The Project has found itself at the centre of a heated social media stoush after causing massive offence with a joke about Korean boy band BTS in a recent segment.
The wildly popular band featured in a now-deleted Grammys recap segment on the Network Ten show on Monday night.
Host Chrissie Swan made a gag out of the recent COVID diagnosis of one of its members, Jungkook.
He tested positive for coronavirus in late March but was cleared to perform at this week’s Grammys after returning a negative test.
“K-pop sensation BTS dropped in, dismissing their very recent battles with COVID-19,” Swan said in a voiceover.
Grammys host Trevor Noah was shown asking the band how they were, to which all replied “great”. Then followed a clip of another band member, Kim “V” Tae-hyung, with his hand over his mouth at the ceremony.
But it is The Project’s editing of coughing sounds and virus particles over the footage that has raised the ire of BTS’ many millions of fans, crowds of whom have lashed out at the “disrespectful” segment and accused the show of racism.
The phrases ‘stop Asian hate’ and ‘apologise to BTS’ began trending worldwide on Twitter following the segment.
The Project is yet to comment publicly on the furore, but did promptly erase the segment from all its social media pages.
“Taehyung was enjoying Justin’s performance, he wasn’t spreading COVID-19. @theprojecttv Apologise to BTS!” one fan wrote.
“We’re Asian doesn’t mean we spread COVID. You should apologise to BTS and especially V,” said another.
Outraged fans have also argued The Project was being particularly unfair to BTS, given many other artists have been open about COVID diagnoses.
Most recently, British act Glass Animals was forced to skip the Grammys – even though they were nominated for best new artist – after lead singer Dave Bayley tested positive.
Many fans are continuing to demand an official apology from The Project. So far, however, the show is yet to respond to the backlash.