Counterpublic but obedient: a case of Taiwan's BL fandom
ABSTRACT BL (Boys’ Love) fandom has been regarded as a counterpublic by some academics since 2005. In this article, I investigate the dispute over “real-person” texts (texts based not on fictional characters but on real people, both public and non-public figures) on the BL board of PTT BBS in Taiwan as a case-study. The dispute is significant in the sense that, ostensibly, there were a few young female BL fans who actively defined what the BL scene consists of, as only these young women were involved in the dispute. Nevertheless, a closer look at the dispute reveals that the mainstream values actually played a significant role in framing the fandom in question. I then argue that the objection to the real-person texts should be regarded as a refusal by the BL fandom to be part of a counterpublic. The dispute started with a clarification of the genre, equating real-person with real gay people, BL with fantasy, and gay with reality. It is on this basis that real-person texts were not regarded as part of BL practices. Moral issues, such as respect and politeness, were also raised to question real-person texts. The conflict intensified, leading finally to the total exclusion of real-person texts from the BL board. To sum up, the dispute over real-person texts demonstrates how BL fans actively (re)formed the shape of the BL board; at the same time, it represents a refusal and exclusions, which place this counterpublic into question.
Keywords: BL andom, counterpublic, Fujoshi, cultural practices; PTT BBS
Note on the contributor
Feichi Chiang is an independent researcher in Taiwan. Her current research deals with cultural practices of young women, particularly young women who participate in popular cultures such as anime, comics and games, as well as gender politics in these practices.