The Grammys is often criticized for marginalizing ‘non-white’ artists from winning the awards, and many have lost their minds over BTS not taking home the best pop duo/group performance award in their first-ever nomination, with Refinery pointing out that the Grammys used BTS as “eye and ear candy” for free promotion & massive viewership and that everyone basically fell for it.
While the K-pop boy-band seems to have moved on from their loss with no qualms but all the positives in their achievement and specifying it was not a “failure”, there was no question that their representation at the Grammys would be a focal point for quite some time. And one particular trading card distributing company is under heavy scrutiny for its caricature depiction of BTS losing out on the award.
Why ‘The Topps Company’s Stickers Outraged BTS Fans and the Asian Community
The Topps Company released a set of Grammy-themed trading cards called the Shammy Awards collection from their Garbage Pail Kids series, as a parody to the Cabbage Patch Kids, and they were immediately met with quick and outraged backlashes from the fans and the Asian community.
The BTS stickers, titled BTS Bruisers, depict caricatures of the seven existing members, Jimin, Jin, Jungkook, J-Hope, RM, Suga and V, with bruises all over their faces after being seemingly hit by a hand holding a Grammy in a game of Whac-a-Mole.
#RacismIsNotComedy@Topps apologize!! And remove that cover! In this kind of situation when we asians are getting killed you are literally doing something so stupid and so disgusting thing!Regret it now!.its not only about BTS but the whole asian community!delete it rn! Speed up! pic.twitter.com/WVnpUgIgZy
— bts.army.77777777 (@bangtan75495781) March 17, 2021
The snapshot of their cards on their website immediately went viral, and the company was met with a swarm of accusations of being racist against the Asian community as a whole. In a matter of minutes, #RacismIsNotComedy has become trending all over the world on Twitter.
@Topps made a representation of violence in their illustrations towards B/TS. It's not funny and it's a mockery towards the rise in crime against the asian community, we think it would be right to take legal actions. #RacismIsNotComedy
— Saviola (@Saviola01871107) March 17, 2021
Fans have professed their disgust at the company mocking and insulting Asians by animating violence and hate on Asian artists. It also comes at a time the reports and video evidence of violence against Asians have spiked in the US, with #StopAsianHate also equally trending on Twitter, and thus the timing couldn’t have been more wrong. Fans have repeatedly reiterated the famous words they once stated that promote anti-racist sentiments, shown in the Tweet above.
The Company Has Apologized for It, But Fans Don’t Buy It
While the racism accusations and the cancel culture are weighing on the company, many also originally pushed for the company to issue an apology for depicting hate on Asians in such a manner and removing the cards from sales. In response, Topps has issued a statement and the actions for their conduct, but no one seems to be really buying it.
— Topps (@Topps) March 17, 2021
Many find their statement to not be something that really defines an “apology”, calling it a “backhand” and unacceptable. They are asserting that the company has not acknowledged their mistake and only catered to their consumers’ concerns rather than the Asian community as a whole. There is no sign of “remorse” is the common opinion.
@Topps Their apology is not honest, they released that statement without foundation and without acknowledging their mistake, it is very difficult to accept that they were wrong and that their drawing was racist, that it does not laugh. #RacismIsNotComedy
— Miracles🇵🇪💜 (@HOBIIIIBIASED) March 17, 2021
This is not apology what you did. You should learn the meaning of apology. If you can't respect anyone then stay away from them. You don’t have the right to insult anyone. If you respect others then you’ll get respect otherwise you will not. #ToppsRACIST #RacismIsNotComedy pic.twitter.com/ZkImI9SvhN
— Soha⁷ (@SamairaSoha) March 17, 2021
They apologized to their clients but they should have apologized to Asians in general and to the members in particular
Anyway, they did this to gain attention. I still feel pity for them.#RacismIsNotComedy pic.twitter.com/pbn3dRJv5f
— Rawan Saeed (@RawanSa57256592) March 17, 2021
While BTS or their management company, Big Hit Entertainment, is yet to respond to the growing insurgence of support against Topps‘ actions, they have acknowledged their massive success in the American music market. Their hit English-language song, Dynamite, set up a world record for the “most simultaneous viewers for a music video on YouTube Premieres,” according to Guinness World Records, with over three million viewers at the same time back in 2020.
The band additionally received their first double-platinum certification in the US with the same song, which RIAA also tweeted out with excitement on March 17. It was also the same song they performed at the Grammys via V Live and was nominated for the aforementioned category of the Grammys. Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga‘s Rain on Me duet took home the award.
“I don’t think it’s a failure but let’s look at the positive side; we were nominated for the first time and did our first solo performance,” RM said during the virtual interaction at the award show. They made history by being the first Korean presenters at the Grammys in 2019 and then being the first K-Pop artist/band to be nominated for a category this year.
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