Jimmy Kimmel has come under fire after trying to crack a joke comparing BTS to covid-19.
Too many jokes. Jimmy Kimmel has been at the heart of a controversy for a few days after comparing the BTS group to covid-19. The American host received actress Ashley Park, star of the Netflix phenomenon series, “Emily in Paris”, on Thursday. Of American and South Korean origin, the young woman explained that she had the chance to cover the hit “Dynamite” in an episode of season 2, telling how happy she was to have had this opportunity, even hoping that in an “alternate universe,” the singers stumble across this stage one day. And that’s what happened. Two of the BTS members, RM and V, each shared the video on Instagram, causing the actress to be amazed. She told Jimmy Kimmel that she was in shock upon discovering these messages, “I couldn’t get up, think, talk anymore.” “And I wondered if that was it, the feeling of his body being in shock? My sinuses, my head… I’ve never felt this before. I had never been such a fan of someone,” she continued under the cautious eyes of the American host, who a few minutes earlier had already made fun of BTS fans who, according to him, ” are definitely still camping in our parking lot waiting for them to come back on our show” and can “attack” at any time.
But Ashley Park then indicated that what she had taken for too much emotion was actually linked to the fact that she had contracted the covid-19, “that’s why I was in the fog”. The story could have ended there if Jimmy Kimmel had not then continued by comparing BTS to the virus. “They are both very dangerous, you are lucky to have made it out alive,” he said, then not letting his guest answer him. It is this sentence, in particular, which today causes the scandal, the fans of the group demanding an apology from the American. And for good reason, it comes in a climate that is still just as tense for the Asian community, victim since the start of the pandemic of an increase in racist attacks. The controversy then took an even more serious turn when the American magazine Billboard’s website chose to do an article not on the words of Jimmy Kimmel but on those of Ashley Park, headlining: “According to Ashley Park, the symptoms present after having interacted with BTS are similar to those of covid-19”. The actress herself reacted to this article on Twitter. “I wasn’t on my phone today and rarely go on Twitter or read the headlines. Thanks to those who notified me. I have decided to stay positive and I will try to continue to do so every day,” she wrote after “liking” a tweet demanding an apology from Billboard. The magazine did not react but changed its title and the wording of its article.
I wasn’t on my phone really today, and I hardly ever go on Twitter or read headlines. Grateful to those who keep me aware. Choosing positivity is something I’ll continue to try to maintain every day. love to you all
— Ashley Park (@ashleyparklady) January 22, 2022
In March 2021, Ashley Park spoke in tears about anti-Asian racism after a killing in Atlanta in Asian massage parlors that left 8 people dead. “Racism starts at a very small level. It starts when you start nicknaming a virus that is hurting the world the “King Flu virus” (…). Racism begins after this stupid little joke, even uttered by your close friends,” she said on video.
BTS, regularly targeted by racist attacks
If BTS fans don’t let anything pass, it’s because the members are regularly the target of racist attacks or bad jokes. In February 2021, they had been directly targeted with insults from a German radio host, who compared the group to “a shitty virus”. “It’s not against South Korea. You can’t say I’m xenophobic, it’s just because of this boy band. I have a car that comes from there, it’s the most beautiful car. South Korea is great… except for BTS”, he had launched in particular. After a global mobilization of fans but also of close friends of the group including singer Halsey or DJ Steve Aoki, the channel ended up apologizing. The host was then ousted from his show. A few months later, it was a drawing made after the Grammy Awards ceremony that caused a scandal. It showed the seven members of the group, all covered in bruises after being beaten. This image, which was part of a collection of “Crados” cards, was unveiled on the same day as the Atlanta shootings. “We have removed the card from BTS, we have not printed any sticker cards and it will not be available for sale,” the company finally announced, saying that it had “heard and understood that its customers are angry”. Then, in August, a Dominican radio had referred to BTS as “Chinese” who did “cosmetic surgery to look like Americans”. Faced with the anger of the fans, the producer, instead of recognizing his mistake, had chained provocations evoking North Korea, or using degrading terms towards the Asian community. This scandal was even traced to the Deputy Minister of Bilateral External Relations of the Dominican Republic, who denounced discriminatory remarks under the guise of humor.
BTS spoke out in March 2021 to publicly denounce anti-Asian racism. “We remember when we faced discrimination as Asians,” the band wrote in a statement. “We were insulted for no reason and made fun of because of our appearance. We were even asked why Asians speak English. We cannot put words to the pain when one is the target of hatred and violence for such reasons. Our own experience is inconsequential compared to what has happened in recent weeks. But those experiences were enough to make us feel helpless and make us lose our self-confidence,” the members continued.
In early September, the FBI revealed new data showing that racist crimes against the Asian community jumped 70% in the United States in 2020 compared to 2019. This increase coincides with the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, which first exploded in China before affecting the whole world. At the time, Donald Trump had begun to call the disease a “Chinese virus”, blaming the community and in particular causing waves of hatred on social networks, according to a study by the University of California, San Francisco .
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