Strumming a place of one's own: Gender, independence and the East Asian pop-rock screen

Eva Tsai*, Hyunjoon Shin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The first decade of the 21st century has seen a concurrent rise of pop-rock screen productions in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, particularly feature films, documentaries and TV series informed by the guitar and/or band culture. This paper probes the popularisation of pop-rock in the region and asks what gender and sexual expressions have been mobilised in such productions and representations. The paper juxtaposes dominant gender tropes, such as the failing male rocker in search of rebirth (Korea), romantic youth pursuing authenticity (Japan), dazzling but also bedazzled rocker-girl on stage (Japan), indie music goddess in control of subdued femininity (Korea) and peripheral girl-with-acoustic-guitar who chronicles boys' sorrow (Taiwan). Responding to the familiar myth of rebellion in pop-rock discourses, our inter-referential analysis suggests that East Asian pop-rock screen is about the making of heterotopias rather than utopias.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-22
Number of pages16
JournalPopular Music
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Music


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