Over 200 celebrity fan clubs and entertainment companies have published written proposals online, suggesting measures to temper China’s “chaotic” idol industry. Fans were responding to the Cyberspace Administration of China’s “Clear and Bright” campaign, which aims to combat illegal activity online, explicitly including the support of celebrity idols.
The proposals were posted on Weibo, and seemed to garner much support from fans (though it is unclear how much of that support is merely lip service intended to prevent further crackdowns on the entertainment industry). The guidelines touch on points like cyberbullying, celebrities’ right to privacy, and proper ways to support idols.
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Fans seem to have recognized that the community has been a tad extreme at times. “The Chinese fan community has been thrown into chaos by everyone trying to compete against each other,” said a fan of Wang Yibo. “Strict regulation is needed.”
Just weeks ago, the hit reality TV competition Youth With You 3 was cancelled days before the grand finale. Fans were left crying over spilled milk — in order to scan promotional QR codes for extra votes, fans had bought up crates of milk from the show’s sponsor, dumping the contents afterwards. Government officials, who have been cracking down on food waste, were not happy.
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Online fighting between celebrity fan bases has become increasingly common in China, with fans often going to extreme measures to defend their idols. That support can go wrong, and fans have been known to hurt the idols they love.
In March 2020, Xiao Zhan, one of China’s biggest heartthrobs and star of the hit drama The Untamed, had to shoulder the consequences of his fans’ protection. In response to a steamy fanfiction about their idol posted on the website AO3, Xiao Zhan’s unhappy fans launched a spiteful attack which resulted in the website being shut down in China.
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As the actions of a few fans killed one of China’s largest online hubs for boys’ love fanfiction, the backlash against Xiao Zhan’s fanbase was immense. Xiao Zhan’s management eventually had to step in to help diffuse the situation, but not before the actors’ fans were deemed the “worst fans” of any idol, costing Xiao Zhan numerous brand sponsorship deals.
Wang Yibo, Xiao Zhan’s co-star, has also opened up about the harsh realities of dealing with fans. He appealed to audiences in May of last year to please keep their distance, saying, “for a long time now, I have had strangers knocking on my hotel room door. Someone even placed a location tracker in my car. No matter where I go, there’s always someone following me.”
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Cover image via PxHere
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