South Korean boy band BTS made history on Sunday as the first K-pop and all-Asian musical group to perform at the Billboard Music Awards. They also won the Top Social Artist award for the second year in a row.
It’s a huge deal, especially since the Billboard Music Awards have primarily been about the American music industry. Asians are severely under-represented, and although artists like Bruno Mars, Nicole Scherzinger and members in numerous famous American bands are of Asian descent, the ‘Asian identity’ has never truly been highlighted at the awards.
BTS’s performance, which was executed with disciplined, precise choreography and not a lustrous hair out of place, was hailed as “stunning” by Billboard. The crowd’s deafening reaction alone was a review itself. But because this world isn’t perfect, there were some who hurled racist comments at the group on social media.
“Who are these Asians and why does it seem like the entire audience knows who they are,” one Twitter user asked, seemingly unaware of the underlying racist tone in his tweet. Another salty keyboard warrior commented: “K-pop is still irrelevant, nobody in [the] States is gonna listen to a Korean song just because BTS won an award.”
Many of these tweets have been deleted; in a few cases, the Twitter accounts were suspended.
yea this is why we need asian representation here, people aren’t used to seeing talented asians succeed in the music industry pic.twitter.com/raEUAzZHHO
— vs (@etherealfool) May 22, 2017
But let’s not waste time on the negativity. Instead, draw your attention to the many American celebrities who lost their figurative sh*t after discovering – or even luckier, meeting – the members of BTS.
Among them is supermodel Tyra Banks, who rounded up the band at the awards for a few photos.
“Last night my heart swelled up with pride every time the crowd at the @BBMAs yelled like crazy for @bts.bighitofficial!” Banks wrote. “It’s major for so MANY reasons. The world is celebrating 7 beautiful, sexy, talented, and fun-loving Asian men and their fierce, fine talent. These seven talented Singing Smizers made me part of their #BTSArmy for life! I can’t wait to see their careers blow up to even more stratospheric heights! The world has been waiting for them and didn’t even know it. Get ready everybody, KPOP is about to take over the USA and the rest of the world. The screams heard around the world will be deafening. Music is universal and love is universal!”
BTS’s greatest celebrity fan right now is arguably John Cena, who earlier this year declared that he was a fan. The wrestler also posted a video on Twitter recently, responding to the band asking whether he was part of the Army (it’s what BTS fans call themselves). Speaking in Korean, he said that he is.
— John Cena (@JohnCena) May 18, 2018
— John Cena (@JohnCena) May 21, 2018
BTS’s famous fans also include Ansel Elgort, Jared Leto, Zedd, Taylor Swift, The Chainsmokers, John Legend and Halsey. More evidence below.
— JARED LETO (@JaredLeto) November 20, 2017
— John Legend (@johnlegend) May 21, 2018
— THE CHAINSMOKERS (@TheChainsmokers) November 20, 2017
— h (@halsey) May 24, 2017
🇰🇷+🇺🇸= ❤️ pic.twitter.com/cdnr0bHBhC
— Ansel Elgort (@AnselElgort) November 20, 2017
— CHARLI XCX (@charli_xcx) August 14, 2017
@BTS_twt hi guys. I hear u wanna collaborate with me. Let’s do it. 🙂
— Zedd (@Zedd) November 17, 2017
— DNCE (@DNCE) June 5, 2017
— Tracee Ellis Ross (@TraceeEllisRoss) December 1, 2017