‘Foxi’ fandom rises above clickbait

By Ke Rensi Source:Global Times Published: 2018/2/12 14:18:39

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT

Among all the "foxi" buzzwords that have swept social media in recent months, I am most fond of "foxi zhuixing." Literally translated as buddhist-sect fandom, it means rooting for one's beloved artists without engaging in nasty online debates with those who don't share the same passion.

I've been an entertainment news junkie since I learned to read, and all the time I have spent reading has helped me become a better writer and designer. Then, social media cranked it up a notch. I'm connected with people of my ilk and those who are not.

Three years ago, Hong Kong artist Wallace Chung became my latest idol. I set up a new Weibo account solely for "fangirling" purposes. The Weibo account opened my mind to fans that don't just drool over the pictures and videos of their idols but actively seek to convert non-fans and lambast haters.

In an age when stardom is largely gauged by how much web traffic a celebrity generates, overprotective fans feel obliged to do some marketing and promotions to improve the online presence of their favorite stars, and it also gives an ego boost to those fans.

Foxi fans, however, refuse to contribute to the frenzy over web traffic. They don't impose their passions on others, nor do they care about the censorious reviews of their idols' works on Douban.com, a site where users can upload content about entertainment in China, because they are confident in their own tastes and judgment. 

Foxi fandom threw cold water on the entertainment industry's heavy reliance on numbers to make business and artistic decisions. Quantitative measurement has driven stars to pander to the lowest common denominator. Television host Chen Luyu confessed that when she opted for ratings, she often had to put the caliber of her talk shows in jeopardy. To look "popular," Shanghai stars Xue Zhiqian and Fu Yandong purchased fake Weibo accounts, but it is unfair to blame only the artists for such unhealthy competition.

As more fans withdraw from voluntary click farming, they can invest time in developing a more sustainable relationship with their idols. My fangirling over Chung started when I saw a 2012 online interview where he raved about his fans' elegant writing in their comments under his carefully-crafted Weibo posts. His emphasis on "mutual learning" set the tone for my three-year obsession. I translated his quotes and songs into English for overseas fans. It's been the least painful way to hone my English skills.

I believe Chung also benefited from the fans' thoughtful analyses of his works. When his costume drama General and I (2017) aired, some fans wrote episode-by-episode reviews critiquing the storyline, characterization and acting. Others put their graphic design and video editing skills to good use by creating fan art based on his character in the drama. Over the past decade, Chung must have worked hard on his craft to stand the test of the fans' frame-by-frame scrutiny.

Foxi fans may fall for an idol's appearance at first, but they stick around because of his or her talents and character. They encourage stars to give back to society and disseminate positive energy.

They also push celebrities to take on more social responsibilities to balance out the hefty paychecks they walk away with.

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.



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