuality, at times in conflict with other Chinese cinemas from Hong Kong and Taiwan. This use of sexual imagery or morally questionable film content raises on-going debates into censorship and the use of state or industry controls to protect certain sectors of society from exposure to particular narratives or images. Film, like all forms of art, fulfils a number of aesthetic functions for local, regional and international audiences. As distribution and technological advances make Asian films more readily available across the globe, an understanding of the different aesthetics at play will enable readers of this book to recognize key cultural motifs in representations of onscreen sexuality and the surrounding controversies found in cinematic texts from Asia.

Table of Contents

List of Figures vii

List of Tables ix

Acknowledgements xi

Introduction 1

1 Indian Cinema’s New Aesthetic 13

2 Visual Decorum and Chasteness in Chinese Film 41

3 Maintaining Respectability in Singaporean and Malaysian Cinema 73

4 An Open Mind: Japanese Cinema’s Sexual Revolution 99

5 Culture, Tradition and Sexuality in South Korean Cinema 117

Conclusion 131

Films Cited 141

Bibliography 149


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Dr. Peter C. Pugsley is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Media at the University of Adelaide in South Australia. He teaches in the subjects Asian Screen Media, Advanced Media Theory, Broadcast TV & Radio, and Japanese Media Cultures (taught in Kyoto, Japan). Peter was formerly based in the Media and Communications Program at the University of Melbourne, Australia, and also taught in the MA (Communications) at RMIT University. In October 2011 he was a Visiting Research fellow at Sophia University, Tokyo. In 2013 he published the sole-authored monograph Tradition, Culture and Aesthetics in Contemporary Asian Cinema (Ashgate). His published work has appeared in refereed journals including Asian Studies Review, International Communication Gazette, Asian Journal of Communication, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies and Westminster Papers on Communication and Culture. Recent book chapters include 'Hong Kong Film as Crossover Cinema: Maintaining the HK Aesthetic', in Crossover Cinema: Cross-Cultural Film from Production to Reception, (2013) edited by Sukhmani Khorana, Routledge, and ’Asia: The Nationalist Geopolitics of India's Hindi Cinema’, in The Routledge Companion to Film and Politics (2014), edited by Yannis Tzioumakis and Claire Molloy, Routledge, London.


’Pugsley offers fresh perspectives on how contemporary Asian cinemas are transforming by challenging the cultural policy regimes that historically have shaped the ways in which their films represent gender and sexuality on screen. This book is key reading for anyone interested in peering into the rise and transformation of Asia and learning more about a bevy of dynamic filmmakers and films that are pushing the boundaries of self-expression and cultural diversity in the region.’ Brian Yecies, University of Wollongong, Australia; author of The Changing Face of Korean Cinema, 1960-2015