The Topps Garbage Pail Kids card depicting a violent scene with BTS has been pulled from sale.
This week, BTS fans, a.k.a. ARMYs, made #RacismIsNotComedy the No. 1 trending topic in the world on Twitter after the Topps company debuted their latest GPK collection, “The Shammy Awards.”
In the set of cartoon sticker cards, one card illustration depicted BTS being brutally beaten with a Grammy trophy, similar to the arcade game Whack-A-Mole. The card was the most violent in the collection, with the other artists featured—from Taylor Swift to Bruno Mars—receiving more light-hearted designs, while the members of BTS were featured as bruised and in pain.
The good news is that none of the stickers had been printed yet, so no one can get their hands on the disturbing depiction of BTS.
After the social media backlash, Topps addressed the controversial depiction on Twitter. “We hear and understand our consumers who are upset about the portrayal of BTS in our GPK Shammy Awards product and we apologize for including it,” the statement read. “We have removed the BTS sticker card from the set, we have not printed any of the sticker cards and it will not be available.”
Fans on social media questioned why they would depict the BTS members being hurt in the first place, especially after reports of hate crimes against Asian American people have significantly increased over the year.
On Tuesday (March 16), a white male gunman murdered eight people at three massage parlors in Georgia. Six of the victims were Asian women.
Originally released in 1985, the Garbage Pail Kids are a series of gross-out parody sticker trading cards. The drawings depict characters similar to Cabbage Patch Kids dolls.
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.
While we attempted in our original article to point out that the depiction of BTS was certainly questionable, as it was considerably more brutal compared to the depiction of the other artists parodied, we were much too quiet with our criticism. 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.
Topps Garbage Pail Kids card designs typically satirize a situation or person. However, there’s nothing satirical or funny about racism or violence against already marginalized communities.
We sincerely regret publishing our original story, especially without adding deeper socio-cultural context and criticism. Even more importantly, we regret sharing the image of the BTS Topps card to begin with, as it is clear the violence depicted in the design is incredibly harmful and hurtful to BTS—who already face frequent xenophobia and racism in the West— as well as their fans, their loved ones, and the larger Asian community.
In light of many conversations we’ve had today with thoughtful folks on social media, we have decided to ultimately remove the original article we published yesterday as so as not to spread the horrifying imagery of BTS, or cause any additional harm, let alone promote the card collection. While we never want to brush a mistake under the rug, whether it’s someone else’s controversy or our own failure, we believe it’s important the images published yesterday do not receive any further public spotlight.
Finally, we apologize to BTS for sharing the harmful and abhorrent image. We also apologize to their fans and our readers. We are listening, and while it’s easy to say “we promise to do better,” we genuinely take issues like this seriously. It is our commitment to remain accountable, always and no matter what.