“Power Generation With Love”: Traffic Factory Girl and Mum-fan’s Maternal Love


"Mum-fan", a phenomenon in Chinese fandom, stands for those who consider themselves to be their idol's mother. Mum-fans, range in age from under 18 to over 45, dedicate themselves to their idols' career shown through "maternal love" through various "daily baby-rearing activities". Most of these activities aim to increase traffic -a kind of quantified influence power – to their idols. Besides, these activities have specific and concrete processes and division of labour like a factory assembly line. Thus mum-fan is nicknamed "traffic factory girl" on Chinese internet narrative. "Power generation with love" was initially coined by environmentalists in Taiwan against nuclear power around 2014. Afterward, mainland Chinese netizens extended this phrase to apply to those who participate in activities with low or no profit. Now, mum-fans use it to describe their motivation and participation for voluntary fan activities. This study aims to explore mum-fans' daily activities, trying to understand the motivations of their "maternal love" and build a relational model through participant observation. It turns out that mum-fans are profoundly involved in the Chinese entertainment industry. To some extent, they can determine an idol's (usually comes from specific backgrounds, such as competition shows) commercial value. As a result, they're empowered to decide who can, and in what manner, stand under the spotlight. Thus, the predetermined power between fan and idol has shifted.

Author Information
Ye Li, Swinburne University of Technology, Malaysia
Bertha LuPhin Chin, Swinburne University of Technology, Malaysia

Paper Information
Conference: KAMC2021
Stream: Gender

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon