ARMYs took to social media to protest a disturbing illustration for BTS‘ Garbage Pail Kids card this week. The trading card—which depicts the K-pop group members as bruised, scarred, and covered in stitches—was unveiled amid a concerning spike in anti-Asian violence.
The card, which was part of the Garbage Pail Kids’ 2021 “Shammy Awards” GRAMMYs satire collection, was revealed by Topps on Tuesday, March 16. The collection included depictions of Grammy-nominated artists such as Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, Megan Thee Stallion, and of course BTS, who performed their single “Dynamite” at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, March 14. While all the cards were satirical, many social media users noted that the card for BTS was one of the only ones to include such a violent depiction. In the illustration, titled “BTS Bruisers,” each group member was portrayed as a whack-a-mole character that was hit over the head with a Grammy award.
RMYs immediately began calling out the card and its manufacturer when it was revealed on social media. Many commenters slammed its “tone-deaf” depiction, especially amid recent hate crimes and a rise in violence against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. The card itself was released on the same day that a white man killed eight people, including six Asian women, in a string of Atlanta-area spas.
Topps, the company that sells the Garbage Pail Kids cards, released a statement on Wednesday, March 17, responding to fans’ criticism. In their statement, they revealed that the card would be pulled from production and attempted to apologize for including it in the set: “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 began. “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.”
Many social media users, however, were not satisfied by the company’s response, as it did little to acknowledge and act upon the harm that was already done. As one ARMY noted on Twitter, “Why was it upsetting? Clarify that to the public, then make a proper apology to the Asian community.” The Twitter user added, “You depicted Asian public figures as badly bruised and beaten down fully knowing the growing hate against Asians is happening in your country. You are enabling hate.”