Course:ASIA321/2022/Liu Xiaoqing

From UBC Wiki
Liu Xiaoqing in early years

Liu Xiaoqing: Actress and Billionaire - A Charismatic New Woman of PRC


Liu Xiaoqing might not be a familiar name for western audiences. But her legendary life experiences have left huge impressions on the Chinese audience. From a sent-down youth in the countryside to a widely known actress in China, Liu Xiaoqing’s life experienced a huge turn in the socialist China era. After the opening and reform began, she was also one of the first celebrities who embraced the market economy and utilized her fame for wealth. However, fame and wealth brought her not only a better life but also misery as well. This Wiki page collects many comments and emulations from famous commentators and public views. It is intended to provide new perspectives for scholars specialized in Asian studies, and it can satisfy people who are interested in knowing her as well.


Liu Xiaoqing (刘晓庆) is a Chinese actress born in Chongqing, a city in South-Western China. Liu Xiaoqing debuted as an actress by starring as the female protagonist in the film Nan Hai Chang Cheng (1973, The Great Wall of the South China Sea) which was produced by the August First Film Studio, a state-owned film product factory. From 1987 to 1989, Liu Xiaoqing won the Best Actress Award at the Hundred Flowers Award three times with her roles in the films Fu Rong Zhen (1986), Yuan Ye (1987), and Chun Tao (1988). In addition to being an actor, Liu Xiaoqing, a businessman, accumulated wealth and founded his own company by starting commercial performances across the country in the late 1980s. In 1995, she left the film and television industry for 5 years and devoted herself to business. However, on June 20, 2002, Liu Xiaoqing was criminally detained for tax evasion. On August 16, 2003, she was released on bail pending trial after being detained in the detention center for more than a year. After she was released from prison, she returned to the film and television industry and paid off her debts by taking on a large number of TV series and movies in a short period of time.

Life roles

Liu Xiaoqing in Arts Tropes

A Witness of the Cultural Revolution

Liu Xiaoqing grew up in an intellectual family. Her father was a professor of medicine, and her mother graduated from the School of Education and served as the middle school's principal.[1]

When Liu Xiaoqing was admitted to the Middle School Affiliated with the Sichuan Conservatory of Music and majored in Yangqin (a Chinese traditional instrument), the Cultural Revolution broke out. As an underground party member born in a landlord family, Liu Xiaoqing’s father was labeled as a "landlord" and a "traitor" in this political movement and had his legs broken by the protestors then no longer to walk.[1]

Liu Xiaoqing Doing Commercial Performances

After graduating from middle school, Liu Xiaoqing was sent down to the Xuanhan County Farm and began to work as an "educated" youth. During those years, Liu Xiaoqing did not give up practicing Yangqin in addition to completing her labor tasks. Later, when the army was recruiting actors for Revolutionary opera, Liu Xiaoqing joined the army's propaganda team because of her yangqin and singing skills.

Ups and Downs of A Business Woman

After the Cultural Revolution, Liu Xiaoqing, as an employee of the Beijing Film Studio, a state-owned film-making studio, quickly built her own wealth by performing commercially throughout the country. Starting from 1995, she founded her own company, became an entrepreneur, and was ranked 42nd in Forbes’s China's 50 Richest Businessmen by the end of 1999.[2] However, Liu Xiaoqing's life took a huge turn in 2002. On July 24, 2002, Liu Xiaoqing was arrested on suspicion of tax evasion and was released on bail on August 16, 2003. And 422 days of prison life brought a huge change to her attitude towards life, and she returned to the work of an actor. With the help of Zhang Jizhong, Jiang Wen, and other friends, she returned to the film and television industry and shot a lot of TV dramas in a short period of time in order to pay off her debts.

Screen roles

Nan Hai Chang Cheng, 1976

Liu Xiaoqing's roles on the screen can be divided into two categories. The first one is the image of rural women, and the second one is the image of the heroine in historical dramas. At first, she often played tragic rural heroines who struggle against different forces in rural films. In her later years, she often plays the queen roles that enjoy seizing the power of the country in historical films or plays the female characters who control the supreme power in mythic films.


Liu Xiaoqing can be considered a talented actress since she appeared on the screen. In the 1970s, the August First Film Studio’s remake of Hai Ying (The Sea Eagle) was put on hold, but after she graduated from middle school, she became a soldier in the army. In her debut film, Nan Hai Chang Cheng (The Great Wall of the South China Sea), she played the role of Tian Mei (sweet sister), which embodies female heroism and the spirit of fighting against the enemy. Her acting was well received by the audience.

