Internet fan participation has demonstrated the emergent potency of meaning making for transnational stardom. With the ease of searching, poaching, editing, posting, tagging, and annotating texts aided by cyber technology, fans can rework the filmic and publicity materials about stars. The emergence of participatory cyberculture has further ethnicized or globalized transnational Chinese or Asian stars such as Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi, Chow Yun-fat, and Ken Watanabe, who are known for their compelling, exotic images to the Westernized audience. Among others, Takeshi Kaneshiro is a noteworthy instance who attracts critical attention and merits formal study. As a half-Japanese, half-Taiwanese movie star, Kaneshiro can never be placed in a definite cultural and ethnic category. His bi-ethnic, cosmopolitan image has distinguished him from his counterparts, occupying a specific space in popular stardom. With his increasing presence on global screens, Kaneshiro’s image is transposed from cinema to the Internet, a medium where fans can now actively participate in star construction. This essay focuses on Internet fan forums as a primary venue to investigate Kaneshiro and his Asian yet cosmopolitan star image. The author emphasizes four aspects of his stardom: (1) duality of appearance and acting, (2) cosmopolitan appeal as marketing strategy, (3) ambivalence between Hong Kongness and Japaneseness, and (3) Japanese connection. This article shows how online fan posts serve as a force to renegotiate and reshape a diverse, open-ended, and fluid online star phenomenon of Kaneshiro in the global entertainment arena that reaches beyond his cinematic presence. This article argues that Internet fan scrutiny opens up new dimensions in his star persona and, simultaneously, destabilizes with plurality and ambivalence. It also sheds light on how participatory fan discourse plots new contours of the transnational stardom and the cultural economies in the cyber era.
Discussing Takeshi Kaneshiro: The Pan-Asian Star Phenomenon on Internet Fan Forums
Dorothy Wai Sim Lau is an assistant professor at the Academy of Film, Hong Kong Baptist University. Her research interests include stardom, fandom, film theory, Asian cinema, transnational cinema, cyberculture, and digital culture. Her publications have appeared in Journal of Chinese Cinemas, Journal of Asian Cinema, and Continuum. Her first monograph, Chinese Stardom in Participatory Cyberculture, was published this year by Edinburgh University Press.