Chinese Brands Cut Ties With bilibili Over Accusations of Site's 'Tolerance' for Misogynistic Content
posted on by Kim Morrissy
A number of Chinese brands announced that they will no longer work with streaming service bilibili amid accusations of the site's "tolerance" for misogynistic content. The instigator of the controversy is reportedly the Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation anime series, which bilibili was streaming until the episodes were removed last Sunday.
Global Times reported that the series is polarizing in China, and that some have criticized it for "violating mainstream values and morals and being inappropriate for underage audiences." Although the series reportedly enjoyed a 9.2/10 rating on bilibili, it was review-bombed on the Chinese media reviewing platform Douban, with 72% giving it a 1-star rating.
According to Variety, a vocal group of female bilibili users accused the platform of "tolerating misogynistic and sexually suggestive content" and marketing it at mainstream viewers. bilibili allegedly shut down the accounts of many of those female users, while overlooking the male users who have also criticized the site's handling of Mushoku Tensei.
The contact lens seller Sigo, cosmetics brands UKISS and Spenny, sanitary napkin vendor Sofy, and skincare company Lin Qingxuan are among the boycotting brands. Sofy announced on Weibo that it "firmly opposes and strongly condemns any forms of insulting behavior or remarks against women. We respect women and care for them."
South China Morning Post reported that the company made the following statement on Wednesday: “Respect is the cornerstone of the community and the basic guiding principle for operating bilibili. This includes respect for users, content creators, different genders, various interest groups, cultural circles.” The company intends to moderate and remove "problematic" content and accounts throughout this month.
The anime attracted controversy on bilibili when the popular Chinese influencer LexBurner disparaged the series and its fans. In a February 1 livestream, he allegedly called fans the "bottom-feeders in the social hierarchy." The video has since been removed from his channel, although an audio recording of the deleted video can be accessed here. LexBurner apologized for his remarks last Friday, and bilibili issued a statement on Monday that the streamer is suspended from posting new content due to his "inappropriate remarks." He will also be facing legal action for breaking his contract with bilibili.
Last Thursday, Mushoku Tensei author Rifujin na Magonote commented on LexBurner's actions as follows: "His words are only his personal opinion, and he is free to hold whatever views he likes. Although I am displeased at how he has insulted other viewers, anime is not just made for successful people, so I hope that those who can enjoy it will enjoy it."
In response to a Chinese fan who told them that LexBurner's views are very influential among Chinese netizens, Rifujin na Magonote further commented: "If that is the kind of online presence he is, that's just the way it is sometimes. Even in Japan, there are plenty of people like him, although they might not have his influence. As far as I am concerned, instead of engaging with him, I think it is more important to ignore him and grow your own communities. Thank you!"
bilibili's stated reason for halting streaming of Mushoku Tensei is "technical failure." As of this article's writing, the first four episodes have been removed, and the fifth episode has not been uploaded.
The story follows a 34-year-old man who is killed after trying to save someone from getting hit by a car. He soon finds himself reincarnated in a magical world as Rudeus Greyrat, except that he gets his whole life reset, starting as a baby.
With all of his knowledge from his previous life, and a new heaping helping of magical ability, Rudeus quickly becomes a formidable warrior ready for adventure. Oh, and he's still a total pervert.
The anime premiered on January 10 at 24:00 (effectively, January 11 at midnight).