Wu Ze Tian Mi Shi, 2011

Rural Woman

Fu Rong Zhen, 1986

In the 1980s, Liu Xiaoqing successively produced many high-quality films, such as Fu Rong Zhen (Furong Town), Yuan Ye (Wilderness) and Chun Tao, etc. She won the Best Actress Award of the Hundred Flowers Award for three consecutive years. In particular, since Liu Xiaoqing learned to act in drama in her early years in a drama troupe, she accepted the film Yuan Ye directed by Ling Zi, which was adapted from Cao Yu's drama of the same name. The film gained huge success and was nominated for the 1988 Chinese Film Golden Rooster Awards.

Female Dictators

As China opening up, Liu began to work with Hong Kong actors and mainly played women in positions of power. In Da Tai Jian Li Lian Ying (Li Lianying, the Grand Eunuch) released in 1991, Liu played the Empress Dowager Cixi of the Qing Dynasty who held the entire power of controlling the whole country and portrayed her experiences in her later years. The film won a special prize at the Berlin Film Festival in 1990. Since then, Liu's screen appearances have been dominated by women who seize the power of controlling, such as Wu Zetian in the TV series Wu Ze Tian, Empress Dowager Meng in Jiang Shan Mei Ren (the Beauty of the Country), and Empress Xiaozhuang in Chang He Dong Liu ( Long River to the East).

Substantive analysis of the celebrity's profession

A Critical Analysis of Fu Rong Zhen

The Reduction of Realism -- the Victim of Class Struggle

Fu Rong Zhen, Selling Tofu

Hu Yuyin was a woman trader who earned her fortune by working in the 1960s. During the Cultural Revolution in China, she was unable to fight oppression but still managed to face reality and live without dignity. At the same time, she has the spirit of struggle. In the process of reform through labor (Lao Gai), she can still bravely accept love and find the hope for living. Her image reflects countless powerless against the oppression of the civilian microcosm. This movie also shows the process of the destruction of a beautiful rural woman, and the sad mood when she got the new life. This film displays a realistic style , which truly and objectively restores the absurdity and cruelty of Chinese society during the Cultural Revolution and the situation of the civilians who are powerless to resist after being oppressed.[3]

Beauty and Sexual Desire -- Metaphors of Human Nature

Fu Rong Zhen, Hu Yuyin and Qin Shutian

Hu Yuyin's performer, Liu Xiaoqing, has a pure face that fits the image and aesthetic of the typical rural woman of the Cultural Revolution with a round, apricot-eyed and flushed face. The film criticizes that Li Guoxiang and Wang Qiushe as a pair of partners are hypocritical in front of others but actually are very filthy and contrasts these two people with Hu Yuyin and Qin Shutian who have pure sexual desire. Liu Xiaoqing's beautiful face in line with the Cultural Revolution-era aesthetic and highlights Hu Yuyin's natural sexual desire as portrayed in the film.

The Cultural Revolution -- the common experience of actors and Characters

Liu Xiaoqing herself had many opportunities to perform during the Cultural Revolution. For example, she went to a farm in Sichuan in 1970 and became one of the members in the art troupe of the army. Later, she was admitted to the opera troupe, and had much performance experience. In the film Fu Rong Zhen, Liu Xiaoqing, with her own real experience in the countryside in the past, grasped and interpreted the changes of Hu Yuyin accurately. In the early stage of the film, Liu Xiaoqing shows Hu Yuyin's outgoing personality through her tone and actions. Although Hu Yuying becomes short-spoken in the middle period, Liu Xiaoqing shows the wariness and timidity of Hu Yuyin during the period of accepting the labor camp through his eyes. At the end of the movie, Liu Xiaoqing shows the complicated and contradictory emotions of the character by her exaggerated performance.

Liu Xiaoqing's contribution to the professional field

Liu Xiaoqing's acting style in the film is poetic realism.

In the performance part of realism, Liu Xiaoqing pays attention to the social reality and achieves the effect of shocking the soul and enlightening the society with his superb artistic expression.[4] In the movie Chun Tao, Liu Xiaoqing plays the beautiful soul of the main character Chun Tao who collects garbage for a living. When picking up garbage, she really acted as a woman picking up garbage from the inside out. When she picked up a pen and handed it to the little girl, she showed her sincere and beautiful smile of this role with the messy hair and sticky sweat. This is Liu Xiaoqing's realistic aesthetics based on the real life shown in the movie.

