At 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 31, Beijing police announced the official detention of Chinese-Canadian pop star Kris Wu on rape allegations. This is the first time that such a high-profile celebrity in China has been accused of rape. Previous cases of sexual assault involving public figures, such as CCTV host Zhu Jun and JD Group founder Liu Qiangdong, have mostly not been resolved.
The news came as a victory for Chinese feminists, but for Wu’s own fans, this long-awaited result was too much to swallow.
As the days of the scandal fermented, Pandaily gathered feedback from Wu’s remaining supporters and crudely categorized their arguments into three categories: emotion-appealing ones, conspiratorialists, and so-called “RONs,” that is. that is, those who claim to be rational, objective and neutral.
To a large extent, these arguments, especially the latter two categories, go beyond the blind support of mad fans for their beloved idol, but represent some of the recurring voices against the Chinese feminist movement in general.
Fans motivated by emotion
This group represents Wu’s most loyal fan base, many of whom have expressed feelings of grief and confusion as the image of a supposedly devoted and respectful man to women has crumbled.
” I do not believe it. I’ve been her fan for nine years. I only trust his own words. I don’t understand why he would do such things.
“It’s so sad that someone [Wu] who would help his mother with the housework, who learned to drive just to help his mother, who loves his mother and respects women, has been demonized as someone completely opposed.
“No one is perfect. You have to allow him to make mistakes… he will become a better person after these setbacks.
Others seem to claim personal and eternal loyalty to herself.
“I love him no matter what.”
“We, the fans, have not come to the height of his glory, and we will not abandon him in his most difficult times.”
“You [Wu] are not alone.
To outsiders, these fans seem no better than brainwashed crowds who refuse to accept the truth. But for the fans themselves, that unwavering loyalty also comes from the real work they put into their expression of love for Wu.
A fan by the name of Zhang (@ 张 张 再 长 高 一点) has expressed her support for Kris Wu by hosting charity events on his behalf. She has been active in an organization called “Kris Wu Dream Walking Group”, a charity group created by and made up of Wu fans to help people achieve their dreams. The group has organized more than 100 charity events over the past four years, also present during the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan.
Zhang participated in three of the group’s events, each of which produced a “pleasant, fulfilling and proud” memory, according to his own Weibo account. At the end of July, when central China’s Henan Province was hit by an unprecedented flood and when the Wu scandal sparked public anger for the first time on social media, Zhang collected donations. of fans, bought instant noodles, bottled water and sanitary napkins, rented two trucks and sent them to the flood-stricken city of Zhengzhou.
The trucks arrived in front of a hospital. Zhang put up banners that read “Kris Wu Fan Donation” and waited for hospital staff to accept help. As she waited, two girls walked past laughing, “Is this a joke?” Why is he still donating now? A nurse at the hospital said, “Can you remove the banner? It’s so ugly.
On WeChat, Zhang shouted at her friend – also a Kris Wu fan – “People here keep saying Wu will be banned soon.” They said he shouldn’t send donations here… I can’t take any more. Depressed by the ridicule of passers-by, Zhang eventually removed the banner with Wu’s name, although fan supplies were still donated.
Another member of the charity group shared a conversation in which her friend, knowing she was heartbroken over the Wu scandal, tried to comfort her. “You’ve become a better person over the years thanks to Kris Wu. You’ve done a lot of charity work and made a lot of friends along the way… Even if you’re no longer her fan, you have when even had those happy years.
After Wu’s arrest, Sina Weibo deleted his social media account Sunday, as well as his Super Topic community, where fans usually meet virtually. The official account of the “Kris Wu Dream Walking Group” was deleted the same day.
Besides the emotional ones, there is also a strong tendency among Kris Wu’s supporters to victimize him by inventing plots. In such tales, Wu is either a sacrifice of the fierce competition in China’s entertainment industry, or an overly nice boy cheated and used by mean women.
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The first plot that sees Wu as a victim of his own industry stems from a key part of Chinese fan culture: “data logic is everything.” Chinese scholar Yin Yiyi argues that the defining characteristic of online fandom in China today is its obsession with the “traffic data” that celebrities can attract, which will determine their popularity and ultimately , their commercial value in the entertainment industry. With this logic, fans come together to create more data traffic for their idols through activities such as collective voting and trolling, and in doing so, they become a very exclusive community. In most cases, fan communities are not only exclusive but also hostile to each other, as everyone is a potential competitor who can damage the fame and business value of their own idols.
