Fans should be more tolerant of fan works featuring boys’ love

By Wu Yu Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/1 13:08:41

Chinese actors Wang Yibo(left) and Xiao Zhan

Some fans of Chinese actor Xiao Zhan went on the attack against works of fan fiction about the character the star played in the hit TV drama The Untamed recently because they felt the work stained their idol's reputation. 

The move has sparked debate about the role of fan works, referring to fan-made artwork such as comics, stories or videos based on an existing IP, in China, with some saying that these works should be abolished. 

However, these people fail to realize that fan works are an important part of fan culture and fans' unique way to show love for their idols. 

One of the more popular types of fan works is fiction inspired by the interactions between two actors in TV shows, such as the "offending" fan works that paired Xiao with his fellow actor Wang Yibo.  

In 2019, both of these young stars gained a huge number of fans after the release of the hit summer period fantasy drama, an adaptation of an online novel in the popular boys' love genre. 

Fans fell in love with the chemistry between the two main characters, both in the original work and as portrayed by the two actors on the small screen. 

Numerous fan works such as stories and videos about the two actors have been created by fans of the couple and uploaded onto online platforms including video platform Bilibili and The Organization for Transformative Works, a non-profit organization run by and for fans to provide access to and preserve the history of fan works and fan culture.

Some of Xiao's fans thought that these fan works featuring the two men in love was disrespectful to their idol and may lead others to misconstrue that the straight actor is gay, so they reported these works. 

Their behavior, however, enraged other Chinese netizens, who criticized these fans for being too narrow-minded and short-sighted.

"I can understand they want Xiao to further his career in the entertainment industry, but I am also his fan and I love to read as well as watch these fan works. These two things are not incompatible," a Chinese fan of Xiao who asked to remain anonymous told the Global Times on Sunday.

"Reading boys' love fiction does not mean I believe he loves men in real life. Fan works will not impact him and I oppose the decision to report these stories," she said. 

"All fans have the right to create fan works and admire these types of works."

The fan noted that she has also seen fan works featuring romances between the famous characters of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson from the hit UK series Sherlock, "but Benedict Cumberbatch, a great actor, has still been able to play diverse characters. These works have not changed anything."

Although not all fans like writing stories about their idols and following stars through the creation of other derivative art works, all fans should be tolerant of lawful fan works and allow different voices and ideas to grow as this will allow fan culture to grow more diverse.


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