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Tang Jiafeng vs. TFBoys Fans: A Debate on Celebrity Culture in China

CultureTang Jiafeng vs. TFBoys Fans: A Debate on Celebrity Culture in China

A recent outburst by renowned mathematics teacher, Tang Jiafeng, against ardent fans of mainland China’s leading boy band, TFBoys, has thrown him into the epicenter of a stormy debate about fan culture and celebrity worship. This unexpected controversy offers a glimpse into the larger societal dynamics in China, where fandom has often been scrutinized.

On August 6, the air in Xian, a city in northwestern Shaanxi province, was thick with anticipation as TFBoys hosted their 10th-anniversary concert, speculated to be their last as a group. The unparalleled popularity of the trio, Karry Wang Junkai, Jackson Yee Yangqianxi, and Roy Wang Yuan, was evident as thousands swarmed the city. This immense turnout created logistical challenges, with blocked roads and overflowing public spaces. The demand for the 30,000 available tickets was overwhelming, with over 6.5 million fans vying for them. The frenzied demand led to skyrocketing ticket prices on the black market, and the city’s hotels were packed around the concert dates.

However, it was this very spectacle of “brainless star chasing”, as critics dubbed it, that drew Tang Jiafeng’s ire. Known for his vast influence among university students and those preparing for graduate school exams, Tang’s voice carries weight. Days after the concert, he expressed his disdain on Weibo, questioning the band’s talent and implying that their only skill was, controversially, “collecting faeces”, a play on the band’s name from their early days. This comment, which he later deleted, didn’t go unnoticed, prompting an outpouring of over 80,000 comments and garnering 550,000 likes.

The digital sphere became a battleground of perspectives. Some lauded Tang for echoing a sentiment they shared, commending him for taking a stand against excessive fandom. One user remarked, “Finally, an expert berates TFBoys’ crazy fans.” Others cautioned him about the anticipated backlash, drawing parallels between ardent fans and cult followers.

However, TFBoys’ loyalists didn’t stay silent. They fiercely defended their idols, highlighting the group’s hard work, talent, and the positive impact they’ve had on their lives. Some pointedly reminded Tang of the principles of mutual respect, while others demanded a collective boycott of his classes, even going as far as suggesting he be reported for unethical behavior.

Xian city, despite the challenges presented by the concert, saw economic advantages, raking in a substantial tourism revenue during the event. As the debate around fandom intensifies, the larger question emerges about how society perceives and handles celebrity worship. Editorials, like the one in Jimu News, advocate for a balanced approach, emphasizing guiding fans with the right values rather than outright condemnation. It underscores the need for curbing the darker aspects of fan culture and ensuring fans celebrate their idols in a constructive, civil manner.


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