Liu's performance also has a "poetic style". The so-called "poetic style" refers to transcends the constraints of specific real time and space to express the integration and perception of life philosophy. The poetic performance style is "the most oriental sentiment and charm", which is regarded as the most able to reflect the artistic and cultural traditions of Chinese national characteristics.[5] In the reality-themed film Fu Rong Zhen, the main character Hu Yuyin experienced the real-life injustice and being persecuted by political struggles. Liu Xiaoqing's portrayal of Hu Yuyin's detailed manner and facial expression and the figure of her dancing with Qin Shutian while sweeping the street in the morning are full of poetic expressions. This poetic realism style of performance shows life in a big frame and poetry in details. This not only integrates the movie characters into the general environment of life properly, but also reflects the poetic expression of the characters in the details.[6]

In 1979, after the reform and opening up, Liu Xiaoqing starred in the film Xiao Hua (Little Flower), which won 11 nominations in the 12 awards of the Hundred Flowers Awards. With its innovation in content and form, "Little Flower" not only helped Liu Xiaoqing gain fame but was also credited by Yin Hong, a Professor at School of Journalism and Communication at Tsinghua University, as the film that launched the reform and opening up of Chinese films and changed the aesthetics of Chinese films.[7]

Professional Awards
Year Event Award Nominated Work
1987 Golden Rooster Awards Best Female Actress Fu Rong Zhen
1988 Best Female Actress Yuan Ye
1987 Hundred Flowers Awards Best Female Actress Fu Rong Zhen
1988 Best Female Actress Yuan Ye
1989 Best Female Actress Chun Tao
1990 Special Award Da Tai Jian Li Lian Ying
1987 Golden Phoenix Awards Performing Art Award Fu Rong Zhen
1989 Yuan Ye
Personal Honors
Year Institution Honor
1979 Ministry of Culture of PRC Youth Outstanding Creation Award
1987 Wenhui Bao First Place in the Best Actress Award
1993 China Film Association Top 10 Movie Star Awards
2005 China Film Performance Art Academy Top 100 Outstanding Actors Within A Hundred Year
2005 National Radio and Television Administration Outstanding Film Artist Title
2005 The Beijing News Chinese Film Hall of Fame
2006 Mainstream Media Including Sohu Outstanding Contribution Award
2013 The Tripod Award Annual Achievement Award

Key societal, economic, political, moral, and historical forces that influenced Liu Xiaoqing's career

The influence of new culture on Liu Xiaoqing's female image

During the filming of Chun Tao, Chinese films showed the ideological collision and communication with the new culture of "May Fourth Movement". Many films began to be adapted from modern literature, such as Yuan Ye, Chun Tao.[7] Under the influence of the new culture, the role of Hu Yuyin in Fu Rong Zhen as one of the common people gradually appeared on the public stage. The film critic Yin Hong pointed out that the image of Liu Xiaoqing who wears a broken straw hat and a basket on his back became the "representative of a generation of kind and stubborn Chinese women”.[7] It can be seen that in the 1970s and 1980s, the new culture reduplication played an important role in promoting the trend of the film and television industry.

The new culture also influenced Liu Xiaoqing herself. Although in traditional Chinese culture, women who display individualism are often not easy to be accepted by the society. Liu Xiaoqing, under the trend of the new culture, displayed the female characters with distinct personalities, such as Cixi. She even wrote a book called Wo De Lu (My Way) that influenced a whole generation.[7] From the book, the audience in Shanghai saw Liu Xiaoqing created a new woman image who has modern consciousness.[8]

The impact of reform and opening up on Liu Xiaoxing's acting career

In the 1980s, Liu Xiaoqing, as an actress at the Beijing Film Studio, received only a salary of 50 yuan per month. Although Liu was already a household name in China, she was only able to make ends meet materially with only 50 yuan per month. At that time, Liu was responsible for all the expenses of her family of six, and her salary of 50 yuan was not enough to take the burden of life.[9] After the reform and opening up, the market economy was gradually established so that the opportunities for commercial performance also gradually increased. So in the context of the gradual liberalization of economic restrictions, out of family financial pressure and the desire for better material life, Liu began to Zouxue- that is, to perform commercially throughout the country.[9]

Zouxue brought great changes to Liu's material life, as well as new changes to her acting career. She gained a deep insight into the commercial value of fame in the market economy, set up her own company, converted her fame into investment money and co-invested in "The Burning of Afang Palace" with other enterprises, and made full use of her fame to sell the TV series at a sky-high price during the whole process from preparation to promotion to it. By fully exploiting her business value, Liu was successfully ranked in the top 50 of Forbes China's rich list by the end of 1999.[2]

