From offering to be an “emotional support Canadian” to his strong anti-racism stances, Marvel star Simu Liu’s Twitter presence is largely appreciated. However, the Asian-Canadian actor was recently the subject of intense criticism for deleting a tweet people stood by — specifically, his tweet calling out future colleague Mark Wahlberg for his history of hate crimes.
When news broke last Wednesday that Liu and Wahlberg would be co-stars in the upcoming film “Arthur The King,” Twitter users pointed out that Liu deleted his last public comment on Wahlberg in 2018, an action the actor was quick to defend.
What Simu’s tweet said
Liu condemned the 49-year-old for seeking a pardon in 2014 for his past racist assaults in 1988. At 16, Wahlberg was found guilty of physically attacking two Vietnamese men, Thanh Lam and Hoa Trinh, beating up Lam with a stick and calling them both slurs. He spent 45 days in prison. The Boston-born actor’s request for a pardon was said to be motivated by his desire to start a burger chain.
Two years after Wahlberg dropped his pardon request, Liu tweeted a critique of the actor’s actions. “Let me get this straight, Mark Wahlberg beat a helpless Vietnamese man with a stick until he passed out when he was 16, and is attempting to get the courts to grant him an official pardon on the basis that he’s ‘turned his life around?’” the “Kim’s Convenience” star wrote.
People supported Liu’s initial stance, but negatively reacted to the “Shang-Chi” lead’s decision to remove his words before working with Wahlberg.
Liu responded directly to his detractors on Twitter and Instagram, with the former citing a need to “set the stage to have progressive conversations and take positive action instead of hurling stones.”
On Instagram, he delved further into specific comments which accused him of choosing money over integrity.
“I signed on to ‘Arthur the King’ because I absolutely adored the script, which tells the beautiful story of how a dog changed the lives of four adventure racers in the forests of Ecuador,” his statement starts, before hinting his role will show positive Asian representation.
Liu then doubles down on why he thought deleting his Twitter stance was a good idea.
“Obviously it’d be pretty weird to go to work with that tweet still up. I meant what I said in the moment; I was very angry hearing about what happened,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t think there’s room to grow and work together to find an opportunity to educate and do some good, which I’m excited to do in addition to shooting the movie.”
While commenters accepted his reasoning under his Instagram post, many on Twitter still took issue with Liu’s response to the backlash.
Notably, users also pointed out what they saw as a flaw in his logic. As one user remarked, Liu’s tweet wouldn’t prevent a “progressive conversation;” if his white co-star was truly repentant and committed to anti-racism, why wouldn’t he accept valid criticism from an Asian colleague?
Although some said they still believed Liu behaved in a self-serving way, others gave him the benefit of doubt or urged people to redirect their focus on the person who actually committed the hate crimes.
Wahlberg himself has yet to weigh in on the matter. And although he apologized to one of the Vietnamese men he hurt when news about his pardon request spread, he has yet to make meaningful amends for his other hate crime, which people brought up earlier this summer following his George Floyd solidarity posts ― in 1986, a then 15-year-old Wahlberg and his friends called Black schoolchildren the n-word, yelled death threats, slurs, and threw rocks at them, according to a victim account to the Associated Press.
They were never charged for the assaults. For permanently scarring Kristyn Atwood ― a child at the time ― and her classmates, the group were handed a civil rights injunction, or as The Associated Press put it, “a stern warning.”
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