Incest tropes in danmei stories

Incest stories (including so-called selfcest) appear significantly in danmei circles. Recent research has highlighted some recurring motives in these stories.

In these fan-made webisodes, it is much more desirable for the new DFFB to experience love among the subcharacters (brothers and sisters), or to love herself, than love the so-called Zha Chong (the scumbag LHC).


EGRET, LULU ZHOU 2017. DONGFANG BUBAI, ONLINE FANDOM, AND THE GENDER POLITICS OF A LEGENDARY QUEER ICON IN POST-MAO CHINA=LAVIN, MAUD; YANG, LING; ZHAO, JING JAMIE 2017. BOY’S LOVE, COSPLAY AND ANDROGYNOUS IDOLS: QUEER FAN CULTURES IN MAINLAND CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN, HONG KONG UNIVERSITY PRESS, HKU, 122.

Even though the next article’s main topic is original BL fiction but given that the collection they examine contains original as well as transformative BL fiction, this analysis can add to our understanding of incest tropes in fanfiction.

Our examination of Chinese father-son stories, however, suggest that incest plots in BL concern not only lighthearted sexual fantasy but also imaginary compensation for the lack of pure love in parent-children relationships, as well as an implicit social critique of the authoritarian parenting/governing style.

Ling, Yang; Yanrui, Xu. 2013. Forbidden love: incest, generational conflict, and the erotics of power in Chinese BL fiction. Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, 4 (1): 33.

This early analysis seems to suggest that the erotic love, in this case, has the power to transgress the strict familiar roles an create a novel intimacy between the characters. (That the eroticism of love is allegorical or not is up to interpretation.)

Do danmei incest stories you have encountered seem to support this hypothesis? What’d your experience?

A network of early zine making communities

Fanzine publishing remains highly receptive to new participants. As Constance Penley (1991) notes, fanzine editors are torn between competing impulses toward “professionalism” (the development of high technical standards and the showcasing of remarkable accomplishments) and “acceptance” (openness and accessibility for new and inexperienced writers). Push comes to show, professionalization gives way to acceptance; even the most polished zines occasionally include work that falls outside their overall standards but represents the fledgling efforts of new fans.

Penley, Constance 1991. “Brownian Motion: Women, Tactics and Technology.” Edited by Constance Penley, Andrew Ross. Technoculture, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
HENRY JENKINS. 1992. TEXTUAL PROACHERS. NEW YORK: ROUTLEDGE, P 162

This same nurturing atmosphere extends to the development of new publications. Established publishers often publicize newer zines, running advertisements for them free of charge, inserting fliers in their mailings or printing them in their issues; established editors see these newer publications, not as competition but rather as welcome additions to the community.

HENRY JENKINS. 1992. TEXTUAL PROACHERS. NEW YORK: ROUTLEDGE, P 162

Early conventions in fanzines

(Academic’s writing on primary or even exclusive focus on Star Trek zines) reflects the important role of Trek fandom in developing conventions and setting the standard for media zine publishing (adopting them from older forms found in literary science fiction fandom).

HENRY JENKINS. 1992. TEXTUAL PROACHERS. NEW YORK: ROUTLEDGE, p 161

An example for this standard is the zine community’s commitment to provide spaces for readers as well as for writers.

Historically, many zines have regularly published „Letters of Comment” evaluating and responding to the published works, a tradition within science fiction fandom that dates back to the letter columns of Hugo Gersnback’s pulp magazines.

HENRY JENKINS. 1992. TEXTUAL PROACHERS. NEW YORK: ROUTLEDGE, p 163

Spaces for danmei fans in the age of Internet

Early danmei forums and websites were usually run by students, who had neither money nor experience, and often suffered from funding shortage and unstable servers. After the rise of big commercial websites like Jinjiang Literature City (jjwxc.net, 2003- ), Liancheng Read (lcread.com, 2007- ), and Danmei Chinese Web (52blgl.com, 2008- ), those self-owned noncommercial websites gradually went into decline.

Ling, Yang; Yanrui, Xu. Chinese Danmei Fandom and Cultural Globalization from Below=LAVIN, MAUD; YANG, LING; ZHAO, JING JAMIE 2017. BOY’S LOVE, COSPLAY AND ANDROGYNOUS IDOLS: QUEER FAN CULTURES IN MAINLAND CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN, HONG KONG UNIVERSITY PRESS, HKU, XII.

Apart from commercial websites, Baidu Post Bar, the biggest Chinese communication platform provided by the search engine company Baidu, offers ample space for danmei fans to set up open-access “bars” or forums at no cost.

Ling, Yang; Yanrui, Xu. Chinese Danmei Fandom and Cultural Globalization from Below=LAVIN, MAUD; YANG, LING; ZHAO, JING JAMIE 2017. BOY’S LOVE, COSPLAY AND ANDROGYNOUS IDOLS: QUEER FAN CULTURES IN MAINLAND CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN, HONG KONG UNIVERSITY PRESS, HKU, XII.

GL fanfic as bildungsroman

GL fanfic functions as bildungsroman and as self-help books for these young women to learn to love, to live (…) The friendship, intimacy and homosociality that the fan community offers construct these women’s gender and sexual subjectivities that in many ways refuse the normalization of gender, sexuality and social relations.