It is therefore easy to understand that as brands cut ties with Kris Wu, some fans are convinced the scandal was plotted by Wu’s green-eyed competitors. “Some industry losers are just jealous of Kris’s superior business value, and they see Kris as the arch-nemesis. one fan wrote bitterly.
The second narrative – which also emphasizes Wu’s victimization – takes up a common argument present in most other episodes of the Chinese #MeToo movement: Women are to blame.
“Du has such a powerful team behind her. Wouldn’t you have nightmares when you defame an innocent person like that? This Weibo post accused Du Meizhu, the first woman in her 20s to make public allegations against Wu, of fabricating rumors. The post garnered 1.4 thousand likes.
Here, Wu is victimized as someone put together by a woman and the “mighty team” behind her. According to this theory, by exposing the details of his sexual assault by Kris Wu, Du, a social media influencer, was trying to gain public attention and turn it into profit at the cost of Wu’s reputation.
In one of his early posts, Du referred to Wu’s sexual incompetence as a “toothpick,” which was quickly picked up by netizens and turned into memes and jokes that went viral on the Internet. social networks. This in turn became another piece of evidence to support the conspiracy theory that Du sought to destroy Kris Wu. According to his fans, Wu suffered “the greatest cyberviolence ever seen on the Chinese Internet” after Du’s defamation. of the superstar’s sexual prowess.
In the public debate around the Kris Wu scandal, there is another group, the RONs, or those who claim to have taken a rational, objective and neutral position in the debate.
The most common arguments used by RONs are “Let’s wait for the outcome of the authority’s investigation” and “There is no concrete evidence that Wu raped her”, finally “Public opinion cannot. bypass the judicial system ”.
This type of supporter isn’t limited to Kris Wu fans; perhaps most notably, many of the RONs tend to be males. On Zhihu, a Chinese question-and-answer website, someone posted the question “Why are there so many people supporting Kris Wu? The main responses appeal overwhelmingly to “evidence” and the legal system, with some caveats against the tyranny of feminism.
“It’s not about supporting anyone. Du Meizhu accuses Wu of raping her. The justice system will do her justice if she has evidence. But if there is no proof, no one has the right to judge Wu.
“I don’t support Kris Wu, but I’m definitely against Du Meizhu… Yes, her accusations against Wu may have been correct, but she couldn’t provide any evidence… She can use it to target any man. in the world, and it would work.
“I am not supporting anyone. The only thing I support is the law… Now there is a really bad trend, where women can easily win public opinion, and they now have a voice in the internet space. They are starting to use this right to speak for profit, and some are even trying to bypass authority, to organize trials on the Internet.
“Today, if we have a public event involving a man and a woman, women will always come out first to get hold of the moral. For them, it is not important to decide who is right and who is wrong, the most important is to push public opinion in a direction which is favorable to them… If anyone dares to suggest “the facts are not yet clear, wait for the result ”, they will certainly be hunted down by these crazy feminists.
Arguments like these were still valid even after Wu’s detention on Saturday, with the RONs insisting that while Wu perhaps deserves what happened, that doesn’t mean Du Meizhu, and his supporters in general. , had the privilege of carrying out what they consider cyberbullying on a man without concrete evidence in the name of “girls help girls”.
However, for Chinese feminists, this “bad trend” that Wu supporters harshly reject represents an uplifting episode of the #MeToo movement in China. In his recent item Regarding Kris Wu, feminist Lü Pin points out that the level of public support Du Meizhu received was unthinkable just five years ago, when a woman who said she had been emotionally abused and manipulated by Kris Wu spoke out, but was quickly silenced amid a chorus of shameful internet curses. In that sense, this event is a manifestation of the progress Chinese feminists have made over the years in courageously stepping forward to expose male abusers.
For authorities, however, the point of argument may not lie in whether or not Wu’s detention marks feminist success, but in a wild entertainment industry that needs some regulation. Kris Wu’s high-profile sanction is unprecedented in the history of the Chinese government’s dealings with tarnished pop stars. To date, all social media accounts linked to Kris Wu have been deleted, along with the dismissal of nearly 800 fan groups and the blocking of 108 Super Topic communities with “misleading content.” On Tuesday, the Chinese Cyberspace Administration announced that in the latest campaign targeting “unhealthy fan culture” it had cleaned up more than 150,000 “harmful messages” and closed more than 1,300 “problematic groups”.