The impact of Cultural Revolution on Liu Xiaoqing's past years

The legend of Liu Xiaoqing is also part of the legend of contemporary China. As a woman, she grew up in the "Cultural Revolution" era, experienced a planned economy and a commodity society.  Liu Xiaoqing said: "Since I was born, every step of my life has followed the changes in Chinese society and history. Due to my personality, I like new things and are on the cusp of historical changes. So my personal growth history In fact, it is inseparable from the general background of Chinese society. The history of my personal growth is the history of China's development." When she was in elementary school, the "Cultural Revolution" began. The stepfather, uncle and others who were originally members of the CCP underground party in the east of Sichuan all became "traitors" overnight.[10]

During this period, 15-year-old Liu Xiaoqing also witnessed the cruelty of the "Cultural Revolution". Sichuan is the place with the most powerful martial arts in the country. "Once, a few students rushed into the arsenal, drove out a tank, rampaged, and were invincible, only to be attacked by anti-tank shells from another faction. In a blink of an eye, a few students became coke, and the tank became a A pile of scrap iron." This provided the background basis for her future films reflecting on the Cultural Revolution, such as Fu Rong Zhen. These films established her position in the Chinese film industry, helped her to quickly become known to the audience, and at the same time gained professional recognition. Besides, Liu's memoir, from which this excerpt is taken, was written at the height of the Mao Cult and it reflects sentiments that many of her generation have when contemplating their youth, a time when they were enthralled by the revolutionary zeal of the Cultural Revolution. Regardless of the horrors of those years-and there is no dearth of material concerning what Mao's rule did to China-for many, his was an age of passion, excitement, and social engagement. Maoism was suffused with religiosity and catered to young idealists yearning for sincerity and altruism. These are things unknown and unthinkable in Deng Xiaoping's China.[11]

Reception of the celebrity

In Liu Xiaoqing's more than 40 years of star career, the society's evaluation of her has always been mixed. This is inseparable from the image Liu Xiaoqing himself presents to the public and the multiplicity of his social identities.

1980s-1990s: From popular movie star to billionaire sister

Liu Xiaoqing has plastic surgery

As a Chinese film and TV actor, Liu Xiaoqing was popular in the era, that is, most of the film and television dramas in which she played the leading role were mostly produced in the 1980s and 1990s - a China still in the midst of TV media and paper media. the age of the Lord. From the perspective of being an actor, the public loves and recognizes Liu Xiaoqing as a whole, including her appearance and acting skills. The Shanghai Youth Film Critics Association released a survey on "Liu Xiaoqing in the eyes of Shanghai audiences" in 1986, and the result was that Liu Xiaoqing topped the list of "favorite actresses" in the audience's hearts that year.[8] It gives moderately positive comments to Liu Xiaoqing, that her performance is malleable and sincere, which suits the aesthetic tastes of the Chinese people. However, she also pointed out that her performance has shortcomings such as too strong self-awareness and insufficient excavation of the characters' hearts.

After the 1980s, with the wave of reform and opening up sweeping China's cultural and entertainment industry, Liu Xiaoqing has many other identities besides actors, including businessmen, writers and so on. The public's attention and comments on Liu Xiaoqing are no longer limited to her performance in film and television works, but focus more on Liu Xiaoqing's image in front of the media. Appearance changes, emotional experiences and identity transitions have become more of a focus of public debate about her. A large number of private media have written articles to analyze whether Liu Xiaoqing has undergone plastic surgery, which has a guiding effect on the judgment of the public. However, Liu Xiaoqing herself insisted that China's plastic surgery technology was not developed at that time, so he did not have any plastic surgery. In 1982, Liu Xiaoqing and her first husband Chen Li divorced. In 1980, Liu and Chen Guojun met while filming the movie Deep in His Heart. At that time, Chen Guojun was still married. Liu Xiaoqing inserted into Chen's marriage as a third party, causing Chen to choose to divorce his first wife. After living together for three years, the two got married in 1988 but eventually divorced in 1990. Liu Xiaoqing's rich and tortuous emotional experience and moral flaws that were not accepted by the world caused an uproar in the public opinion at that time. In addition, the rapid development of the entertainment media industry has made Liu Xiaoqing's lace news grow exponentially. The media's exaggerated and distorted fake news reports about her disclosed in Liu Xiaoqing's autobiography include beating the audience, selling trophies, and quarreling with reporters.(Cited from: Liu Xiaoqing. 1995. Wo De Zibailu: Zong Dianying Mingxing Dao Yiwan Fujie (My Confessions: From a Film Star to a Female Billionaire).[12]

