Lan Wangji The Forklift: The Surprising Intersection of Fandom & The Coronavirus


Lan Wangji the Forklift Coronavirus

The coronavirus outbreak is a very serious situation, but fandom is managing to find cute ways to be both helpful and entertaining during the health crisis.

We’ve been covering how the Coronavirus is affecting geek culture from the closure of Shanghai Disney to the cancellation of several eSports events in China, but what I didn’t expect is my recent favorite story, Mo Dao Zu Shi, to suddenly take the spotlight in a fun and rather silly way.

Mo Dao Zu Shi is a Chinese Xianxia novel that has been adapted into a donghua (cartoon), manhua (comic), and live-action show. It’s become incredibly popular not just in China, but to a global audience. The various adaptions have been getting officially translated into other languages to meet that demand and fan translators have been filling in the gaps where official releases have been lacking. It’s developed a strong fanbase online and has become one of the more active fandoms on various social media platforms.

Lan Wangji, one of the main characters of the story, is a huge fan favorite, having won awards for just being so darn awesome. He’s known for being a graceful yet powerful spiritual cultivator who has a habit of showing up wherever the chaos is. From the moment he shows up in the story, it’s easy to see why he’s a fan favorite, and it’s hard not to fall in love with him more and more as the story goes on.

And now he’s being honored with a forklift named after him. The forklift is helping build the temporary hospitals intended to house people with the coronavirus. The best part of this? He’s currently the most popular forklift on the scene. Lan Wangji is powerful in all his forms, including as a piece of construction equipment. And we should expect nothing less from our Hanguang-jun.

The construction equipment popularity contest is taking place online, where the hospital building project is being broadcast via CCTV. More than 40 million people have tuned in to watch the construction of the two hospitals, which will have a combined total of over 2300 beds once completed. The first hospital, which will have about 1,000 beds, will be completed by February 3rd, with the second one wrapping up construction a little later in the month.

The ranking system, provided through WeChat, is giving some much-needed entertainment and light-hearted fandom unity to a population that’s going through a very serious situation. Over 50 million people have been quarantined in China since the coronavirus outbreak began, mostly centered around Wuhan in the Hubei province. There have been more than 8,000 cases confirmed worldwide with over 200 deaths reported in China. The actual count of those infected with the virus is almost assuredly much higher.

So, to put it simply, things are pretty dire and these tens of millions of people deserve to have a bit of fun while they’re stuck at home with not much else to do. This fan-driven popularity contest is proving to be that outlet for the masses, giving them something silly to focus on in the midst of a crisis. 

The Chinese social media website Weibo has also been flooded with fanart for various forklifts and cement trucks on the scene, including our beloved Lan Wangji. Many of the other construction vehicles have cute nicknames such as The Cement King and Song Huizong. One particularly notable red flatbed truck is being dubbed Brother Red Bull.

Needless to say, fandom is delighted that our little blue forklift Hanguang-jun is currently in the lead. True to his reputation of being where the chaos is, the little machine is out there working hard to complete an almost impossible task in the middle of a crisis. Way to go, Lan Wangji! We believe in you.

This rather delightful Lan Wangji forklift situation isn’t the only way Mo Dao Zu Shi fans have stepped up in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Many fans have created fanart of the MDZS characters doing various things such as teaching people how to wear face masks properly or encouraging good hygiene. 

As one user noted, the sign that was spotted in Japan is particularly appropriate as the characters depicted live in the fictional city of Yunmeng, which is located in Hubei province where the real world coronavirus outbreak is most heavily concentrated.

Please listen to Yiling Laozu, Sandu Shengshou, and Hanguang-jun. Wash your hands frequently. Wear a mask if you must go outdoors in China or other high-risk areas. And, if you’re feeling sick, please stay home. And, if they aren’t considered reputable enough for you to take coronavirus prevention tips from, just follow these tips from the CDC.

We will continue to cover the coronavirus as it affects geek culture going forward. But, as we’ve stated in our previous articles, we likely won’t have major updates outside of the geek focused scope of our website.

Our favorite trusted places for serious updates on the situation are The Washington Post, Al Jazeera, and NPR.  The CDC and WHO are also fantastic official sources for official information.

Author: Angel Wilson

Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They identify as queer.

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