International Communication of Chinese Culture

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 265–277 | Cite as

Chinese lighthearted comedies of the early 1960s

  • Ying BaoEmail author


This article examines the flourishing of lighthearted comedy (qing xiju) in Chinese cinema in the early 1960s. Through comedic conflicts generated by the reconfiguration of domestic and professional identities in socialist China, the lighthearted comedies used laughter as a corrective tool to advocate new social, political, and moral values, and in particular to redefine gendered space in society. Many of these films, with apparent links to the immediate mass campaigns and national policies promulgated by the state at the time, managed to provide innovative and rich entertainment with nuanced ideological messages in everyday situations. As exemplified in popular comedies such as Li Shuangshuang, Female Barber, Satisfied or Not, and Big Li, Little Li, and Old Li, Chinese filmmakers were active in exploring new themes and styles in a volatile environment while trying to connect to various artistic and cultural traditions. A close examination of the dynamic negotiations between ideological obligation and artistic expression in these comedies reveals the constraints and potentials of artistic agency, and helps us understand the intertwined relationship between the comic and the political.


Genre film Lighthearted comedy Chinese cinema The early 1960s Culture of laughter Artistic agency 


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Copyright information

© Academy for International Communication of Chinese Culture 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of World Languages and CulturesUniversity of Nevada Las VegasLas VegasUSA

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