Liu Xiaoqing's remarkable achievements in business were recognized at the time. In 1997, a reporter specially interviewed Liu Xiaoqing and published this report to show Liu Xiaoqing's outstanding business leadership and contribution to promoting China's good cultural image. Not only that, with the publication of Liu Xiaoqing's first, second, and third autobiographies, Liu Xiaoqing's impression in the public's mind is gradually associated with "strong women", which is related to the many "Wu Zetian" classic women she starred in after her comeback. The image of the strong echoes.[13]

Liu Xiaoqing evaded taxes

2002-2005: Increasing Declining of Reputations

However, in 2002, the State Administration of Taxation of China found out that since 1996, Liu Xiaoqing and his company had evaded tax by falsely reporting income and expenses, with a total tax evasion of 14 million yuan. On June 19, Liu Xiaoqing was arrested in Beijing and detained in the Beijing Public Security Bureau Detention Center.[14] This incident caused a public uproar, and Liu Xiaoqing's personal reputation and image also suffered a great blow. Comments turned negative on her, criticizing her for being greedy and not following morals and laws. After 2003, Liu Xiaoqing was released from prison on bail, and then she returned to the film and television industry, and continued to restore her reputation and repay her debts by participating in TV series.[15]

Critical literature review

Eyes Full of Emotions–On Liu Xiaoqing's eyes expressions in Fu Rong Zhen

Zhou Wenhu in his article "Dazzling Eyes with Ten Thousand Feelings" discusses Liu Xiaoqing's expression in one's eyes in Fu Rong Zhen, argues that Liu 's expression of eyes enhances the artistic charm of the film to attract the audience.[16] Zhou analyzed the driving force of the expression of eyes on the plot from the perspectives of characters' personality, different situations, and different emotions. He takes an example of Hu Yuyin's sparkling eyes when she was selling tofu, which showed Hu Yuyin's outgoing personality and her passionate pursuit of life in the early stage.[16] The author also uses examples to demonstrate that when Hu Yuyin gets along with Guigui, Liu Xiaoqing conveys the feeling of shyness and fulfillment of her wish, which reflects Liu's interpretation of the cleverness of the character.[16] The author compares the happy eyes of Hu Yuyin and Guigui when they celebrate the new house with her embarrassed eyes when she saw Li Guoxiang breaking into the house.[16] This explains Liu Xiaoqing's different control and transformation of the characters' eyes in different scenes. The author also pays attention to the changes in the level of Liu Xiaoqing's expressions of eyes. Through the way of expression description, Liu Xiaoqing's vivid eyes in the film are clearly presented. Zhou's article provides readers with a new perspective to analyze an actress's artistic performance and leads us to analyze actress's understanding of a role from the perspective of her acting skills.

Liu Xiaoqing: Tax Evasion Is Not My Faulty

Li Mu in the article “Liu Xiaoqing: Tax Evasion Is Not My Fault” analyses the diverse feedback on Liu Xiaoqing’s tax evasion scandal from different perspectives of the public and the skate holders. Li argues that, regarding this dramatic case, analysis from different sides is of necessity and proposed his thoughts on the improvement of the design and implementation of China’s tax system.[17] Li demonstrates the severity of the scandal brought to Liu Xiaoqing and her family by showcasing official discourse on Liu Xiaoqing’s case, e.g. Premier Zhu Rongji commented “Handle it in accordance with the law”.[17] Li also provides a more comprehensive perspective to understanding the case by including entertainment celebrities’ comments on it. In those comments, in addition to the ones claiming personal commitment to laws, Tu Honggang, a famous singer, his comments also mentioned that avoiding taxes evasion requires refinement of the related statute. Through questioning the sources of prevalent tax evasion problems, Li brings out his thinking on how tax evasion problems should be resolved by improving the design of the existing tax system and calls on the government to strengthen the strictness and justice of tax law enforcement. Li's article provides a new perspective of viewing Liu Xiaoqing's tax evasion case and leads us to think about the defect in the design of existing tax system.

A Feminist Reading of Chinese Actress Liu Xiaoqing’s Screen Roles and Life Story

Media scholars Shenshen Cai and Emily Dunn demonstrate from a feminist perspective how Liu Xiaoqing, as a social and cultural symbol of contemporary China's "strong woman", highlights the many changes and trends in the lives of women in post-socialist China[18]. Her case illustrates how Chinese women's attitudes toward professional career success, love, marriage, and family issues have negotiated these ongoing vicissitudes and changes; and how transformation of thought has led to an evolution in the development of feminist narratives and discourses in present-day China .

