Yaoi/ BL (Boys’ Love) is not without criticism. Not all these stories are happy and rosy. In fact, one of the biggest criticisms of BL is that they are often tragedies. When looking for reviews one of the first things viewers ask is, “Does it have a happy ending?” More than half the time the answer is no.
Personally, I find them to be still worth watching because the stories are just so touching. When I need a good cry, nothing does it better than a good Yaoi love story. Yesterday I took the plunge and started watching the Thai drama special, Grey Rainbow. In terms of cinematography and acting, its probably the best I have seen in BL. But I am preparing myself for the tears.
Rape and other violent sexual acts are not uncommon in BL works. The Chinese drama/ novel Addicted is a good example of violence in relationships. As a society, we consider this unacceptable behavior, yet Addicted is one of the most popular BL dramas out there.
I think this is because aggressive behavior among 2 men is easier to accept for many people. It has to do with the power dynamics. You have 2 men considered to have equal amounts of power. In the case of a heterosexual relationship, the distribution is not balance and the woman is often considered “weaker.” This allows women to further distance themselves from the violence and see it as slightly less disturbing than when the aggressive behavior is directed towards a woman, like themselves.
If BL involves such aggressive and almost violent themes, why is it still appealing to so many? BL is definitely targeted towards women and is therefore written to appeal to their ideas of love and relationships. BL works tend to follow the, “I-hurt-you-only-because-I-love-you” trope. Despite being an aggressive individual, the seme (“top”) is often portrayed as being actually kind and caring towards his partner. I know that I keep citing Addicted as an example but this is another case where it is a good example.
In order to cater to this fantasy of a loving relationship, we are often provided with plenty of fan-service in the form of happy and fun BTS scenes. Viewers can continue their fantasies, often “shipping” the actors in real life. There is also plenty of fan fiction written about the most popular BL couples.
There might be plenty of “deep” psychological reasons that women enjoy BL but as I see it, at the core, its a form of light erotica. Its no wonder that it appeals to women when most of the porn out there is definitely not made for them. Sometimes the viewer just wants to watch 2 guys get it on. As one viewer said “The sex is just hotter.”
Not all BL works include sex scenes. Very often all you get is one kiss scene. But the more intense the scenes, the more popular the shows tend to be. Any BL story you find on YouTube will have associated, fan-made, “hot scenes” videos to go with it. I will admit that I have watched such videos multiple times and enjoyed them.
I am sure there are many more reasons out there for the popularity of Yaoi/ BL. Whatever one’s reasons for enjoying them are, there are others who share your thoughts. I find the BL lovers community to be pretty open and inviting much like any K-Pop fandoms. The growing popularity and increased output of BL works shows that this genre is here to stay. And as a BL lover, that’s good news because the quality keeps improving.
This was not an easy piece to write considering that many of us hide the fact that we even like Yaoi/ BL. But I am a curious person and I want to know more. Share your thoughts. Why do you like BL?