I am positive that at some point in the last few months, you have heard of a K-Pop group named BTS. They have become global superstars thanks to their songs that touch on societal issues, and even though they have received an immense amount of love and support here in the United States, they have also been met with some ignorant comments.
When BTS accepted the Top Social Artist award at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards (BBMAs), this was the first time that many Americans were exposed to them. BTS' fans were excited to see that the group was receiving well-deserved attention, but some people that had never heard of BTS before took to social media to complain about their presence. Most of the comments were about how the Billboard Music Awards are an American awards show and that BTS had no business being there since they are Korean. The same comments rolled around during the 2018 BBMAs when BTS won the same award. Even now, months after the BBMAs, there are still Americans making similar xenophobic comments whenever BTS performs in the U.S.
The fact that this is happening to BTS and never happened to a group like One Direction when they became popular in the United States is proof of our double standard. The only reason that there has been some pushback to the popularity that BTS has earned in the U.S. is that they are people of color. One Direction was made up of British and Irish men, the majority of which were white, and they were met with open arms in the United States. No one told them to go back to their countries and stay out of our awards shows. They were applauded for their success and became one of the most popular boy bands in the U.S.A. for multiple years. BTS is now on that path and has a growing American fanbase, but because they are Asian, they did not get the same warm welcome that One Direction got.
Instead of being proud of the fact that the United States is trying to embrace music from other countries, Americans dismiss it entirely. Since BTS' lyrics are in Korean, there is an immediate criticism of their songs being played in the U.S. People wonder why us Americans should be forced to read the English translations of their songs when they could just cater to us specifically and make music in English. This is a ridiculous request because they should not have to change so that they can feed into our laziness. Listening to BTS' music can serve as a way to expose the American public to the Korean language and Korean culture, thus making us more tolerant as a country because we gain an interest in learning about cultures other than our own.
Many Americans see music made in the United States as the pinnacle of music production and that any songs coming from another country are inferior to our own. This egotistical view is what holds us back from progressing as a society. Each country has its own musical style that should be appreciated. I think it is a good thing that we are starting to give K-Pop a chance, especially since Asians are severely underrepresented in American media.
I hope BTS continues to grow in popularity in the U.S., not only because I am a huge fan of them, but because they could begin to open the doors for other Asian artists to be heard.