Both avant-garde and popular, Lucifer Hung's writing has attracted a significant amount of critical attention in Chinese academic circles for its explicit sexual and violent content. This article identifies an ethical conundrum faced by critics who want to support Hung's writing as emerging queer cultural production by framing it within progressive discourses of inclusion, but find that the explicit content of Hung's stories at best only rests uneasily within such a framework and therefore propose limited but significant reservations about Hung's queer, feminist, or postcolonial politics. Taking up this conundrum as marking the limits, both aesthetic and political, of the positive and legitimizing discourses of global gay identity, we argue that there is an innovative queer cultural politics to precisely the aspects of Hung's writings that cause the most discomfort for well-intentioned readers. We propose that both the narrative form and content of Hung's science fiction address the homophobic deployments of what we term reticent schadenfreude. By exposing how it renders oppositional or deviant sexual positionalities impossible or off the map of civil discourse in Chinese-speaking contexts, Hung challenges reticent schadenfreude's relative invisibility; by taking up the generic incorporating alien monster from science fiction cultures and appropriating it as a perverse narrative form and point of view, Hung refuses the trap of victim-ethicality as a default category for difference that wants to make itself heard.
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Research Article| May 01 2010
The Politics of Schadenfreude: Violence and Queer Cultural Critique in Lucifer Hung's Science Fiction
positions (2010) 18 (2): 351–372.
Amie Parry, Liu Jen-peng; The Politics of Schadenfreude: Violence and Queer Cultural Critique in Lucifer Hung's Science Fiction. positions 1 May 2010; 18 (2): 351–372. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-2010-004
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