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Topps Apologizes for Card That Depicts BTS Members as Beaten and Bruised

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Many slammed the card as disgusting and insensitive, especially amid increased reports of hate crimes against Asians.


BTS Sticker Card Causes Outrage

Topps, an American company known for manufacturing trading cards and other collectibles, apologized Wednesday for debuting a collection of sticker cards that depicted violence against the massively popular K-pop band, BTS.

On Tuesday, Topps unveiled its Grammy-themed “Garbage Pail Kids” collection titled “The Shammy’s.” It featured satirical illustrations of performers like Taylor Swift, Megan Thee Stallion, Billie Eilish, and Harry Styles, but it also included a depiction of BTS that came in two similar versions labeled “BTS Bruisers” and “Bopping K-pop.”

The illustration showed the South Korean boyband as whack a mole characters that were bruised and scarred after being beaten with a Grammy.

The cartoon follows accusations that the Grammys exploited the band for ratings by having them perform near the end of the show Sunday night, which caused more frustration from fans when BTS lost the award in the Pop Duo/ Group category to Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande’s “Rain on Me.”

#RacismIsNotComedy Trends Amid Outrage

Internet users were quick to condemn the design as disgusting and insensitive, especially amid increased reports of hate crimes against Asians. Several people also noted that none of the other cards in the collection include such violent imagery.

The outrage eventually prompted the hashtag #RacismIsNotComedy to trend on Twitter.

Apology Prompt More Outrage

We hear and understand our consumers who are upset about the portrayal of BTS in our GPK Shammy Awards product and we apologize for including it,” Topps said in a statement Wednesday. “We have removed the BTS sticker card from the set, we have not printed any of the sticker card and it will not be available.”

Still, many felt the apology was inadequate since Topps did not address why the illustration was upsetting to people or apologize specifically to BTS and the Asian community.

Many have even pointed to a much stronger apology from Pop Crush, a publication that previously reported on the cards without properly addressing the brutal depiction of the band.

Pop Crush apologized to BTS, fans, and readers in a lengthy statement. It also deleted its original article after saying it was too quiet in its criticism of the card. “We completely failed, and for that, we are sorry,” it said.

“We need to be clear, now and moving forward: BTS’ card design was not “questionable” — it was violent and racist, and completely inappropriate, especially in light of the horrifying recent increase in violence and hate toward Asians and the Asian American community,” the statement continued.

“Topps Garbage Pail Kids card designs typically satirize a situation or person. However, there’s nothing satirical or funny about racism or violence against already marginalized communities.”

“We sincerely regret publishing our original story, especially without adding deeper socio-cultural context and criticism. Even more importantly, we regret sharing the image of the BTS Topps card to begin with, as it is clear the violence depicted in the design is incredibly harmful and hurtful to BTS—who already face frequent xenophobia and racism in the West— as well as their fans, their loved ones, and the larger Asian community.

Many internet users are now also calling on Billboard to apologize since it featured an affiliate link in its article on the cards, which was later edited to remove its description of the image.

See what others are saying: (Vice) (Los Angeles Time) (CNN)

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Joe Rogan Holds Spot As Top Podcaster on Spotify in 2022

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Earlier this year, some threatened to boycott the platform over Rogan and the health misinformation he shared on his show. 


For the third year in a row, “The Joe Rogan Experience” was the number one podcast on Spotify, the company revealed in its yearly “Wrapped” feature on Wednesday. 

“The Joe Rogan Experience” became exclusive to Spotify in 2020 after the host signed a lucrative deal with the audio streaming platform. “Call Her Daddy” by Alex Cooper, also a Spotify exclusive, followed Rogan on the charts. “Anything Goes With Emma Chamberlain,” which will become exclusive to the service next year, came in third.

Rogan’s podcast has made several headlines over the last year as the podcaster faced backlash from medical professionals and major musicians for touting COVID-19 misinformation. Niel Young asked to have his music removed from Spotify in protest of the company’s deal with Rogan, and several other artists soon followed. 

Just a few days later, several clips resurfaced of Rogan using a racial slur. Many called to boycott Spotify for platforming Rogan, but his popularity did not seem to fade by the year’s end. 

There are over four million podcasts available to stream on Spotify and over the last year, the platform has expanded into new markets. 

It also has started launching podcasts from several high-profile figures, including Kim Kardashian’s “The System,” and Meghan Markle’s “Archetypes.” Both of those debuted mid-year and did not crack the annual top-five list.

See what others are saying: (Spotify) (Variety) (Forbes)

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Comedian Gives David Beckham Ultimatum: Exit Role at Qatar World Cup Or £10K in Donations Gets Shredded

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“Not just the money, but also your status as a gay icon will be shredded,” Joe Lycett said in a video.


Pressure on Beckham

Comedian Joe Lycett posted a video on Sunday saying he would shred £10,000 if soccer star David Beckham does not pull out of his deal to be an ambassador for the Qatar World Cup. 