The author believes that Liu Xiaoqing is a model of new women in post-socialist China[18]. Liu Xiaoqing aids in unshackling the customary female image adopted by the patriarchal and official ideologies by creating an innovative identity for contemporary Chinese women. By citing the theory of Dai Jinhua, China's foremost Marxist feminist critic, the author attempts to deconstruct socialism and Women's discourse in the post-socialist era, and find evidence that Liu Xiaoqing broke through the blockade of official feminist discourse. He quotes Lydia H. Liu, stating that in the case of Chinese women’s emancipation, the socialist gender discourse forged another kind of oppression rather than salvation on Chinese females. China women just added modern roles to the feudal roles they had inherited, multiplying their estrangement from personal being or social standing. In the new post-socialist era, Chinese female writers have initiated a fashion of re- appropriating the historical classification of women in order to empower the female gender, and undo the values ​​which the state and conventional patriarchy have engraved on the female body. The case of Liu Xiaoqing serves as a typical example of this phenomenon. In her autobiographies, film , and TV roles, and her outstanding performance and accomplishments in the business world, Liu Xiaoqing endeavors to unshackle the traditional female image appropriated by the patriarchal and official ideologies. Consequently, she asserts her difference as a female, gains authorial control, and achieves autonomy .

This article uses a feminist perspective to give a positive and transformative evaluation of Liu Xiaoqing's image, and also uses Liu Xiaoqing's case to analyze the model of post-socialist feminism in China. This makes Liu Xiaoqing's celebrity image an important reference for studying social issues[18].

Examination into the Myth of Liu Xiaoqing

Liu Xiaoqing--Building "New Public Authority" with Packaging

Former "People's Daily" senior economic reporter Zhang Jinli expressed his opposition to Liu Xiaoqing's excessive praise and absolute approval by the Chinese masses in a critical essay on Liu Xiaoqing "owing the most popularity as an actress in China" in 1997. His point is that Liu Xiaoqing is not the best actress in China, but the most outstanding PR master.[19] In fact, this comment is highly ironic because he gives Liu Xiaoqing's public image a negative image, showing that the image she has built in people's hearts and her popularity did not come from her own work, but uses all means to prevent viewers from getting negative news about her.

Zhang first denied that Liu Xiaoqing could be regarded as the top actress in China from an acting point of view. By analyzing Liu Xiaoqing's performance in films such as Fu Rong Zhen and Dream of the Red Chamber, he said that although Liu Xiaoqing has performed well in some works, it is usually concentrated in those works whose characters are very close to her own image.[19] For example, in the film Chun Tao, Liu Xiaoqing portrayed Chuntao as an almost relaxed modern woman without reflecting her confusion and struggle in the dilemma of morality and lust.[19] In addition, although Liu Xiaoqing has won the Hundred Flowers Award, the Golden Rooster Award, which has more gold content and harsher judgment on acting skills, has never recognized her.[19] This also shows that Liu Xiaoqing's acting skills cannot be compared with real artists such as Cao Cuifen and Siqin Gaowa.

Then, Zhang suggested that Liu Xiaoqing's long-term popularity is because she is good at packaging herself, that is, hyping her news.[19] The author gives an example of Liu Xiaoqing's big news breaking out almost every year, and he will be the protagonist in the newspaper headlines every few months.[19] And these news are often controversial private gossip that are most likely to attract public attention, such as divorce battles, abuse of other actors, and high prices for American performances. He analyzed in detail how Liu Xiaoqing built a "virtuous circle" from fame to money through hype. Making news keeps her at the center of public opinion, staying in the audience's cognition and memory, and has the opportunity to be known by more people. The more famous she is, the more companies come to her to make films. All over the world, she was invited to perform, allowing her to earn more money from it. She will continue to use the wealth to get more media coverage of her news.

Finally, Zhang concluded by digging into the relationship between public reaction and Liu Xiaoqing's fame, that is, the created portrait of Liu Xiaoqing's celebrity satisfies the public's psychological demands for promoting self-awareness in the era of commodity economy, and also reflects the Chinese people's worship of authority. National Psychological Consciousness. Liu Xiaoqing's external words and deeds, as well as her review of her life experience in her autobiography, allowed her to establish a charming image of rebellion against tradition and economic independence in front of the public. She has become an idol in the hearts of thousands of people struggling in real life, because she pinned the dream of the era, especially women, to pursue individual liberation. However, when Liu Xiaoqing moved from the edge to the center, she could not help being alienated into her own opposite. No one dared to point out her shortcomings. Even if she made mistakes and illegally evaded taxes, some people covered it up for her, thinking it was forgivable. For her fame, there have been many absurd incidents, such as audience stampede accidents, autobiography sold for sky-high prices, etc. The real Liu Xiaoqing is buried in the cultural tradition with her as a symbol, which represents people's hypocritical unwillingness to deny their positive evaluation of her. This is because when Liu Xiaoqing becomes the new hegemon of public authority, there is only one voice left in the entire public opinion circle. Without checks and balances, Liu Xiaoqing can "do whatever she wants".

