Saturday, July 7, 2018

"China’s Underground Fanfiction Community is Snitching on Itself"

Though there have been sweeps of arrests for authors of homoerotic fanfiction in the past, the delicate alternative infrastructure for distributing tongren novels has been relatively unperturbed by authorities for years. Recently, however, this has started to change — not because of tightening restrictions from Beijing, for once, but rather due to interpersonal feuds within the community.

In 2017, a 26 year old graduate student with over 100,000 Weibo followers was arrested for “illegally selling published works” on Taobao. According to the letter of the law, which scales punishment based on sales volume, the 150,000 RMB pre-sales of her unauthorized tongren novels were enough to land her in jail for five years. Weibo posters were particularly shocked to learn that the arrest was triggered by a report to the Wuhan police by a fellow fanfiction writer who had been caught plagiarizing her work.


People are always saying “it’ll get better when our generation grows up.” I used to believe in this, and thought that it meant the generation after us would be more progressive, more respectful of the generation after it. But the older I get, the more I realize that history is repeating itself.