Ahead of the event, which kicks off on Nov. 20, many have been raising concerns about human rights abuses in Qatar. The country criminalizes homosexuality, and it can be punishable by death. 

Beckham’s deal to represent the country was reportedly worth £10 million, and many are frustrated that the athlete took such a big check from a country with known anti-LGBTQ laws. In his video, Lycett noted that Beckham has been openly supportive of his gay fans and was the first premiere footballer to do a photoshoot with a gay magazine. 

In an attempt to get Beckham to bow out of his role, Lycett, who is pansexual, offered an ultimatum.  

“If you end your relationship with Qatar, I’ll donate this £10,000 of my own money, that’s a grand for every million you’re reportedly getting, to charities that support queer people in football,” he stated. “However, if you do not, at midday next Sunday, I will throw this money into a shredder.” 

“Not just the money, but also your status as a gay icon will be shredded.” 

Beckham’s Reputation “Shredded”

Lycett said he would livestream the money shredding if that’s what the situation comes to. If Beckham does not back out of the World Cup, Lycett noted he will be forced to “commit what might be a crime,” as destroying legal tender is against the law in the U.K.

“Although even then, I reckon I’ll get off more lightly than I would if I got caught whacking off a lad in Doha,” Lycett quipped.

Lycett then linked to a website titled https://benderslikebeckham.com/, which includes a written version of his message, as well as a countdown to when he will either shred the cash or send it to a non-profit. 

Lycett is not the only U.K star to raise concerns about issues in Qatar. Singer Dua Lipa shut down speculation that she would be performing at the World Cup over the weekend by saying she has no intentions to visit the country until “it has fulfilled all the human rights pledges it made when it won the right to host” the event. 

Other stars, however, including BTS’s Jung Kook, are slated to take the stage. 

See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Hollywood Reporter) (BBC News)

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Federal Judge Dismisses Dave Portnoy’s Lawsuit Against Insider

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The online personality called the decision “disappointing” but not “overly surprising.” 


Lawsuit Tossed

A federal judge in Massachusetts dismissed a defamation lawsuit Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy filed against Business Insider, several outlets reported on Monday. 

According to a report from The Washington Post, Chief Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV decided that Portnoy did not successfully prove that the news outlet acted with “actual malice” or “reckless disregard for the truth” when it published two articles about his sexual relationships. 

The first article, published in Nov. 2021, detailed stories from women who said they had “violent” and traumatizing sex with Portnoy. A second piece was published in Feb. 2022 and includes sources who said Portnoy filmed sexual encounters without consent.

Portnoy has repeatedly denied the allegations and maintained that the sexual encounters were consensual and positive. He sued Insider in February following the publication of the second article. 

Per The Post, Saylor tossed the complaint because it did “not allege that Insider’s anonymous sources were fake, or that the articles misrepresented what the women told [Insider’s reporters].”

“Furthermore, plaintiff admits that Insider investigated its first article for months, requested an interview with him, sought his comment before publication, included his denials, and hyperlinked to his news conference and his lawyer’s full denial letter,” the judge’s decision continued. 

Saylor also noted that Insider corroborated their sources’ claims with photos, texts, medical reports, receipts, and accounts from their friends. 

While Portnoy argued that these stories were an invasion of privacy as they pertained to his private sex life and the women involved were not his employees, Insider held that their claims were relevant.

“When a rich, famous, and powerful person uses their power in a way that is harmful to other people, it is newsworthy,” Nicholas Carlson, Insider’s Global Editor-in-Chief, previously wrote in an editor’s note. 

Saylor largely agreed with that, saying that issues of consent and power are part of “legitimate public interest,” including in instances that arise outside “the employment context.”

Portnoy Responds

An Insider spokesperson told The Post that the outlet is “pleased and gratified that the judge dismissed his complaint.”

“We knew from the start that our reporting was careful, fair, and accurate, but it’s gratifying to see that validated in court,” Julia Black, one of the reporters named in the lawsuit, tweeted in response to the news. 

For his part, however, Portnoy has criticized the judge’s decision, calling it “disappointing” but not “overly surprising.” 

“Every single lawyer said it was an uphill battle, every legal expert said it was an uphill battle, that it’s almost impossible for a public figure to prove defamation,” he said in a video posted to Twitter. “The laws are stacked against me.”

Portnoy said that he turned in texts and other evidence he believed would prove the sexual encounters were positive but claimed “the judge didn’t even really look at the evidence.” 

He later read an excerpt from the judge’s decision that said Portnoy “can’t seek to prove actual malice by challenging statements that defendants did not publish.” 

“In other words: Business Insider did not publish any of my shit, I can’t talk about it, it’s not part of the case,” Portnoy explained. “It’s inadmissible.” 

He said he could appeal the decision if he wanted, but added he was not optimistic about how that would turn out for him. He floated the idea of suing the sources themselves, noting he thinks he would stand a better chance in such a case.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Post)

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