In a bizarre series of developments that show just how out of wack our world is becoming, multiple teachers across China have been fired after viral reports that they were using students to live out their fandoms for stars like Xiao Zhan and the TFBoys‘ Wang Junkai.
For Xiao Zhan, the news must have been upsetting. Xiao Zhan’s career has been plagued by controversy ever since his overzealous fans launched reports against major fanfiction platform Archive of Our Own, or AO3, ultimately causing the site to be blocked in China.
AO3 Sean Xiao Drama Sparks High-Stakes War in Boys’ Love Fandom
That blowup drew so much flack from every other fandom, that Xiao Zhan was forced to apologize for the extreme actions of his fans. So he was probably frustrated to see a TikTok video going viral which featured a classroom of students being led to chant “Xiao Zhan, you are good. We like you. Let’s go!”
The video, which also featured the students dancing to one of Xiao Zhan’s songs, was taken by a teacher in the city of Suqian. She was fired after the post blew up, but this is far from an isolated incident — after the news broke out, a teacher in Shandong province played one of Xiao’s songs in a class livestream and asked a student to leave the stream when they objected.
“Please focus on your study, work, and life,” Xiao Zhan responded on Weibo. “I do not need support.”
The post comes shortly Xiao’s co-star in hit drama The Untamed, Wang Yibo pushed back against stalker fans who had gone as far as installing tracker technology on his car.
With idol-crazy teachers in the public eye, people began to scrutinize the presence of fandom in the classrooms. Another video from 2017 resurfaced and drew further criticism, showing a kindergarten teacher instructing a group of students to say that TFBoys member Wang Junkai is handsome, and that she is his girlfriend.
People online found it unacceptable (and not just because Jackson Yee is clearly the most handsome TFBoy); ordinary citizens and cultural institutions alike spoke out against the trend of fandom in the classroom.
“Idol chasing must be sensible, or else it’s harmful to others,” reads one top rated comment.
“Looking back at history, cultural work during a dynasty’s peak is majestic and grand, while demoralizing music was composed when a dynasty began to descend,” wrote the Chinese Academy of History, alluding to the Xiao Zhan cases in a Weibo post that garnered nearly 2 million likes. “Leading young students to support celebrities publicly in classroom…it is the alarm bell for a golden era.”
Idol Hands: How China’s Super Fan Groups Make and Break Stars Via the Multi-Million Dollar “Fan Economy”
We highlight our top stories each week in an email newsletter that goes out every Monday - hot, fresh, and straight to your inbox.
Don't worry, we don't spam