South Korean megastars BTS (comprising RM, Jin, Suga, J Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook) were recently part of MTV’s Unplugged series with special performances of tracks off their newest album BE. Among these performances was also a tear-jerking cover of Coldplay’s Fix You. The performance, which gained over 12 million views in just over 2 days has been met with a warm response from viewers around the world, including Coldplay themselves.
It didn’t seem to be the case for Matthias Matuschik, however, who felt enraged over the cover as a Coldplay fan. This host for Bavarian radio station Bayern 3 went on to liken the group with a disease – specifically Corona Virus – for which he hoped there would be a vaccine soon. He didn’t stop there, though. Matuschik went on to call their cover “a blasphemy” and that BTS must go “vacation in North Korea for 20 years” for the cover, and that he doesn’t “hate South Korea, he has a Korean car”. The car in question was Japanese, by the way.
So why should this matter to you? It should matter because this is not the first time Asian artists have been openly disrespected. It won’t be the last either. A fan of the group happened to be listening in, and shared the video to Twitter, which has since gained over a million views. ARMY’s came together to write to the radio station, demanding an apology, as they rightfully should. The following statements released by the radio station and the host himself, make such words out to be opinions. Racism is not an opinion. If anything, their releases enabled his actions, and as people in the media with a wide outreach, we know we are capable of doing better than that.
It’s 2021, and racism has not increased, it is just being filmed. What would happen if this fan was not tuned in? The host would go on to make such comments, face no backlash, and in turn also encourage his listeners to believe that thinking this way is A – OK. It goes on to prove that any level of success, fame or philanthropy does not protect you from being a victim of xenophobia. The GRAMMY-nominated artists still stand at risk of being seen as nothing but their race, something their western peers and collaborators may never experience.
A spike in hate crimes against Asians in the last few months has seen over two thousand victims in America itself, so such comments are never just comments, and it is important to consider the system of beliefs behind it. Especially with a global pandemic, the ‘blame’ of a disease being put on a single community, opinions are not just opinions. And if they are, then we are responsible for them.
In the statements following the first, Matuschik went on to say that his strong feelings towards the cover came from a place of being a devout fan of Coldplay, and he would have had the same reaction if it was a German band covering the song. It seems fit to remind readers that covering a Coldplay song is not just a performance, but a process. Artists require due permission from the band and their management to use their songs in public domain, without which BTS covering Fix You would not be possible.
Instead, the host went on to pass on the blame to BTS fans, accusing them of twisting his words out of context, and dubbing them as fanatic followers of the K Pop group, when in reality, a huge chunk of these fans are people of colour, people who have constantly come together in support against global issues and therefore had a right to call him out. An apology at the end of the day is just that – an apology. Matuschik still has his job, still has his platform.
This incident is not the first and it may not be the last, and for artists like the Dynamite hitmakers, they will still go on their way of making art and sharing it with the world. Their messages and music to fans have always borne the theme of hope and support, and sometimes, that is all you rely on. This was seen moreso during the last year when Dynamite itself was released as something uplifting for their fans. BTS is not what such anchors reduce them to, they never will be.