||In 2003, Public Television’s Crystal Boys, adapted from Pai Hsienyung’s novel Nie Zi (1983) went on the prime time TV screen. Owing to the high reputations of the novel as well as of Public Television, prestigious for its strong social concern of the minority groups, the advent of Crystal Boys, including its production and casting, and most significantly, the representation of homosexuality have gained intense attention. Not only the LGBT community but also the heterosexual public was waiting to see how Public Television would translate the “notorious” homosexual characters in Pai Hsienyung’s novel. As expected, Crystal Boys’ showing resonated strongly with the LGBT community. Furthermore, it provoked unprecedented discussions from the academic, cultural, and entertainment fields. The numerous seminars, lectures, and TV and newspaper reports and interviews all become part of the “Crystal Boys phenomena.”
By comparing and contrasting Public Television’s Crystal Boys and Pai Hsienyng’s Nie Zi, this thesis explores how the concept of homosexuality is reconfigured and redefined in the mass media. This thesis views Nie Zi and Crystal Boys as cultural products of specific social contexts and as a site of multiple power struggles, including the heterosexual ideology, Public Television’s production motivation, the LGBT community’s expectation, the commercial consideration, and Pai Hsienyung’s insistence on the fidelity of the series to the novel. The different factors sometimes clash with each other, sometimes overlap with each other, and yet sometimes reinforce each other. The final representation of homosexuality can be viewed as the outcome of the power struggles. The battlefield extends from inside the series to the off-screen events, including promotion activities, the press conferences, and the relevant interviews and reports. Thus, by shedding critical light on the representation of homosexuality in the TV series as well as in the relevant events, I try to map the deployment of diverse fields of power so as to trace the trajectory of the concept of homosexuality in contemporary Taiwan society.
In the first part, following Gayle Rubin’s discussions of the sexual hierarchy, I explore how Public Television “de-stigmatizes” and “legitimates” homosexuality by purging if of the “deviant” sexualities and by endowing the homosexual characters with politically correct images. In response, the father and mother figures are adapted so as to accept these wayward children. Simultaneously, the (heterosexual) familial ethical value is endorsed but reconfigured to its modern version.
In the second part, I follows Liu Jenpeng and Ding Naifei’s discussions of the reticent politics to see how Public Television, under the disguise of how (“normative”) homosexuality is embraced and justified, deploy the reticent force to turn the homosexual sex (practices) into the penumbrae, becoming the unspeakable, unspoken, unrecognizable, and unrecognized. This analysis will lead to the discussions of the relationship between homosexuality and homosexual sex and of how homophobia is reconfigured in Crystal Boys. In the end, I will offer alternative queer readings of some reticent homosexual sex scenes to activate the counter-reticent force.
In the last part, my analysis extends from inside the series to the off-screen events to see how homosexuality is translated in relevant reports and interviews. This part could be viewed as both a reconfirmation and an extension of my previous discussions. At the end, I will conclude my thesis by examining the complicated negotiation between Crystal Boys as a cultural product in the mass media and contemporary Taiwan gay movement and give a critical review of the gain and loss that the former may bring to the latter.