Being an international “little fresh meat” sensation like Xiao Zhan can’t be easy. Recently, the actor and boyband member has been involved in nonstop controversies involving his rabid fanbase, which in March managed to get an entire fanfiction site shut down over a homoerotic story which featured their idol. Now, the star’s management team is the latest to apologize after yet another Xiao Zhan scandal.
Xiao Zhan’s team posted a lengthy statement on Weibo yesterday to atone for its “negligence and absence of fan management.” Things had been settling down, when a new incident broke out involving a supposed Xiao Zhan fan who claimed to be posting from the account of a dead person.
The situation attracted so much attention that Weibo was forced to launch its own investigation. It turned out there was no dead person — the user had been lying and operating three accounts for the sake of attention. But by now the situation had become so dire that Weibo chose to address its concerns directly with Xiao Zhan’s team.
Weibo’s direct contact on the matter isn’t coming from nowhere — China’s internet regulator had already launched a two-month long campaign aiming to curb unhealthy idol worship among minors. The “Clear & Bright” campaign sets its sights on minors engaged in violent or pornographic content, inappropriate cartoons, and “worshipping idols without a bottom line.”
The team’s apology reads, “Today, the Weibo community pointed out many problems that Xiao Zhan Studio currently has, and mentioned the adverse effects caused by these problems.”
The AO3 shutdown in March prompted some netizens to call for a boycott of Xiao Zhan’s products, and brands like Budweiser and Olay dropped their endorsements as a result. And in April, his single “Light Source” became the first digital record in China’s history to make over 100 million RMB (14 million USD), prompting some to speculate that his fans had played a part in artificially boosting sales.
His team also said, “Xiao Zhan Studio is well aware of its responsibilities and obligations. We are anxious, troubled, and even angry for everyone this time. We apologize once again. We will use a positive attitude to guide fans, curb hate behavior, and maintain proper distribution within the community and the Internet.”
And while Xiao Zhan has issued multiple public apologies on behalf of his fans, this is also not the first time his management team has apologized. Following the the AO3 scandal in March, his team apologized for “taking up social public resources and causing confusion for everyone.”
All these scandals spark the question, what constitutes a healthy idol-fan relationship? And when does it develop from genuine appreciation to unhealthy devotion? Unfortunately for Xiao Zhan, it appears that his fans are set on doing more harm than good.
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