Officially Sanctioned Adaptation and Affective Fan Resistance: The Transmedia Convergence of the Online Drama Guardian in China
Keywords:Adaptation, Media Censorship, Chinese TV drama, Boys’ Love Fandom, Fan Fictions
This article examines how the adaptation process and fan engagement are constituted in the Mainland China media landscape by focusing on the phenomenally popular online drama Guardian (镇魂2018). Through an in-depth analysis of this series, the article explores the contestation and negotiation between the “top-down expurgation” from the drama’s production team during its adaptation process and the “bottom-up subversion” from the fans of this series during its reception and consumption. If the intentional expurgation signifies a strategy of survival confronting the restrictions imposed by censors, then the fans’ creative activities work as a kind of resistance to the (post)socialist ideology in China, where homosexuality has been considered a violation of traditional Confucian values, where supernatural narratives have been viewed as backward superstitions, and socially wronged lower-class members are seen as a threat to social stability. The adaptation of Guardian from novel to drama and its reception becomes a battlefield of strategic compliance and resistance, where economic demand and political power, modern liberal attitudes toward gender, sexuality, and equality and traditional values concerning harmony, conformity, and authority contest and negotiate.
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