Addicted to China's Gay Web Series Heroin3:46 AM
This isn't about how Manny Pacquiao's anti-gay slur has plagued your Facebook timeline with different opinions from people you care (and you don't) for the past few weeks. This also isn't about who won and who lost from that month-long debate. This is to help you explore on what's really happening out there because, yup, gay love exists whether you find it to be right or wrong.
Our exhibit comes from the most unlikely of places - China, which is listed as one of the world's least tolerant countries to homosexuality. Only 2 in every 10 people in the mainland would agree that society should accept gays yet they have Gu Hai and Bai Luo Yin, two high school boys who fell in love with each other, and has made huge press in conservative China.
The 15-episode web series entitled "Addicted" and later "Heroin" (also "Addiction") got the attention of the country's younger internet generation. The buzz was so huge that China's SARFT (State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television) has to remove the fourth episode from major web streaming sites in January this year. All episodes were now uploaded on YouTube, however, available for viewing for fans outside China. That's too bad for mainland folks, good for you and me.
This is the reason why I ended up sleepless yesterday, finishing all 15 episodes in one night. The webisodes were only 25-minutes long but I gotta agree that the show has lived up to its title. Or maybe I am just being biased because the series showcases something that I can totally relate. It is Addicting, indeed.
Gu Hai, portrayed by the dashing Huang Jingyu (widely known as the 23-year old Johnny Huang) is your typical tough guy slash bully (Read "She's Dating The Gangster"). Harboring a deep grudge towards his wealthy father for the death of his mother, Gu Hai decides to live on his own when his dad re-marries. After transferring to a public school, he met Bai Luo Yin, being portrayed by 21-year old new actor Xu Wei Zhou.
Bai Luo Yin, a smart introvert, lives with his careless father and grandmother when his mother left them for another man. You may judge this as poor-guy-meets-rich-kid plot but that's not suppose to be the center of attention. You can focus on their handsome faces. I won't stop you there. But the charm of the series is anchored on the light, semi-comedic telling of how the two boys fell in love. It is a way of showing the non-informed that the process of love is the just the same for all, gay or straight.
Of course, Heroin will appeal more to the third sex. There's no doubt about that. It may pick up some screaming teen girls who will be adoring the leads' attractive boyish looks, but the great deal of the story can only be wholeheartedly accepted by someone who has felt the same way.
Why would a boy even feel special for another boy? Plain rubbish for someone who isn't brave enough to explore who he really is. The whole stretch of the middle episodes has this underlying conflict that could be seen mostly with Gu Hai, the first person who had the courage to identify the unusual romantic feeling. He is the perfect bully, feared by all his rich friends, chased by his girlfriend, but sheds off his gentle ways to that one person. There was a moment when Gu Hai would ask himself how Bai Luo Yin can make him so grounded. Then at several episodes later, he came screaming to Yin: "So what if we're both men! You're special to me! I wanna be there for you all the time!"
To those who have felt the gay love but is striving to disregard it and change, may it be because of familial pressure or personal choice, you would see a great deal in Bai Luo Yin. While being hugged by Gu Hai, he would constantly ask, "Isn't this too cheesy for two men?" A lot of times he would push his lover away and express how uncomfortable he is "because this isn't normal."
Yes, there is struggle. And for most of you who think that homosexuality is a choice, you'd be a better person when you realize it isn't. While genetic science can't still explain it concretely, it just happen. It will all be the same when it comes to love anyway. The goal is to find that someone who will share the same dreams, the same ambitions, the same ways as you and hopefully, the same sexual preference and orientation.
Moving forward from a controversial streaming of the first season, there are talks that the filming of the second season will be in Taiwan and will be cross-marketed to a broader Asian audience. A light and romantic series like "Heroin" must continue to tell this part of the world that gay relationships aren't all about sex. That feelings and commitment are huge components of it. Aren't we all for LOVE?
P.S I'm sure a lot of you have not seen it yet so I am posting the first three episodes here with the English sub-titles. By playing them on YouTube, you should be linked to the rest of the episodes. Enjoy!