Trading card company Topps has removed its Garbage Pail Kids sticker card that depicts the K-pop boyband BTS with bruised and battered faces.
Earlier this week, Topps unveiled the new 2021 Grammys-inspired collection for its satirical Garbage Pail Kids series. The set of cards, dubbed “The Shammy Awards”, features caricatures of the 2021 ceremony’s biggest stars, including Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Megan Thee Stallion and Harry Styles.
The illustration of BTS featured the K-pop group with their faces bruised and beaten in a game of whack-a-mole with a Grammy trophy.
The caricature version for the other artists seems cute and child-like, while the one for BTS depicts them as beaten, bruised with the look of fear on their face. @Topps you’re supporting the hate against Asians, this is not even qualified as a garbage humor, this is hateful. pic.twitter.com/foOvLnhoA9
— Dita ᴮᴱ⁷ (@almostdita) March 17, 2021
Shortly after its unveiling, Topps received backlash online over the card, which fans deemed insensitive. Fans also launched the Twitter hashtag #RacismIsNotComedy.
On March 17, the company released a statement on social media saying it has removed the card of BTS from its deck, adding that it has “not printed any of the sticker card and it will not be available”.
“We hear and understand our consumers who are upset about the portrayal of BTS in our GPK Shammy Awards product and we apologise for including it,” Topps wrote.
— Topps (@Topps) March 17, 2021
The Topps controversy comes amid increasing anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States. On Tuesday (March 16), eight people – of which six were Asian – were killed in a shooting in Atlanta, Georgia. The attacks took place at two spas and a massage parlour in the area, The New York Times reported.
Authorities confirmed that four of the victims were women of Korean descent, while the backgrounds of the other victims have yet to be confirmed. A 21-year-old man has also been arrested in connection to all three shootings.
BTS fans have called out Topps for being insensitive, especially during such turbulent times in the Asian-American community. “The lack of accountability & deflection of blame only invalidate the feelings of those hurt & contribute to hate against Asians,” one fan wrote.
“I’m sorry you got upset” is not an apology @Topps. Take real responsibility. Acknowledge the insensitivity & implicit racism in your portrayal of BTS. The lack of accountability & deflection of blame only invalidate the feelings of those hurt & contribute to hate against Asians.
— ᴮᴱ BTS Press⁷ (@BTSPressData) March 17, 2021
Several celebrities, including K-pop stars, have also spoken out against anti-Asian racism and violence following the events. Epik High’s Tablo, CL, Eric Nam, AleXa, P1Harmony and Blackswan’s Fatou, among others, have taken to social media to stand in solidarity with Asian Americans.
Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner has also addressed the Atlanta shooting, describing the threat of violent hate towards Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders as “very real”.
“We are white adjacent until we are not,” the Korean-American musician tweeted. “Til someone calls us a chink, or mocks an accent, claims we started this virus from eating dogs and bats, attacks our elders, targets and kills us.”
Just last month, German radio DJ Matthias Matuschik was accused of making racist comments about BTS on air. Halsey later defended the global superstars, saying she was “horrified” by Matuschik “disgusting” comments.
“This is unacceptable,” she said. “I hope a better apology to BTS, and the Asian communities across the world, is on its way.”