When Blackpink released a music video for its new song “How You Like That,” the all-female K-pop group quickly found out that something some of its international fans don’t like is having Hindi deities portrayed in a pop music context.
The fans’ uprising on social media got results, as the offending image was quietly edited out of the video June 30, although the scissoring wasn’t widely recognized until this week. Some are still demanding an apology.
The original video, featuring Blackpink’s Jennie, Jisoo, Lisa and Rosé, included a statue of the Hindu deity Ganesha. The elephant-headed god flashed in the background, while the group’s rapper Lisa performed on a velvet throne.
The Hindu god was onscreen for seconds, but the glimpse of Ganesha in the video was enough for many fans, especially in India, to express their discomfort. The group was accused of cultural appropriation, of using a sacred object as a prop and of disrespecting it by placing it on the floor.
Wrote a fan from Delhi: “No hate to the artists but our Hindu religion and Gods aren’t a toy/prop/aesthetic for pop culture music videos to use and this isn’t even the first time Hindu and Desi culture is disrespected!”
This post ignited a petition signed by over 4,500 fans demanding YG Entertainment, the group’s agency, to “take down or issue a public apology for insulting Hindu culture.” The agency was also bombarded by emails, some of which followed a fan-made template.
Four days after its release, YG Entertainment uploaded a new version of the video without the deity. “It was immediately edited when we became aware of it,” said a YG representative to the New York Times.
While the controversial scene has been removed, Tanyi Iver, who started the petition, still demands YG Entertainment an apology for “[making] fun of [Hindu] culture and [Hindu] dance forms.” The agency has yet to release a formal statement.
This is not the first incident where K-pop fans, an internet-savvy group across the globe, have pushed Korean artists to be more culturally sensitive. They have also been politically active online, most recently registering for President Trump’s Oklahoma rally with the intention of boycotting the event.
Blackpink is a South Korean girl group represented by YG Entertainment, the company also behind boy band Big Bang. Last month, their new smash “How You Like That” claimed the 24-hour views title on YouTube from BTS after setting the mark in April 2019 with “Kill This Love” (56.7 million views in the first 24 hours) and topped Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” (46 million views in the first 24 hours).
On June 29, YouTube said the “How You Like That” video, with 86.3 million views in the first 24 hours, set a new record for the biggest-ever YouTube Premiere with 1.66 million peak concurrent viewers. The view count topped the previous record-holder, BTS’ “Boy With Luv” featuring Halsey, which recorded 74.6 million views in the initial one-day period.
Variety’s senior music editor Jem Aswad tagged the three-minute track as one of the best singles of the week. “The latest from these K-pop titans is actually a sleight of hand,” she wrote. “It starts off pop, but on the chorus, the beat changes up and suddenly it’s all swagger, with some hot rapping and a grinding beat — and a much more aggro attitude than we might have come to expect.”
Watch Blackpink’s “How You Like That” — now sans any Ganesha content: