Hours after being slammed for its racially insensitive and upsetting portrayal of BTS on a new Garbage Pail Kids card, The Topps Company has issued a statement on the controversy.
When Topps announced its new Garbage Pail Kids “Shammy Awards” collection this week, fans were shocked to see the stark and alarming difference between BTS’s sticker card and the rest of the pack. While artists like Harry Styles were featured in light-hearted scenarios, the violent artwork on the “BTS Bruisers” card featured the members being attacked with a GRAMMYs trophy, sporting stitches and bandages.
Not only were BTS unnecessarily singled out on the only card featuring graphic violence, the release of the collection also came in the midst of the rising “Stop Asian Hate” movement. Activism organization Stop AAPI Hate reports the Asian American faced almost 3,800 racially-motivated attacks over the past year, believed to be increasing as a result of xenophobic sentiments surrounding the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic. Over the past few days, Asian celebrities (including 2NE1‘s CL) have been raising awareness and funds for the victims.
— CL (@chaelinCL) March 17, 2021
Upon seeing the “BTS Bruisers” card, fans and non-fans alike rallied together to demand answers and apologies from Topps—as well as action from Billboard, who promoted the collection in a recent article. Now, the company has finally responded.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Topps told consumers they “hear and understand” their complaints. After apologizing for including the “BTS Bruisers” artwork, the company went on to say that the BTS sticker card will be removed from the collection. No “Shammy Awards” packs have been printed yet, so the “BTS Bruisers” card will not enter circulation.
We hear and understand our consumers who are upset about the portrayal of BTS in our GPK [Garbage Pail Kids] “Shammy Awards” product and we apologize for including it. We have removed the BTS sticker card for the set, we have not printed any of the sticker card and it will not be available.
However, fans and consumers are not happy with Topps’s statement. Many are confused and disappointed by Topps apologizing to consumers while failing to apologize to BTS and the Asian community at large.
As an Asian, I don’t accept this “apology”. As a human too. You’re really saying our offended feelings are a mere byproduct of your “portrayal” & not something that’s a given with the violence the caricature portrayed on BTS who are Asians.Really goes to show how much dehumanized https://t.co/KhqCW9I0BZ
— ᴮᴱ 🎃 witchy アイリス (IA until my mind drifts) 🎃 ⁷ (@Shuo_wh) March 17, 2021
Dealing with this as if we’re solely upset because u talked about our favorite boyband isn’t at all effective. This lame apology isn’t enough when you were, not only disrespectful and rude, but also blatantly racist. Apologise properly to BTS and to the Asian community as a whole https://t.co/3TxwOy7jyP
— hourly jhope (@hourlyhobi) March 17, 2021
Instead of admitting genuine responsibility and wrongdoing, the statement appears to be focusing on the reaction of consumers.
This is not an apology. You’re just saying “sorry you all got upset.” There’s no accountability here nor any recognition of how harmful and hateful that drawing was. Take responsibility for what was actually happening here and apologize to the right people. https://t.co/Ut2lONTq0C
— fatima (@fatimafarha_) March 17, 2021
Here’s how you do a proper apology:
Expression of regret.
Explanation of what went wrong.
Acknowledgment of responsibility.
Declaration of repentance.
Offer of repair.
Request for forgiveness.
Please revise. https://t.co/V2vPoekhxA
— ᴮᴱStay innocent⁷ be naive but still dream big (@sarahwarrengill) March 17, 2021
Fans are also frustrated that Topps provided no clarity on how the artwork was approved for publication and whether artist Chris Meeks or any other Topps staff members will be reprimanded.
Not enough. We want, we need a proper apology. It took you almost half a day to write these freaking sentences? And how come the process of making the product was done without any objection that it was encouraging violence and discrimination? The damage has already been done.
— dee ☕🌻 (@logmyg) March 17, 2021
I won’t include the gross image here but this apology is not enough. This apology reeks of “I’m sorry YOU were offended”. The portrayal of BTS was violent & gross especially in this climate of anti-Asian violence. No one should’ve found this funny. This needs to be acknowledged https://t.co/iQ2pKLkkUy
— Rafranz⁷ (@RafranzDavis) March 17, 2021
Across social media, users are calling for a new statement from Topps with a much better apology and more action taken.
— Topps (@Topps) March 17, 2021