J-Hope of BTS Needs To Apologize For His Cultural Appropriation.

J-Hope of BTS Needs To Apologize For His Cultural Appropriation.

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ARMY FOR CHANGE started this petition to Bang PD and

To whom it may concern,


We are writing to you as ARMY, fans of BTS, who are very upset with Hoseok’s collaboration with Becky G, entitled “Chicken Noodle Soup,” due to the cultural appropriation featured in the video and cover art. Our hope is that this issue gets passed along to BTS/Bighit Entertainment as we would like acknowledgment and a sincere apology from not only Bighit Entertainment, but from j-hope as well for the disrespect of African/African American culture. This issue is driving fans away from the fandom and has severely harmed many fans emotionally as other fans hurl racial slurs (use of the n-word) and threats online (telling affected fans to kill themselves) at anyone speaking up and demanding action. If you choose not to read this in full, and would like short summaries of the issue, you can find them in these press articles: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/btss-j-hope-and-becky-g-chicken-noodle-backlash?mbid=social_twitter&utm_brand=tv&utm_social-type=owned&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter  and  https://okmagazine.com/photos/j-hope-bts-cultural-appropriation-cns-becky-g-video/   


In the music video, Hoseok's hair looks to be gelled and twisted into thick strands that mimic dreadlocks. While the style was not explicitly dreadlocks (e.g., RM’s pre-debut hair), it causes concern because the intent to culturally appropriate an African/African American hairstyle was there. This hairstyle, that mimics dreadlocks, is even more apparent on the cover art. The thick strands of hair along with a headband with Rastafarian colors makes it clear that the intention of this imagery was to use black culture and create a "hip-hop" aesthetic. 


RM said in an interview for his first mixtape that he realized to be "hip-hop” you don’t have to look a certain way. The outfit and set styling were more than enough to ensure the viewer understood the hip-hop vibe of this song. J-hope being a rapper, taking on a pre-existing rap song written by 2 black rappers from Harlem, was enough on its own to know that this is hip-hop. The dreads were completely unnecessary. 



The reason that this is important is that many ARMY who are black/people of color  suffer bullying and oppression because of their race and culture. For instance, in the U.S., black people with dreads or braids/cornrows are physically abused, called dirty, ghetto, and unprofessional ( https://www.vox.com/platform/amp/2018/4/18/17242788/chastity-jones-dreadlock-job-discrimination Cultural insensitivity hurts the affected communities tremendously. 


In 2017, during Mic Drop promotions, there was a similar issue regarding j-hope’s hairstyle. He had small braids either clipped to his hat or in his hair that mimicked the individual braiding style used by African/African Americans. Many ARMY emailed, tweeted, and messaged BigHit Entertainment to convey the concern over this hairstyle and it appeared the message was received because the hat/braids disappeared, yet no apology was issued. Unfortunately, it seems we did not get our point across since it’s happened again.


It is clear that Bighit Entertainment and their team has an understanding of cultural appropriation. Idol and Chicken Noodle Soup Producer Tiffany Suh said on the set of Idol, for the video featuring Nicki Minaj, Japanese figurines were used as props, which was culturally inaccurate for a K-pop music video and were swapped out for symbolic Korean props. She said and we quote, "I believe this was an important moment where we got to bring more cultural awareness and sensitivity that was not overlooked. I think my biggest strength is the deep level of understanding of cultural differences and nuances for both Korea and America."


Bighit also sent BTS to LA for AHL to get an education from legendary rappers about what rap and hip-hop are and are not. This was years before BTS had the fame, money, and resources they have now, so why does it seem like the respect for fans and black culture is backsliding? Bighit’s motto is that they are a company for artists for healing. BTS has an entire album series around loving yourself, and are global ambassadors of #EndViolence for UNICEF. RM said at the Citi Field concert to use BTS to love ourselves, but how can we believe in those words and BTS' overall message when BTS is showing us that the culture of black people doesn’t matter to them? That the feelings of black fans do not matter and there are no signs of caring to do better or learn more. In fact, over the past few days, both j-hope and Bighit  have continually promoted the song, thanked the fans, and otherwise shown no acknowledgment to this issue. How is it a band can say in front of S. Korean press they’re changing the wording of Fake Love for the AMAs because of the word ‘naega’ sounding too much like the n-word slur as to not upset anyone watching. Yet, j-hope turns around and disrespects their culture? It doesn’t make sense unless the only reason is that neither BTS nor Bighit put any real value into respecting the culture they built the band around. 


BTS and Bighit have the means to educate themselves on the nuances of cultural appropriation. This needs to be something implemented immediately. There are many videos, documentaries, news stories to watch, and black experts to listen to, and get translated by the Bighit team. There are many fans well versed in this subject area, willing to speak with those in charge so that this doesn't happen again. Anti-blackness is deeply rooted in white supremacy in America, and very prevalent in S. Korea where blackface is routinely used on TV, the n-word is used by people, and many idol groups this year alone that have culturally appropriated black hairstyles, and even more in the past decades since the birth of K-Pop. This was and is done with carelessness and also unapologetically.


Finally, we think it is also important to note that when black fans speak up about the hurt caused by cultural appropriation, they are harassed, threatened, and bullied by other ARMY on social media. BTS’ UNICEF End Violence campaign apparently missed the mark in getting through to ARMY, which is why it is immensely important for BTS themselves along with Bighit as a company to not only apologize but to stress the importance of ARMY not threatening or bullying one another when their opinions differ and to stop the racist fueled hatred against marginalized fans. 


We appreciate the time you’ve taken to read this. We truly hope BTS and Bighit do right by their black/PoC fans and issue an apology and even more importantly, learn more about cultural appropriation, especially the nuances, so they don’t do this again against any culture.


Thank You, 

ARMY for Change


If you would like to email bighit in addition to signing this petition, here’s who to contact: 

bighit@ibighit.com, community@bighitcorp.com, protect@bighitcorp.com, support@bighitshop.us, contact@benx.com, dwhite@loeb.com, support@weverse.io, columbia.publicity@sonymusic.com, info@dawbell.com, james.windle@dawbell.com, pr@pmkbnc.com, info@pmkbnc.com 



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