Aussie current affairs show The Project has come under fire following Monday night's episode after a segment recapping the 2022 Grammy awards left viewers furious.
A snippet from the annual music award ceremony in the US showed popular Korean boy band BTS performing and referenced their recent Covid infections.
But what really irritated BTS fans was a snippet of singer V motioning to sing into his hand during a Justin Bieber performance, and The Project editors adding a coughing sound and a graphic showing virus particles dispersing from his mouth.
People on social media accused the clip of being "racist," "wrong" and "encouraging Asian hate".
It is understood at least five of the seven members of the K-Pop band have suffered from a bout of coronavirus, with V the most recent to be infected, coming down with the virus in mid-February.
But when Grammys host Trevor Noah asked them all how they were feeling, they responded they're all "feeling great" and "amazing".
The Project was criticised for focusing on the band's Covid infection.
"K-Pop sensation BTS rocked in, dismissing their very recent battles with COVID-19," co-host Chrissie Swan said over the top of the footage.
Social media uproar: 'Inappropriate'
Many accused the show of "perpetuating Asian hate". It appears the post has been removed from The Project's Twitter account, however, a second and no less controversial video about BTS followed.
The Twitter post, which still appears active, notes that South Korean band members are expected to join their country's army, but fails to mention their appearance at the music awards.
"Not even the world's biggest pop stars are exempt from South Korea's military service, with all seven members of BTS 'very much expected' to serve, states a leading diplomat," the Tweet read.
In South Korea, it's mandatory for male citizens between the ages of 18 and 28 to serve in the military for up to two years.
But it's understood that the seven-man band has been reprieved of their duties until the age of 30 due to their global status.
"Out of everything they have accomplished and all things you can report you choose this?" one Twitter user fumed.
"Remove this post. Until you can be respectful to BTS and Asians in general do not use them for clicks," another demanded.
"What, you deleted your previous Grammy tweet with BTS, and you follow it up with this? They have said they are ready to serve when called, not trying to avoid it," a third pointed out.
'A racist narrative of harmful stereotypes'
The hashtag #StopAsianHate has flooded social media feeds since the start of the pandemic as concerns grow after an increase of Asian-oriented hate crimes, which many attributed to COVID-19, which originated in Wuhan, China.
In the US, anti-Asian hate crimes rose 149 per cent from 2019 to 2020, according to a study by California State University’s Center for Study of Hate and Extremism. However, the figure is thought to be much higher.
The study found in New York, for example, the percentage of anti-Asian hate crimes increased 833 per cent.
According to the New York Times, to charge a person with a hate crime in the state, prosecutors need to show the victim was targeted specifically because of race.
For many, The Project's segment which directly linked the award-winning pop band from Korea to COVID-19 "seemed to follow the stigma and narrative that the virus was caused in Asian countries," according to Koreaboo, a website dedicated to reporting on K-Pop.
"It fits a racist narrative of harmful stereotypes and, considering the severity of COVID-19, seemed tasteless and insensitive," the website said.
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