Queerness within Chineseness : nationalism and sexual morality on and off the competition show The Rap of China

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

5 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-499
Journal / PublicationContinuum
Issue number4
Online published21 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes


This research inspects the media and public discourses surrounding the first season of the sensational Chinese reality TV rap competition, The Rap of China (iQiyi, 2017). Through the combined theoretical lenses of queer China studies and global media studies, I examine the show’s framing of linguistic, geocultural, gender and sexual variations in its construction of a nationalistic imaginary alongside China’s media and cultural globalization. I reveal a revised fantasy of ‘authentic Chineseness’ projected by the competition. I then offer a careful reading of the post-competition sexual scandal and the government’s 2018 crackdown on Chinese hip-hop. I consider the official criticism and censorship of Chinese rap as the government’s response to the public cultural panic over the threat to China’s hetero-patriarchal-structured sexual morality. I show that a self-contradictory imaginary of a globalized, modernized and diversified ‘Sinophone’ community located within mainland China was created and positioned at the party-state’s moral and cultural centre. In this imaginary, nonnormative cultures, identities, languages and forms of intimacy, which have often been ostracized or degraded in the linguistic, geopolitical and conjugal paradigms of mainstream Chinese culture, are enabled to negotiate a place within official culture and mass media, though often in limited and problematic ways.

Research Area(s)

  • Chinese rap, Chineseness, male homosociality, nationalism, sexual morality