“We are the producers of the recently opened Broadway musical, KPOP, and we are writing to ask that you issue an apology to the cast and creators of our show for the insensitive and, frankly, offensive review written by Jesse Green,” a letter sent to NYT chairman and publisher A.G. Sulzberger and Theater Editor Nicole Herrington says, in part.
“To be clear, we respect Mr. Green’s right to be critical of the show. What we are asking you to address is the cultural insensitivity, underlying ignorance of and distaste for K-pop as a genre and what comes across as casual racism in his review,” it continues, per the New York Post. “That this would be the case in The New York Times is, frankly, astonishing.”
The letter, written by producers Tim Forbes and Joey Parnes, asks, “Is a Broadway show valid only if it is centered on and catering exclusively to a white, English-speaking audience?”
Several “KPOP” cast members also called out the review, with actor Andrew Lim taking issue with Green using the descriptor “squint-inducing.”
Lim said Green’s word choice was an act of “disrespect” and said Green should “find better words.”
“If you are not an Asian American that has been made fun of for their squinty eyes or their slanty eyes, I’m sorry, I don’t want to hear from you right now. You can take a seat,” Lim shared on Instagram.
Green’s review mostly focuses on how the show would only be entertaining for fans with some prior knowledge of the Korean pop music genre. His “squint-inducing” line references the lighting, not the actors.
“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,” Green writes.
“ … 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,” he says of the show. “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.”
Other reviews of the show were mixed, but so far, producers have only singled out The New York Times and Green for “casual racism.”
“KPOP: The Musical” is currently playing in New York’s Circle in the Square Theatre.