While I was a big fan of BTS’s Suga’s “Daechwita”, I had not got around to listening to the whole mixtape yet, as I’ve been swamped recently. As such, apparently I missed out on him sampling the speech of cult leader/mass murderer Jim Jones on the track “What Do You Think?“.
If you don’t know who Jim Jones was, please Google him to at least get the basics because I think we can all agree he was unimaginably terrible.
Thing is, people apparently knew Suga was going to do this and didn’t care.
So this doesn’t come off as some kind of mistake or anything but purposeful on his part. My only question is for what?
In order to not let my initial reaction take hold of everything, I took a step back and tried to understand. I’ve read a bunch of threads defending/explaining the speech’s inclusion, but even putting outrage aside, none of them make all that much sense. References to an anti-South Korean connection for Jim Jones don’t track for me as “What Do You Think?” doesn’t come off as pro-South Korea nor does it really push back against any of the messaging of Jim Jones’ beliefs. The context does matter, absolutely, and if the song was talking about cult-like behavior as a negative or rallying against anti-blackness or something of that sort then it wouldn’t be as much of an issue. However, the song is primarily talking about Suga’s success and status, and stans justifying this by saying it’s him likening the public to a cult doesn’t seem borne out in the lyrics. Especially so when BTS have actually touched on that topic where it has made sense to me before like with “Pied Piper“.
So in the end, I don’t see it as Suga utilizing the speech in order to make some kind of point, but rather it seems Jim Jones was an aesthetic (perhaps as a representation of anger), and that could leave people understandably pissed off. I would definitely like to hear his explanation of this regardless, because I’ve listened to a lot of fucked up shit growing up listening to hip-hop and metal but when I’ve found that palatable it usually followed a theme, while this just seemed truly bizarre.
Of course, that’s just the way I see it. Perhaps stans are correct and what he intended was something more noble, but even they have to admit that the best-case interpretation has a rather tenuous logic and requires a somewhat significant amount of reaching, so at the very least it’s insulting to invalidate the feelings of those who do feel offended by Jim Jones’ inclusion in “What Do You Think?”. It all just comes off as tone deaf. The discussions about what the appropriate backlash is doesn’t matter to me all that much, but I think it’s understandable that people are upset by this because he made it quite easy for that to happen.