This article constructively demonstrates the anti-authenticity of Liu Xiaoqing's celebrity image, and deeply analyzes the key factors that promote the formation of "Liu Xiaoqing's celebrity cultural effect" from the perspective of public acceptance.

Critical debates

Does the film Fu Rong Zhen show the historical reality?

According to Zhou Wenhu's article, Chinese society at that time focused on the reflection of the Cultural Revolution. Xie Jin, the director of Fu Rong Zhen, displays the social environment during the Cultural Revolution when shaping the film. In the promotion of Cultural Revolution-themed films, Fu Rong Zhen has high requirements for the shaping of plots and the performance of actors.

Different film critics have different opinions about the plot of the film. From a historical point of view, the plot of Fu Rong Zhen does not directly restore the real scene or record what really happened. Instead, the film combines the background of the Cultural Revolution to fabricate Hu Yuying's story and presents it to the audience, guiding the audience to reflect on the drawbacks and dregs that the Cultural Revolution brought to society.[20] The story of Hu Yuying is intended to resonate with the audience, yet Hu Yuying has no real prototype in real life. Therefore, from the perspective of history, this film cannot be considered as a historical documentary, but it can reflect the lives of ordinary people under the historical background of The Times and warn people of the harm brought to Chinese society by the extreme left social line.

Is Liu Xiaoqing's autobiography valuable?

With the release of Liu Xiaoqing's autobiography, there has been constant controversy over Liu Xiaoqing's continuous self-commercialization. According to Jin Xin’s article “The product of commercial hype and kitsch”, Jin argues that Liu Xiaoqing’s publications are worthless and meaningless for 3 main reasons.[21] First, the value of this book was not reflected through the words, but through the fame of Liu Xiaoqing.[21] Before Liu’s autobiography was published, the title had been bought out by a merchant for 1.8 million yuan at an auction. Second, Liu’s opinions in the book were not consistent with her behaviors in real life.[21] Her self-depiction as a woman enduring hard times to succeed contradicts the fact that as a successful celebrity, she already owned the privilege that others don’t possess. Third, her self-confession is very shallow.[21]

However, some scholars affirm that there are still some values in Liu Xiaoqing’s publications. Quan Zhan in the article “Value cannot hide flaws” gives an analysis of the values reflected in Liu’s publication and its flaws.[22] Quan pointed out that compared to autobiographies written by or for celebrities, what made Liu’s stand out was that she doesn't hide her true self from the viewers and is willing to expose her shortcomings.[22] Therefore, yet still having shortcomings such as catering to the reader's voyeurism, this book still has its own value.

Is Liu Xiaoqing a real feminist representative?

In the views of Cai Shenshen and other scholars, there is no doubt that Liu Xiaoqing is the spokesperson of China's avant-garde feminists, because she highlights both of traditional and modern femininity: not only symbolizing beauty, tenderness and longing for love, but also signifying independence, strength and unyielding entrepreneurial spirit.[23] Reluctance to be subordinate to men is the most apparent way to demonstrate feminism on a social level. One example shows that Liu Xiaoqing clearly possesses this feminist quality as defined by the Westerners. When she married her fourth husband, Wang Xiaoyu, the registrar asked her if she wanted to change her name to her husband's surname[23]. Before the registrar could finish speaking, she hurriedly interrupted, because she didn't want to be called as Xiaoqing Wang rather than Liu Xiaoqing once she won the Oscar one day.

However, there are still some arguments that Liu Xiaoqing are not supposed to be considered as a feminist in the true sense, as she herself does not think so. In her opinion, if a person advocates women's rights, then she admits that she is inferior to men.[23] She just felt that in today's society, it is not easy for women and it is not easy for men.[23] Before the public, Liu Xiaoqing is never willing to enable others to feel her vulnerability, so she always looks strong, just like the legendary women she has played. But she said that she is neither Wu Zetian nor Cixi in life, and her character is not as mighty as them. This shows the contradiction between her life image and her screen image.

