BL works get more popular among Chinese netizens but also bring controversy

By Ji Yuqiao Published: 2020/4/1 0:10:12

Photo: Screenshot of Weibo

Works including fiction, TV dramas and films themed on boys' love have a growing fan base among Chinese netizens, which has been proved by hit dramas like The Untamed and the popularity of Thailand's BL TV series. Thanks to women having more power in entertainment, the subculture has become more sought-after in China.

But at the same time, the subculture has sparked controversy among the LGBT community, which says it plays to stereotypes of the group.

Lots of Chinese netizens got excited on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo on Monday by a post that said a Chinese web drama Addicted released in 2016 might be re-released soon. The related hashtag has been viewed more than 660 million times as of press time and rushed to the top of the trending chart.

The web drama about a romantic relationship between two men since their high school days got hundreds of millions of views and was a hot topic on social media when it premiered online.

The post is a screenshot of a Chinese video platform, showing that Addicted was included on the list of upcoming releases.

Many netizens denied this news and condemned it as rumor, saying that the web drama was included on the waiting list years ago, but has never been broadcast. Despite their denials, however, lots of netizens discussed the show.

Fans of the web drama missed their binge-watching time and recalled the show's plots on Weibo. "It was the first BL drama I watched, and it drew me into this fantastic world. Now I am really addicted to BL themed works," a fan of the drama who asked for anonymity told the Global Times on Tuesday.

She added that after Addicted, she has not missed any related high-quality works including fictions, TV series and animations. "Like The Untamed and Tharntype: The Series, I collect BL themed works from a variety of countries, as long as their plots and characters interest me. You will find the subculture has an endless charm if you explore it more," she said.

The fan represents a huge number of Chinese followers who have been drawn to BL culture's characteristics.

"Reasons why these works on BL attract netizens is because of their stories about true love and pure love that can touch audiences, and more importantly, the audience's curiosity," Shi Wenxue, a cultural critic and teacher of the Beijing Film Academy, told the Global Times.

Many of the subculture's fans are women. Shi said women now have more power in the entertainment industry and they want males in the industry to show more beauty and charm. A romantic story between two men can be addictive, so the industry produces more similar stories to please them.

But some BL stories have been condemned by the LGBT community which says they are based on stereotypes of their group as seen by others, such as men who fall in love with each other having to be good looking.

The LGBT group is encouraging more discussion about the subculture. The Beijing LGBT Center will host a debate on WeChat on April 5. The topic will be "Do BL works help people understand LGBT more or mislead people"?

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