Critical Fans: Weibo Superstar Xie Na Under Attack By Her Own Supporters

Chinese idol fans are often known for their unwavering loyalty army-like bearing, especially when defending their messiah from haters. However, as recent cases involving boyband Nine Percent and host Xie Na show, this vitriol might be turned against the celebrities themselves should their engagement with these online legions be lukewarm.

Are the fans there to serve their idol, or the other way round? Fanatical fandom that takes idol-worshipping to extreme heights is nothing new on the Chinese Internet. What is unusual is when the idols themselves get checked by their own fans for inappropriate behavior.

For a couple of days now, host of Happy Camp, actress and no. 1 star Weibo superstar Xie Na (谢娜) has come under attack from her fans for her performance in Chinese hit reality show Viva La Romance (妻子浪漫旅行), where four famous couples go on holiday together. According to Xie Na’s fans, she mentioned her husband, famous singer Jason (张杰), too often during the show despite several warnings from fans in the past to keep her affection under wraps.

To cool down the bubbling dissatisfaction among her fanbase, Xie Na engaged her fans in a Weibo discussion. She soon regretted this decision as the diplomatic initiative blew up in her face when she refused to acknowledge any wrong or listen to her fans’ suggestions. After being continually criticized by her fans, she made it clear how vexing this all was, posting comments such as: “Oh, so this is what prattling on Weibo is like,” “[This is] prattling, I’m out”, and “There is so much resentment, why can’t everybody be happy?”.

This is where it all went really downhill. Xie Na’s intransigence led to a fan walk-out. In a statement on Weibo, a spokesperson for the official Xie Na Weibo fan group announced that it had been handed over to Xie Na’s management. In that same statement, the spokesperson explains: “(Xie Na), you entered the discussion on Weibo where people are giving you no more than 15 suggestions, of which only some were regarding your husband […]. We only try to help you, it is up to you whether you listen or not, but instead, you just write us off by saying we are resentful.”

In reaction to the commotion, Jason posted a lengthy statement on Weibo explaining that the director of Viva La Romance required Xie Na to talk about her husband; after all, the program is all about married couples. He also added that a few days of filming gets edited into a one-hour episode and what does and does not get aired is not Xie Na’s decision, suggesting that the critical fans’ view was somehow skewed.

Picture of Jason and Xie Na, uploaded together with Jason’s statement on Weibo.

Fellow celebrities and co-stars from Viva La Romance, Ying Caier (应采儿), Ying’er (颖儿) and Cheng Lisha (程莉莎) spoke out in defense of Xie Na. In a post on Weibo, Ying Caier wrote: “If we are not to talk about our own husbands, then whose husband are we supposed to talk about? Isn’t the show called Viva La Romance?”. (Note that the English title of the program is not a literal interpretation of the Chinese title which is: “The Wife’s Romantical Holiday”).

The dispute got much attention on Weibo. Both the hashtags “Jason backs Xie Na,” and “Xie Na gets hatred by fans in a discussion about herself” racked up 590 million and 530 million views on Weibo within the first 24 hours.

Xie Na is not the first star to be confronted with disapproving fans. November last year, some fans decided to engage in fantasy “couple pairing” of the popular boyband NINE PERCENT (百分九少年), igniting the anger of both the boyband and other fans by shouting slogans that two members of the boyband, Kun (蔡徐坤) and Wang Ziyi (王子异) were “married.”

 

 

In a short clip that went viral on social media, a dozen fans hold up posters and shout: “Yi (Wang Ziyi) and Kun are real, they are married!” (异坤是真的,异坤结婚了). At the time, the hashtag “Kun and Wang Ziyi couple pairing fans shout slogan” got over 120 million views with many people discussing how far fans meddling in the life of their idols should go.

In some Weibo reactions, many fans showed their support for the two superstars, writing: “Leave them (Kun and Wang Ziyi) alone!”, many others condemned the fans that started the incident by saying: “Is this what you call being a fan?” and “You must be ashamed of yourselves!”

Quickly after the video incident, Kun uploaded a picture on his Instagram account of an empty circle drawn against a white background, with the comment: “My attitude towards the matter is like the picture, I have no words and there is nothing I can do”.

This disinterested approach seemed to have worked, as the clash between the Nine Percent fans soon blew over; perhaps that same approach would have worked for Xie Na as well, who has not yet reacted to her official fan group’s walk-out.

By Gabi Verberg, edited by Eduardo Baptista

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