Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel drew online criticism after comparing “BTS fever” to COVID-19 during an interview with actor Ashley Park on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
Social media users berated Kimmel for what they perceived as his implication that being a fan of BTS is as dangerous as the current pandemic that has killed millions worldwide.
Kimmel made several jokes about BTS’ fans, commenting on how “they are absolutely crazed for these guys.” After Park mentioned the term “ARMY,” Kimmel said in jest that she has to be “careful with an army, because they can attack.”
Park said she considers herself to be an ARMY, but did not realize “how much of an ARMY” she was until she covered “Dynamite” for the popular Netflix series.
The actor then talked about her excitement when she found out that BTS members RM and V shared clips of her cover on their personal Instagram accounts.
She added that later in the day, she “couldn’t think, couldn’t talk and couldn’t get up” and felt like she was going “into shock.” She initially attributed what she was feeling to the Instagram discovery, but she later found out that she was actually experiencing symptoms of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
When Kimmel asked if Park thought “it was BTS fever,” she answered, “Yes.” Kimmel then declared: “They’re both very dangerous. You’re lucky to come out of those alive.”
Commenters on YouTube have blasted the talk show host, particularly for his “BTS fever” joke which many claimed to be inappropriate and racist as Asians have been constantly accused of spreading COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
“To casually call passionate fans ‘crazy’ or that they ‘can attack’ is not it,” one user wrote. “Army only want BTS to be respected in the way that they deserve, that’s it. Just because we call out underlying racism or xenophobia openly does not mean we ‘attack.’ It’s called holding people accountable.”
“When Jimmy, a white celebrity, makes an offensive ‘joke’ about Asians in front of an Asian woman, comparing a group of Asian men to a deadly virus that spread xenophobia around the world after being discovered in Asia, he doesn’t get to say, ‘This was a harmless joke that [he’s] sorry it offended BTS fans.’ This isn’t about BTS or ARMY; it’s about Jimmy’s belief that microaggression towards Asians is ‘funny’ and ‘a joke.’ We’re in 2022, and if you make a joke about the diversity of POC and they tell you it’s not funny in fact, it’s offensive then it wasn’t funny and was offensive,” another commenter chimed in.
On Twitter, fans are calling out Billboard over an article that wrongly attributed the “BTS fever/COVID-19” comparison to Park instead of Kimmel.