Fan-Fiction Site Blocked in China After Celeb’s Stans Complain

Fans of Chinese actor Xiao Zhan had mobilized to protest their idol being portrayed as a woman with a thing for teens on the popular content-hosting platform Archive of Our Own, leading to the site being blacklisted in China.

Credit: Sixth Tone)

A Hugo Award-winning fan-fiction website has been banned in China after a celebrity’s fans complained, en masse, about its alleged “poronographic content.”

Archive of Our Own (AO3), a popular platform for user-generated art and writing, was no longer accessible on the Chinese mainland Saturday. According to domestic media, AO3 was taken offline after fans of 28-year-old celebrity actor Xiao Zhan reported the website to the authorities after they became aware of a novel series published on the platform that portrayed their idol as a trans woman pursuing a romantic relationship with a male high school student.

Artist Zhibai’s rendering of Xiao Zhan’s female character in the web novel series “Xiazhui,” hosted on fan-fiction site Archive of Our Own. Sixth Tone

Created in 2008 by the Organization for Transformative Works, AO3 is a nonprofit open-source repository for fan fiction with a large and active Chinese community. In a statement Saturday night, OTW said it had received inquiries from users on the Chinese mainland who were no longer able to access the site.

“It seems to be due to a disconnection from the (telecom) supplier when the local networks attempt to connect to the overseas network,” the statement said. “We don’t know if this is due to a temporary, unplanned outage of supplier services or a long-term access restriction. Since the connection problem is not caused by the AO3 server, we have no way to resolve it.”

OTW also tweeted Sunday that “Unfortunately, the Archive of Our Own is currently inaccessible in China. We’ve investigated, and it is not due to anything on our end.”

The web novel series at the heart of the controversy — “Xiazhui” — is an unofficial spinoff of the popular Chinese drama “The Untamed,” starring Xiao and pop star Xiao Zhan. The drama was itself adapted from a queer online romance novel.

Despite the LGBT origins of “The Untamed,” the salacious storyline of its literary spinoff appears to have been too much for some to stomach. Last week, fans of the show organized an online campaign to protest the novel series and AO3, saying the stories had defamed their idol and asking people to report both the content and its hosting platform to China’s internet regulators.

The campaign and the ultimate blocking of the website on Saturday have outraged AO3 users as well as those who believe that the existence of writing and other creative content should not hinge on universal approval.

Many AO3 users announced they would boycott the actor, Xiao, demanding that brands endorsed by him cancel their agreements and leaving scathing reviews for Xiao’s shows on the IMDb-like platform Douban. Continue to read the full article here.


– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.