When Chinese-Canadian star and former EXO member Kris Wu was detained by Beijing police on July 31 on suspicion of rape, a number of zealous fans professed outrage. Not because of him possibly having abused young girls, but because they refuse to believe their idol could be guilty.
Some of Wu’s fansreportedly wanted to break him out of jail and swore to give up their Chinese citizenship to protest against the arrest. There were also those who offered to donate bail money. While it’s possible that these could be bluffs, jokes, oreven started by fake fans, it’s still very troubling.
That said, is it really unfair to say that fans who blindly defend an idol accused of such a grave act are on the wrong side of history?
Wu’s arrest came weeks after 19-year-old Du Meizhu alleged that he was promising career opportunities to young women, then forcing them to have sex with him. Du stated that she was 17 when he invited her into his home for a casting call, pressured her to drink alcohol, and then woke up in his bed. There are at least 24 women who have come forward with allegations against Wu for inappropriate behavior.
“There was no ‘groupie sex’! There was no ‘underage’!’” Wu posted on one of his social media accounts when the story gained traction. “If there were this kind of thing, please everyone relax, I would put myself in jail!” If he gets convicted, he faces 10 years of jail and deportation after serving his sentence in China.
Unsurprisingly, victim-blaming was part of the picture, but it was more disappointing that it came from authorities. In July, police received flak for a preliminary statement which said in part that Du had hyped her story “to enhance her online popularity.” Du’s supporters described it as victim-blaming.
Chinese social media apps, it seems, have taken note, and didn’t stand for it. A number of apps have removed Wu’s personal and business accounts from their platforms. Weibo took a step further when it closed hundreds of fan group chats and banned or suspended nearly 1,000 accounts due to “misleading remarks” on Wu’s case. There were a lot of negative remarks about Du made in support of the singer-actor, and some even justified his behavior.
K-pop isn’t always so innocent
This type of overprotective fan reaction isn’t unheard of. When former Big Bang member Seungri was embroiled in a sex scandal involving a club he owned called Burning Sun, some fans actively looked for evidence to prove his innocence. During the trial, fans already trended several hashtags such as #ApologizeTo Seungri and used it as a gotcha. Following his indictment last January, he could face five years in prison.
The case sparked national outrage as it further brought to light sexual harassment and the widespread use of molka or secretly installed miniature cameras to film women’s private parts. Among the accusations against Seungri were that he shared photos of naked women in chat rooms. Women have protested against molka culture by taking to the streets with slogans like “My life is not your porn.”
Sexual abuse is bigger than any idol
While it’s understandable to feel hurt and a sense of disbelief when your favorite celebrity is accused of a heinous crime, it’s not okay to immediately discredit possible victims and clamor for your fave’s name to be cleared.
Inspect your own motivations if you feel compelled to do so. Is it because you believe that you know them best even if you’re not part of your fave’s personal life? Is it because you feel guilty by association and in denial because of all the time you’ve spent as their fan? Is it because it has become second nature to you to defend your fave against “haters”?
Being a fan is just one aspect of who we are. Sexual abuse is a far bigger issue than fandom drama. The movement to fight abuse and support survivors is older than your fave’s career. Do not let yourself become a part of a culture that silences victims.
Photo screengrabbed from Kris Wu’s “July” music video