BTS trading card withdrawn after online backlash over 'racist' depiction

Rachel McGrath
·3 min read
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 26: (L-R)  Jungkook, V, Suga, Jin,  RM,  Jimin and J-Hope of music group BTS attend the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
BTS on the red carpet at the 2020 Grammy Awards. (Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Trading card company Topps has removed a design featuring K-pop group BTS after critics said the depiction of the band was “racist” and “insensitive”.

The sticker was inspired by this year’s Grammy Awards, which took place earlier this week, and released as part of the Garbage Pail Kids collection.

The cartoon shows the seven members of BTS bruised and beaten as a hand plays ‘whack-a-mole’ with a Grammy Award, in an apparent reference to the fact the group did not win an accolade.

Read more: Anne Hegerty under fire for BTS tweet

The image soon sparked criticism online and one tweet compared the image of the band to the other designs, featuring artists such as Billie Eilish and Megan Thee Stallion.

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The post, which has since been liked almost 18,000 times, read: “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."

Another tweet said: “That is not satire. It’s downright racist. For anyone trying to brush it off as comedic, depicting violence like that toward an Asian group during these times is hateful & dangerous. what in the world.”

Following the outcry, Topps has issued an apology and withdrawn the sticker from the collection.

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A company statement shared on Twitter reads: “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.

“We have removed the BTS sticker card from the set, we have not printed any of the sticker card and it will not be available.”

The controversy comes amid conversations on the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes.

UNSPECIFIED: (L-R) In this screengrab released on March 14, RM, Jimin, Jungkook, Jin, J-Hope, Suga, and V of BTS perform onstage during the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards broadcast on March 14, 2021. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
BTS performed as part of this year's Grammys ceremony. (Getty for The Recording Academy)

Data released earlier this month reveals there has been a rise anti-Asian attacks in the US with over 3,800 incidents being reported in the past year.

The report, from nonprofit organisation AAPI Hate, came in the wake of an Atlanta shooting which saw eight women, six of whom were Asian, killed.

BTS were nominated for the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance prize at this year's Grammys, but lost out to Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande.

See the best moments from the 2021 Grammy Awards below...