Globalization as Coping Mechanisms for the Changing City: Contemporary Hong Kong Films
This paper proposes that contemporary Hong Kong films make use of globalization to cope with the political, social and economic changes the city has gone through rapidly in the last two decades or so. These changes arise from a complex of factors such as the Handover of sovereignty from the British Colonial Government to the People's Republic of China on July 1, 1997, the Asian Financial Crisis in 1998, the migration of the citizens to Mainland China for work and business and vice versa, and the need to construct a new Hong Kong identity taking into account the end of colonialism and new calls for Chinese nationalism. The main tactic suggested by the films is to engage the global to placate the local challenges, elevating the local concerns to the global level or bringing global concerns to the everyday lives of ordinary citizens. Through the negotiations between the global and the local, the films show ordinary citizens attempting to situate and anchor themselves within the flux of the rapidly changing city. By dexterously moving between the local and the global, making use of the tools provided by globalization such as communication, networking, transnational migrations, or economic integration, the protagonists try to fulfil obligations and grasp opportunities brought by the new political, social, economic and cultural situations. The films show how ordinary Hong Kong people in everyday life seek atonement between the cosmopolitan and the national, condoning the sometimes rampant capitalism and materialism in the city, and find redemption in a new Hong Kong identity situated both within the national and global without giving up local characteristics. At the same time, the films show a global city at work, being able to accommodate diversity and thrive through the exchange of differences without neglecting the obligation to be part of the national.
Keywords: Globalization, Film, Hong Kong, City, Culture, Contemporary, Coping Mechanisms, Change, Identity, Ethnicity
Dr. Kay Li
University of Toronto, Wilfrid Laurier University