Gender, Power and the Gaze in the Taiwanese TV series Falling (2013)

Zemanek, Adina Simona orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7960-8646 (2016) Gender, Power and the Gaze in the Taiwanese TV series Falling (2013). In: International Conference on Intersectional Perspectives on Migration, Displacement and Human Rights, 27-31 October 2016, Chang Jung Christian University, Tainan. (Unpublished)

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The Golden Bell Award-winning TV series Falling was released in 2013 and aired by the Public Television Service. It is a short series (six episodes) marketed as an idol drama; however, it stands out from this genre by a different narrative structure, role types and relations. It is not centered around the building of a relationship between the typical superior man (by looks and material assets) and a less-than-perfect woman (in terms of looks and typically feminine character traits), with an interfering female character possessing the traits which the protagonist lacks. It plays with this formula as it has three protagonists placed in a similar pattern of interaction, but instead of love relationships the series focuses on a growing-up process of searching for and negotiating subjectivity both by the female protagonists, and by the male one. This process takes place within a network of changing power relations in which both main and secondary characters are involved, while the primary epistemological method is gazing, an activity in which (interestingly enough) the viewer is also engaged.

My presentation will first explore the extent to which Falling fits within its genre and at the way in which it depicts reality, and argue that while this series borrows certain elements from the idol drama convention, it also goes beyond the genre by the complexity of its characters and by a visual strategy of laying bare a flawed reality instead of depicting a smooth and coherent, Hollywood-style diegetic illusion of glamorous modernity. Next, I will focus on the issue of power. Although it does not reflect or advocate radical social changes, Falling depicts many instances of having and not having power, actual and illusory power, and power relations, thus assessing the roles and expectations Confucian families construct for people of both genders. I will engage with the feminist potential of this series and argue that Falling encourages reflection on the dialectics between Confucian tradition, individualism and modernity. It depicts a process of negotiating a path for women not by rejecting the Confucian family, but by carefully considering the possibilities available inside it. Finally, I will argue that Falling constantly challenges the viewer by its very complex take on the idea of the gaze and laying bare various truths, inviting considerations on empowerment and the scope that the gaze may attain.

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