Subtle Storytelling Methods: The Boy's Love Danmei Novel Adaptation Process versus PRC Censorship Restrictions

Harville, Evelyne J.
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This thesis analyzes the relationship between the censorship practices of the PRC (People's Republic of China) and the genre of BL (Boy's Love)/danmei in China. My focus for this project is to evaluate the subtle storytelling methods used by creators of BL works such as Guardian (2018) and Word of Honor (2021) to adapt BL novels to the screen while avoiding censure. I conducted two case studies into the storytelling methods of Guardian and Word of Honor, demonstrating how these shows appear to follow censorship guidelines, but still manage to tell homoromantic stories to observant viewers familiar with BL methods and tropes. As part of this mechanical explication, I reviewed some of the publicity created and operated by the production companies that produce BL dramas and their relationships with the danmei community. I considered both the 'how' and the 'why' of producing BL dramas from the perspective of the production companies and the actors involved. Finally, I explained the current dilemma of the BL/danmei community in the face of the new Qinglang Campaign sponsored by the Cyberspace Administration of China. This has resulted in dozens of actors to lose their livelihood with some targeted attacks on the BL/danmei community such as the AO3 Incident involving Xiao Zhan in 2020 and the blacklisting of Zhang Zhehan in 2021.

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Boy's Love, China, Danmei, Guardian, Qinglang, Word of Honor