文：Xavier Tam （紫荊聚集會員、香港大學比較文學系哲學碩士）
(The English version follows the Chinese one)
文化公民權（cultural citizenship）泛指一個地方的人民可以自由及平等地參與文化產業活動（cultural industry），即人民可以成為文化產業的創作者（producer）、文化再現（cultural representation）的主體（subject）和受眾（audience）。
Hear Me?! Deaf people also have cultural citizenship!
(Member of Hong Kong Bauhinias Deaf Club & MPhil in Comparative Literature, HKU)
Cultural citizenship generally refers to the freedom and equality of the citizens of a territory in participating in the cultural industry. In other words, citizens could be the producer, the subject of cultural representation as well as the audience of cultural industry.
Society is not made up by only one single group. Owing to many factors, different circles or groups are formed. Some of these circles or groups might become the mainstream of society while some become minority groups. Social minority groups are often excluded by the mainstream and fail to participate in the cultural industry (e.g. TV & film). Besides, the characters related to social minority groups in mainstream TV programs and films usually fall into either stereotypes or supporting roles.
As minority, the Deaf culture has long been neglected by the sound-dominating mainstream audio-visual culture. Hence many people think that Deaf people do not have their own film culture. Many people even believe that the subtitling in mainstream films could satisfy the needs of the Deaf audience. It is a misunderstanding, indeed. What the “Deaf Cinema” concerns is the community culture of the Deaf. The subtitling in mainstream films is expediential and does not concern the issue of cultural belongingness of the Deaf seriously.
In Chinese societies, the topic of “Deaf Cinema” is never closely examined. In 2009, the 21st Summer Deaflympics was held in Taipei City. To celebrate the Deaflympics, the Department of Cultural Affairs of the Taipei City Government funded Fen-fen Cheng for making the film Hear Me. The major plot of Hear Me tells the love story between Tian-kuo (Eddy Pang) and Yang-yang (Ivy Chen) while the subordinate plot shows us the ups and downs of Yang-yang’s elder sister Xiao-peng (Michelle Chen) in the swimming team for the Deaf. When the delivery boy Tian-kuo delivers lunchbox to Xiao-peng’s Deaf swimming team, he encounters Yang-yang who is helping Xiao-peng. So, Tian-kuo mistakes Yang-yang as a hearing-impaired girl. Knowing that their beloved son is in love with a person who can’t hear, Tian-Kuo’s parents are rather uneasy. When Yang-yang, who is mistakenly thought to be a Deaf girl, starts to talk, Tian-kuo’s parents are relieved.
Although we could observe the extensive use of sign language in the film, Hear Me could not be fully recognized as a Deaf film which allows Deaf people’s full exercise of cultural citizenship. Firstly, Deaf people did not participate in the crew of the film. Secondly, even though Hear Me is about Deaf people, the protagonists are Tian-kuo and Yang-yang, but not Xiao-peng. Thirdly, Tian-kuo’s parents are very happy when they realize that Yang-yang is not hearing-impaired.These features show that Hear Me is a film colored with Audism.
As a film featuring Deaf characters and extensive use of sign language in the dialogues, Hear Me serves as the first successful attempt in bringing the visibility of Deaf people into the mainstream Chinese film market. However, we could not simply praise the Audist film Hear Me as a Deaf film, which concerns the Deaf culture and community.
The First International Deaf Film Festival is coming soon. To the Deaf community in Hong Kong, the Film Festival is a jovial occasion. The Film Festival provides a platform for Deaf people becoming producers, protagonists and audiences of cultural industry. In Hong Kong, gay and lesbian people have their own Gay and Lesbian Film Festival; in Taiwan, female audiences have their own Women’s Film Festival. Deaf people could have the Deaf Film Festival and the Deaf Cinema about the Deaf community culture. In the world of Chinese cinema, the Deaf Cinema finally acts now.
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