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The construction of a media persona

The fact of performing as a tragic persona did not necessarily lead Ruan Lingyu to suicide; however, we must take seriously the impact this persona had on Ruan Lingyu’s private life. Another aspect that needs to be explored is how the Lianhua Company built Ruan Lingyu’s public persona and how this media persona interact both with the picture persona and the real woman.

The Lianhua Film Company had a real policy about how to advertise its movie star (see, on that topic, Anne Kerlan-Stephens « The making of modern icons: three actresses of the Lianhua Film Company », European Journal of East Asian Studies 6.1 (2007) and all the Visual Itineraries about Wang Renmei, Li Lili and Chen Yanyan on the website Common People and Artist). In fact, the Company was founded with a very clear goal: the revival of national cinema. It meant an economical revival but also a cultural revival. Films had to become agent of education, support for the spreading of a national culture both modern and respectful of China traditional values. In this regard, actors and actresses had to be highly respected as professional dedicated to the development of the national industry and promoters of a national identity. This was at least the goal but Lianhua had to do with what she had. In the case of Ruan Lingyu, she had to do with a talented young woman whose private life was far from being morally acceptable. The building of her movie persona and, parallel to it, the diffusion of Ruan Lingyu’s media image, can be seen not only as a recipe for success but also as a strategy to hide a private life too discordant with the Company’s moral values.

In the following visual narrative, I chose photos that are most representative of the building of Ruan Lingyu media image in the Lianhua magazine. Photos and their caption show how different images of the actress were presented to the public. These photos are organized along several themes.

Viusal narrative

Last update Sunday 6 June 2010 by G. Foliot