Josh’s View | You don’t have to be a BTS stan to see the racist hate the group has gotten

In the midst of a year of anti-Asian hate, one German radio host went way too far in criticizing a new BTS cover


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Joshua LeBerte, Contributing Writer

South Korean boy band BTS performed their first-ever “MTV Unplugged,” on Feb. 23.

The boy band performed several songs off their November 2020 album “Be,” including the multi-platinum hit “Dynamite,” but what drew international fans’ attention is their cover of alternative band Coldplay’s song, “Fix You.”

The singers sat shoulder to shoulder with their faces hardly discernible from the pitch black. Suddenly, seven spotlights puddled the floor and softened the boys’ bodies as piano chords plucked an ambient interlude.

One by one, they sang individual verses as the shining lights jumped between those singing and those not.

All in all, the performance was packed with tight harmonies, fluttering camera movements and an impactful, orchestral bridge.

It’s no wonder fans were left starstruck by the group’s hybrid pop-rock performance.

In fact, BTS’s cover of the song became the top trending music-related video on YouTube in the United States.

The video held YouTube’s top trending spot in South Korea. Their “Be” performances held spots two through five too. Talk about a grand slam.

The adulation BTS had for the song made their version an all-out masterpiece, but not every Western listener was convinced. One outspoken radio host turned his hot take into even harsher rhetoric.

Bayern 3 is a public radio station operating in Bavaria, Germany. Weekday host Matthias Matuschik hosts an evening show for the station titled, “Matuschke – A Different Evening.”

Matuschik aired his show as he normally would on Feb. 25 and he responded to the rendition of “Fix You.”

A German BTS fan recorded his response and immediately posted it to Tiktok.

Though the statement is partially missing, the poster said Matuschik compared the boy group to the coronavirus.

“Nothing against BTS,” the shock jock said. “You cannot say I’m xenophobic because of a boy band from South Korea.”

Instead of refraining from further ignorant claims, he continued to belittle the group.

“I have a car from South Korea,” he said. “I have the nicest car ever. … [It has] six cylinders, double turbo, four wheel drive, everything.”

Matuschik continued and said the boy band bragged about doing the Coldplay cover. He called the performance “blasphemy.”

For this, you [BTS] are gonna go on vacation to North Korea for the next 20 years,” he added.

Shortly after the video’s inception, a Twitter account named BTS Updates Germany hyperlinked it onto Twitter.

The hashtag “Bayern 3 Racist” gathered 40,000 tweets within five hours of the post. And by hour seven, the hashtag climbed to number two on Twitter’s trending hashtags.

Fans committed collateral damage on Matuschik’s social media posts. All German tweets can be directly translated by clicking the link into another window.

Bayern 3 released a formal recognition of the incident, though it was nothing more than a half-hearted blog post. The post, titled “Opinion,” was no apology and all filler.

“It is the character of this program and also of the presenter to express his opinion clearly, openly and without make-up,” the station said. “In this case, in an attempt to express his opinion in an ironically exaggerated manner … he overshot his choice of words and thus hurt the feelings of BTS fans.”

The statement flatlines from here. In an effort to bolster the station’s right to publicly display opinion, it turns the point of contempt to fans who are rightly concerned with the harsh rhetoric spewed by the anchor.

The station’s statement further gets muddled in discussion of Matuschik’s acts of charity.

“The story of Matthias and his actions in the past (such as his involvement in refugee aid and his constant campaign against right-wing extremism) clearly show that he is absolutely distant from xenophobia and racism in any form,” it said.

To me, this is reinstating the jockey’s actions rather than simply issuing a formal apology. It misses the rhetoric behind every fan’s criticisms of the station.

The fact is, hateful commentary and blatant stereotypes don’t reside on party lines, and no amount of charity can save any commentator or journalist from the smite of online viewers and critics.

Nevertheless, the station said it did apologize after listener found Matuschik’s statements racist and harmful.

The amount of fans who were taken aback by Matuschik’s statements is not the most relevant variable in this equation. 

What’s important is the fact that he said what he said knowing the current political climate and how racism against Asian people has been exacerbated during the pandemic. Take for instance the cover image on German magazine Der Spiegel titled, “Made in China: When Globalization Becomes a Deadly Threat.”

The station confirmed that the situation would be dealt with in the coming days, but fans were still not having it. And I, though not a member of the BTS army, not only reason with their outrage but wholeheartedly agree with its position. 

Matuschik remained dormant across all social media platforms hours after the hashtag “Bayern 3 Racist” exploded over Twitter. 

As for Coldplay, they took to BTS’ performance with outstretched arms.

The band retweeted the unplugged performance and simply said “love.”

Despite Matuschik and nitpickers claiming nothing is ever better than the original, I appreciated, as did many BTS fans, their outpouring of love to the group.

And to the people who stand behind Matuschik in reference to America’s First Amendment or to any “freedom of speech” diluted nonsense, I have one thing to say to you: You are entitled to your opinions. You’re not entitled to hate.

I may not like K-pop music or I may love it. I may be indifferent to it. That is an opinion. 

I might believe their dancing is forced or their singing needs touching. Or I might believe their singing is entirely too overworked or forced. That’s an opinion, too.

But when Matuschik objectified Korean men to vehicles and virus statistics, that wasn’t an opinion. It was hate.