Donnie Yen's star persona in amateur-produced videos on YouTube

  • Dorothy Lau Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong
Keywords: Chineseness, Cocreative, Fan engagement, Professional, Star Wars, Stardom

Abstract

Amateur-produced, web-based videos have become an emergent locus of emulating, multiplying, and reinventing the appeal of martial arts stars, which was once a product of professionals of industrial mechanism. The constellation of user-generated practices on platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, Wikipedia, and Facebook that depend on amateur content has become a vital force driving popular construction that blurs the line between the professional and the amateur. Celebrated transnational Chinese actor Donnie Yen, who has gained huge fame thanks to his work in martial arts hits, was cast in the Star Wars feature Rogue One (2016). An analysis of two videos on YouTube that (re)narrativize Yen's persona in Rogue One shows how video makers working outside the film industry open up new aspects of articulating and understanding the star. Amateur video producers unsettle Yen's status, which is principally anchored on his martial authenticity and acrobatic skills, by either mixing the active body with other generic components like sci-fi or virtualizing the warrior figure in other media contexts, such as video games and virtual reality. The outcome is a composite, multidirectional intertext that engenders novel dimensions of a star text, negotiating and refashioning the martial arts personality. Digital creative texts have discursive power that changes and challenges the industrial structure of cultural production in a volatile media environment.

Published
2018-09-15