We claim that the reason why this issue has been debated is that some scholars stereotyped Liu Xiaoqing into a feminist analytical framework, ignoring the special social and cultural environment that shaped Liu Xiaoqing. This makes Liu Xiaoqing's uniqueness concealed. Her value is not unfolded as a representative of Chinese feminism, but a pioneering way to lead Chinese women to bravely interpret and express their own stories with developing a personal life. The reason why this issue has been debated is that some scholars stereotyped Liu Xiaoqing into a feminist analytical framework, ignoring the special social and cultural environment that shaped Liu Xiaoqing. This makes Liu Xiaoqing's uniqueness concealed. Her value is not unfolded as a representative of Chinese feminism, but a pioneering way to lead Chinese women to bravely interpret and express their own stories and develop a personal life.

From one perspective, the Liu Xiaoqing phenomenon bears out the neoliberal narrative of the success of contemporary Chinese women in the post-socialist era. Her success is, to some degree, due to the social recognition, prestige, and economic liberty she achieved. However, Liu’s success is not easily comparable to the Western liberal economic version of feminism as there are many political, social, and cultural differences between China and the West. Further, the understanding and interpretation of the term ''independent and strong females'' is different in China and can have different implications in the Chinese societal context, as in China, strong women, such as female academics with Phds, are considered “a third” gender, somewhere between male and female. They are seen as overly intelligent, ultra-independent, and unusually strong-minded; thus, they are not seen as being a desirable partner in marriage.[18]

Based on these considerations, a Sino-specific feminist discourse concerning successful Chinese women is more amenable to an inquiry into the Liu Xiaoqing phenomenon than an inquiry within the parameters of any established feminist theories that are popular within the Western academy. Therefore, we argue that Liu Xiaoqing is a kind of typical post-socialism feminist, which shall be analyzed incorporating with the dialogue, framework, and research between both Chinese and Western feminist scholars who specialize in the place of women in China, both during and since the socialist period. As Liu Xiaoqing’s life and career traverses these two historical and political phases, her experiences and stories are useful and inspirational in explaining the life journeys of the Chinese women of both eras. From the Tie Niang Zi (Iron girls)and daughters of the Party in the socialist period, to the avant-garde and “strong women” of the Deng Xiaoping era, Chinese women have experienced many vicissitudes, both physically and psychologically, and Liu Xiaoqing’s challenges and successes provide a model for her audiences and fans to admire and follow.[18]               


Liu Xiaoqing is a celebrity who has experienced almost each of the significant historical periods of the People's Republic of China so far. Her life experience and screen image reflect the brand of the times. We first displayed Liu Xiaoqing's three identities in her life: actor, businesswoman and writer. She opened a precedent for the biography of Chinese female actress. Through her autobiography, we understand her extraordinary mental journey. In the second part, we analyze the modifications of her screen image from before to after. In the early stage, it was always the image of rural women who had suffered a lot. In the later stage, the image of women who held power in Chinese history was often played. She has played Wu Zetian, Cixi, Wang Xifeng and other roles many times. The role's character forms an intertextual relationship with her own character. Then, we take the movie Fu Rong Zhen as an example to analyze the relationship between Hu Yuyin that she acted and her own experience. Liu Xiaoqing's early experience of the Cultural Revolution provided abundant nourishment for her character interpretation. We list and analyze Liu Xiaoqing's various awards, social evaluations, and her contributions to Chinese films. Political, social and economic factors have laid the foundation for the transformation of Liu Xiaoqing's personal development. The reform and opening up and the influence of the market economy on the entertainment industry have given Liu Xiaoqing the opportunity to get in touch with commercial performances and accumulated capital for her to open a company. Liu Xiaoqing's popularity continues to rise through her film and television works and news hype. She herself is also riddled with orderly negative news. In 2002, Liu Xiaoqing was imprisoned for more than 400 days on suspicion of tax evasion. This has taken a toll on her reputation. But Liu Xiaoqing quickly gained new development through performances, debt repayment and the publication of her autobiography after she was released from Qin Cheng prison. Finally, we structure the social nature and impacts of Liu Xiaoqing's celebrity image by discussing the evaluation and research of Liu Xiaoqing in the academic and press circles, especially the research on feminism. In addition, Liu Xiaoqing is not a movie star with a very influential international reputation. Her influence is obviously more limited to China, therefore she has more local Chinese characteristics, and she can better reflect the changes of Chinese women and public figures in different eras.


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  12. Liu, Xiaoqing (1995). Wo De Zibailu: Zong Dianying Mingxing Dao Yiwan Fujie (My Confessions: From a Film Star to a Female Billionaire). Shanghai: Shanghai Literature and Arts Press.
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