Like Manbo nülang (Mambo Girl ), the 1969 youth film Feinü zhengzhuan (Teddy
Girls) begins with an energetic scene of musical revelry. Boys and girls crowd
together on a dance floor beneath a glittering disco ball, moving in time with
a driving rock beat. Joyful hoots and yelps mingle with the howl of an electric
guitar and punctuate the beat at irregular intervals. The camera plunges into
the scene in medias res and weaves erratically among the bobbing and shak-
ing bodies, as if infected by the kinetic propulsion of the music. It singles out
two young women clad in minidresses who are dancing together with evident
glee. They throw their arms around, careen their hips this way and that, swim-
ming and twisting. A tight close-up on one of them reveals the face of the teen
idol Josephine Siao (Sia Fong- fong), masked partially by her long locks as she
wildly tosses her head. Immersed in the music, the two friends are oblivious to
the aggressive lecherous stares of a trio of men sitting at a table nearby. Thus
the scene reprises a scenario of sexual objectification familiar from so many
songstress films. The three men rise from their seats with a menacing manner
and make their way toward the dance floor. We see a medium close-up of Siao’s
friend from behind at hip level, and a hand enters into the frame to paw at her
derriere. She screams and Siao comes to her defense, slapping the offender
full in the face. When he responds by grabbing Siao and forcing a kiss on her,
she fights back, and the altercation ends when she breaks a glass bottle over
his head and he drops to the floor in pain. This is abruptly followed by a cut
to a courtroom scene, where Siao is sentenced to incarceration in a juvenile
detention center.
Comparing this opening scene to that of Mambo Girl, we can track the twelve
years separating the two films by means of musical styles. The jazzy big band
tunes of the 1950s have been drowned out by the amplifier- enhanced sounds
of rock and roll, and Grace Chang’s carefully choreographed mambo moves
replaced by Siao’s writhing go-go dance. The orderly, precise orchestration
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