The New York Times Defends Critic’s Review Of “KPOP” After Being Called Out For “Racism”

Previously, cast and producers called out the critic for using racially insensitive language.

The New York Times has defended one of its writers’ reviews that have been accused of racism.

Recently, The New York Times published a review of the Broadway show KPOP. It was written by Chief Theater Critic Jesse Green. Based on the title alone, “In ‘KPOP,’ Korean Pop and Broadway Meet (Too) Cute,” readers could expect that the critique of the show was going to be anything but complimentary.

‘A lot of people come to these things and they don’t even understand the language,’ says Harry, a filmmaker who passes for the villain in the noisy yet skimpy new musical ‘KPOP.’ ‘So what are they watching for?’

Good question.

For the record, the answer provided by Tiny, a member of a Korean pop group called RTMIS, is delivered, unlike a lot of the show, in English: ‘Perfection, Mr. Harry. OK?’

And it’s true that if you enjoy the precision-drilled dancing, meticulous melisma and auto-tuned sentiments that have turned K-pop into a worldwide sensation over the past 10 years, you are likely to be among those cheering the musical’s Broadway incarnation, which opened on Sunday at Circle in the Square.

But those who aren’t hard-core fans of the genre or don’t understand Korean — let alone those who saw the radically different and far superior Off Broadway version in 2017 — will have a harder time enjoying this one. For them, the musical is less an eye-opener than an ear-pounder, assiduously drowning out any ambitions it may once have had to be more.

— Jesse Green via The New York Times

Asian American actor Abraham Lim, who appears in KPOP, reposted a quote from the article, describing the show as “squint-inducing.” He called out the writer for using language with racist connotations about a show with a predominately Asian cast.

By then, if you are not a fan, you may feel worn out by the aggressive mimicry of the K-pop performance style, not just in the mostly electronic arrangements but also in the minutely detailed choreography by Jennifer Weber, the squint-inducing lighting by Jiyoun Chang and the hundreds of can-you-top-this costumes by Clint Ramos and Sophia Choi. In that environment it’s hard to say whether Brad’s ‘Halfway’ and MwE’s ‘Mute Bird’ — acoustic songs simply staged and feelingly delivered — are actually lovely or merely a relief.

— Jesse Green via The New York Times

Lim also posted a detailed video response to Green’s review. He spoke about the racist and xenophobic undertones of the review.

I also want to say that when you can’t intelligently presume that there will be some Korean sprinkled in throughout a show called K-POP… It stands for Korean, then that’s just dumb. Lastly, with regards to that comment, I don’t care what element you were referring to when you say ‘squinty eye,’ it’s… When you’re talking about a show that’s a first of its kind, that is a wholly original Broadway musical that is about a Korean story that is comprised of a mostly Asian or Asian American cast… You can find better words.

— Abraham Lim

Lim’s co-star in KPOP and former U-KISS member Kevin Woo reposted the video. He also added his own response to The New York Times critic.

| @kevinwoo_official/Instagram

While a review might claim that people were not “enjoying a show,” Woo witnessed hundreds enthusiastically reacting throughout it. One can only presume, based on the context, that Woo is also tweeting about Green’s review considering the critic wrote, “But those who aren’t hard-core fans of the genre or don’t understand Korean — let alone those who saw the radically different and far superior Off Broadway version in 2017 — will have a harder time enjoying this one.”

KPOP producers Tim Forbes and Joey Parnes published a letter to The New York Times, dissecting theater critic Jesse Green’s problematic review. While the two demanded an apology…

Mr. Green’s choice of words to critique a work created by primarily by API artists plays to harmful stereotypes and the historic infantilization of Asian people in media, immediately devaluing and diminishing them. That he doesn’t like… this genre is his prerogative as a critic, but he appears to deny their very legitimacy as part of a Broadway musical, an implicit assertion of traditional white cultural supremacy.

— Tim Forbes and Joey Parnes

The New York Times did anything but. Instead, they defended Green.

While critic Green declined to comment to the press, The New York Times PR shop defended him in a statement to Confider. They stated that after meeting with the standards department, it was agreed upon that his review of KPOP was fair and not in any way racist.

We saw the open letter written about The Times’s review of KPOP and quickly convened a discussion among editors and members of our standards department. This group was in agreement that Jesse’s review was fair. More importantly, we wholly disagree with the argument that Jesse’s criticism is somehow racist. We always welcome feedback and reaction to our journalism, and have conveyed a similar reply to the producers who wrote the open letter.

— The New York Times PR

Despite The New York Times defending Green, Confider pointed out that he has a record now of insensitive and arguably racist reviews of POC shows. Last month, A Raisin in the Sun star Tonya Pinkins wrote a long letter to him after he viewed the show via Medium.

Jesse, you did not bring to the theater an open mind and respect for our artistry. You came to compare our work to what you like, imagine or have seen of Black women in your past. I am so much greater than your limited imagination. All Black women are.

— Tonya Pinkins

| Medium

Additionally, Abraham Lim continued to express his disappointment with The New York Times upon their decision. He posted his reaction in a series of tweets below.

Read more regarding the situation below.

Actors Kevin Woo And Abraham Lim Call Out The New York Times For Allegedly “Racist” Review Of “KPOP”

Source: Confider

What's Happening Around The World