Ling Yang & Hongwei Bao (2012) QUEERLY INTIMATE:, Cultural Studies,
26:6, 842-871, DOI: 10.1080/09502386.2012.679286

Sharing knowledge about psychology and sexology in fandom

In fandom, participants can gather cultural capital either related or unrelated to the text the fandom is centred around. One, marked space of this cultural capital is psychology and sexology.

(Fandom) has a high percentage of disabled participants, and is concerned with issues of accessibility (both digital and meatspace) and positive disability representation in a way that is still not mainstream.

Coppa, Francesca (2014). Fuck yeah, Fandom is Beautiful, Journal of Fandom Studes 2(1), 78.

This personal and creative interest then translates into the shared knowledge of the community.

At a New Year fanfic writing competition held in the bar, the bar managers (bazhu) listed 10 different kinds of diseases, including mythomania, topoanaesthesia, antropophobia and borderline personality, many of which are highly specializedterms borrowed frompsychological literature and Japanese fanfics. GL fans seem to have a broader knowledge of psychology and sexology than the general public.

LING YANG & HONGWEI BAO (2012) QUEERLY INTIMATE:, CULTURAL STUDIES,
26:6, 842-871, DOI: 10.1080/09502386.2012.679286

Do you have experiences of how knowledge in these areas appears in fannish spaces?

What academica can learn from fandom

Thus rather than trying to create a homogenous reading or attempting to essentialize fandom and the artworks that spring out of it, we hope to mirror the discussions and vitality of differences that characterize fandom.

Hellekson, Karen; Busse, Kristina  2006. „Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet” McFarland.

(…) we use our fannish knowledge and values and apply them to academic practices. Rather than privileging a particular interpretation as accurate, we have learned from fandom that alternative and competing readings can and must coexist. We thus use fannish practice as a model for academic practice.

Hellekson, Karen; Busse, Kristina  2006. „Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet” McFarland.

Identifying main influences in Chinese fanfiction trends

I have quoted articles talking about the Japanese and Western influences on Chinese fandom and this paper talks about a third main influence.

The emergence of Chinese fanfic is linked to the rise of online ACG forums and popular access to the Internet in China in late 1990s. While in the main heavily influenced by Japanese ACG and increasingly by Western popular culture such as the Harry Potter series, Chinese fanfic has also followed the indigenous Chinese tradition of writing sequels to well-known classical novels. Many fanfic stories which are set in premodern China, draw on classical literary references and narrative traditions (Wang 2008).

Ling Yang & Hongwei Bao (2012) QUEERLY INTIMATE:, Cultural Studies,
26:6, 842-871, DOI: 10.1080/09502386.2012.679286
Wang, Z. (2008) Tongren De Shijie: Dui Yizhong Wangluo Xiaozhong Wenhua De
Yanjiu (the World of Do¯jin: A Study of a Minority Online Culture), Beijing,
Xinhua chubanshe.

Proposed methodology based on researching Hungarian Harry Potter fans

In reality, we feel that instead of trying to gauge the level of fandom and the fans’ (presumed) internal motivations, it is more appropriate to use an approach that looks at the variety of fan practices as a complex system. Thus, instead of examining the level of involvement or the creative practices of the fans in the Harry Potter universe, we propose to reconstruct and interpret the complex patterns of public affairs-related activities among them. To put this more simply, what motivates our research is not a desire to separate the simple spectator, the lurker, from the fanatical fans, but to look instead at the variety of follower (fan) practices and how they overlap and intersect with an interest in public affairs. These considerably more mundane, everyday reactions tend to be delimited by the preset options that Facebook provides its users with. These mundane online activities, reactions, and digital footprints are substantial not only in terms of their sheer numbers but also in providing a more comprehensive overview of the characteristics of a decisive portion of the audience, thereby giving the observer a more accurate picture of the fanbase.

DESSEWFFY, TIBOR, AND MIKES MEZEI. 2020. “FANS AND POLITICS IN AN ILLIBERAL STATE.” IN “FANDOM AND POLITICS,” EDITED BY ASHLEY HINCK AND AMBER DAVISSON, SPECIAL ISSUE, TRANSFORMATIVE WORKS AND CULTURES, NO. 32. HTTPS://DOI.ORG/10.3983/TWC.2019.1757.

Alienation in filk

The bankrupt values and lack of imagination filkers recognize in media producers and literary hacks get mapped onto the larger social order through an evocation of a long-standing distinction between fan culture and the mundane world. This distinction is partially one between the fannish and the nonfannish, a contrast essentially reversing the normal-abnormal dichotomy drawn in journalistic accounts of fan culture (…) Fandom becomes the standard against which consumer culture is measured, thereby expressing both the pleasure fans find within fan culture and the displeasure they feel toward many aspects of their everyday life.

JENKINS, HENRY (1992) TEXTUAL POACHER, ROUTLEDGE, 268.

It is also interesting that the Weber song, like „Escape from Mundania” characterizes mundanes through their consumer choices and cultural preferences, just like fans themselves are characterized through their tastes and leisure acitvities

JENKINS, HENRY (1992) TEXTUAL POACHER, ROUTLEDGE, 269.

It vividly expresses the profound alienation many fans feel in a world whose values are fundamentally at odds with their own and where they enjoy limited creative freedom within fairly menial jobs. Mundania contrasts sharpy with the sense of community, creativity, and intensity they find within fandom.

JENKINS, HENRY (1992) TEXTUAL POACHER, ROUTLEDGE, 269.