|BTS poses during an online red carpet event of the Grammy Awards 2021, Monday. Courtesy of Big Hit Entertainment|
By Park Ji-won
|A statement released by Topps / Courtesy of Topps|
The "racist" illustration was made a week before the 63rd Grammy Awards as part of its Garbage Pail Kids sticker collection under the name, "The Shammy Awards," showing the battered seven members in a whack-a-mole game being hit with a golden gramophone award. In addition to the BTS sticker, the company released Grammy-inspired products featuring performers such as Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Megan Thee Stallion and Harry Styles. However, unlike the depiction of BTS, those artists' likenesses were not largely distorted or made by using their original pictures.
As criticism followed, the American company released a statement apologizing for making people "upset" and removed the stickers, Wednesday, local time.
As of Friday, however, the number of posts criticizing the New York-based company for making the racist drawing is increasing, while there are growing calls for a better apology in light of the hashtag movement criticizing racism against Asian people.
"@Topps. As human beings that deserve respect we demand a sincere apology from you for sharing and promoting violence and hate towards BTS and Asian Community. As well as an acknowledgment of your mistakes. #StopeAsianHate," a Twitter user wrote Friday.
"Topps still hasn't really apologized. All they did was place blame on ARMY for removing the card and said 'sorry you were offended.' Apparently they aren't really sorry for creating it and perpetuating violence against Asians," another user wrote Friday.
Along with Topps, netizens criticized U.S. media such as PopCrush and Billboard with a #RacismIsNotComedy hashtag for promoting the illustration in their articles, which led PopCrush to issue a statement and write an article apologizing for its ignorance for not questioning the problem of the illustration and showing the violent images.
"On Tuesday (March 16), we at PopCrush published what we intended to be a straightforward news report about the recently released Topps Garbage Pail Kids Shammy Awards collection. Our story included a gallery of images of the card designs. We completely failed, and for that, we are sorry … We need to be clear, now and moving forward: BTS' card design was not 'questionable' ― it was violent and racist, and completely inappropriate, especially in light of the horrifying recent increase in violence and hate toward Asians and the Asian American community," PopCrush wrote on its website.
The hashtag movements originally started to spread among netizens following a shooting spree in Atlanta on Tuesday, local time, that killed eight people, including four of Korean decent, which is suspected of being a hate crime committed by a white man against Asian people.
Regarding the tragic incident, celebrities such as CL from 2NE1, Jackson Wang from GOT7 and Sandra Oh and many other internet users joined the #StopAsianHate movement.
"As an Asian myself, what has been happening is truly heartbreaking. Hatred and racism of any kind is not acceptable. I truly believe no one is born hating. Those who have hated must have learned to hate. If anyone can learn to hate then they can learn to love," Wang wrote on social media Friday.