BTS Were the Target of Anti-Asian and Racist Remarks

On Feb. 23, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V, and Jungkook of BTS took part in a special episode of MTV Unplugged. During the episode, BTS performed a cover of Coldplay’s 2005 single “Fix You.”

After the MTV Unplugged episode aired, German radio host Matthias Matuschik took issue with BTS’ cover of “Fix You,” leading him to make racist remarks about the group.

Following international backlash from BTS fans and celebrities, Matuschikthe and the radio station Bayern 3 released apologies that come across as insincere.

BTS performed ‘Fix You’ on ‘MTV Unplugged’

On “MTV Unplugged Presents: BTS,” the septet performed “Telepathy,” “Blue & Grey,” “Dynamite,” and “Life Goes On” from their 2020 album BE along with the “Fix You” cover.

All in all, the MTV Unplugged episode was a celebration of BTS’ momentous work from the past year. “Dynamite” became BTS’ first song to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and the septet became the first all-South Korean group to hit No. 1 on the chart. 

BTS earned a 2021 Grammy Award nomination for “Dynamite,” making history once again. The 63rd annual Grammy Awards will air on March 14, and the members of BTS are nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

With “Life Goes On,” BTS earned their third No. 1 song in history, but also made history by releasing the first non-English-language song to ever debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100.

The Korean band was the subject of racist remarks

On Feb. 24, Matuschik did not like the band’s cover of Coldplay’s “Fix You,” prompting him to launch into hate speech against BTS. According to the Associated Press, the radio host compared the band to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, “describing them as ‘some crappy virus that hopefully there will be a vaccine for soon as well.’”

Matuschik tried to excuse his racist comment by assuring his listeners that he was not being racist, with the Associated Press reporting that he said, “I have nothing against South Korea, you can’t accuse me of xenophobia only because this boyband is from South Korea… I have a car from South Korea. I have the coolest car around.”

Per the Associated Press, the radio host also said that as punishment for the Coldplay cover, BTS “will be vacationing in North Korea for the next 20 years.”

The radio station issued an apology

Following the radio broadcast, the outcry against Matuschik and Bayern 3 was swift. Bayern 3 and Matuschik issued formal apologies, but this did little to solve the condemnation.

Instead of taking accountability and showing remorse, the apologies come across as insincere as they reference the troubling comments as Matuschik’s opinion.

In a statement released in English, Bayern 3 said:

“It is the hallmark of this show and also of the presenter to express his opinion clearly, openly and unvarnished. But in this case, he overshot the mark in his choice of words. As a result of an attempt to present his opinion in an ironically exaggerated manner and with deliberately overdone indignation, he hurt the feelings of many BTS fans. But – as he assured us – this was in no way his intention. He only wanted to express his resentment about the above-mentioned cover version.

This is his personal opinion, regardless of the origin and cultural background of the band. You don’t have to share this taste as well as the quite coarse way of expression.”

In his statement, Matuschik explained that being racist was not his “intention,” saying:

“In my presentation, I was primarily annoyed by the fact that the boy band BTS covered the song ‘Fix you’ by Coldplay, which I hold in high esteem. The nationality of the seven boys should not matter – mentioning it and making the connection with a virus was completely out of line.

I have given this a lot of thought over the past few hours and understand and accept that my words racially offended many of you, especially the Asian community. That was never my intention, but I realize that, in the end, what matters is only how words are perceived – not how they were intended.”

Why the comments against BTS are so troubling

Unfortunately, this is not the first time BTS have faced xenophobia and racism. It seems that every time the band members reach a milestone in their career, there are droves of people waiting in line to launch racist attacks.

It is increasingly disheartening that the band continues to be the subject of xenophobic and racist remarks. As violence against Asians rises around the world, Matuschik’s racism toward BTS feels especially pointed and dangerous.

In the U.S. alone, Stop AAPI Hate and Asian Americans Advancing Justice have “reported more than 3,000 anti-Asian attacks” since March 2020 according to USA Today.

By writing off Matuschik’s remarks as an “opinion,” the radio station and Matuschik avoid accountability for igniting hatred against Asians.

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