The David Choe Rape Controversy: Netflix, ‘Beef’ Producers, A24 Under Fire for Silence
‘Star Trek: Section 31’ Starring Michelle Yeoh Gets Movie Order From Paramount+
“Asian Americans recorded the fastest population growth rate among all racial and ethnic groups in the United States, study finds.”
While this statistic may seem optimistic, there’s more to the story. The growth of the Asian American population in the U.S. has occurred in tandem with increased reports of discrimination and violence since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.
As our community grows, we are getting louder, we are telling our authentic stories…and we are making news headlines.
Welcome to Crushing the Myth, a weekly newsletter that breaks down the latest AAPI news & newsmakers.
📰 The Headlines
Netflix, ‘Beef’ Producers, A24 Under Fire for Silence Amid David Choe Rape Story Controversy — In a 2014 podcast episode recently resurfaced by journalist Aura Bogado, the artist and actor claimed to have sexually assaulted a woman who was giving him a massage. He has since apologized multiple times and says he made up the story.
Beef premiered on Netflix on April 6 to near-universal acclaim (98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), with critics and viewers alike raving about the dark comedy series’ bold yet nuanced storytelling about two strangers locked in an escalating blood feud and the magnetic performances of stars Steven Yeun and Ali Wong.
But less than two weeks later, the show is losing some of its luster thanks to a resurfaced controversy involving co-star David Choe and the lack of a response from the companies and creative team behind the A24-produced series.
In 2014, Choe, a visual artist who was then best known as the muralist who painted Facebook’s headquarters in exchange for stock (making him a reported $200 million), was co-host of a podcast with adult film actress Asa Akira. In one episode, he says that he once compelled a masseuse to perform oral sex on him. At one point, he calls himself a “successful rapist,” but at another he says, “I just want to make it clear that I admit that that’s rapey behavior, but I am not a rapist.”
The anecdote was first picked up by writer Melissa Stetten on the now-defunct website XOJane and gained further traction through a BuzzFeed writeup. Shortly thereafter, Choe claimed that his story about the masseuse was art. “I’m sorry if anyone believed that the stories were fact,” he wrote. “They were not!” The controversy surfaced again in 2017 after Choe was commissioned to paint a mural on The Bowery in downtown Manhattan. Other artists came together in protest: “Our aim is to provoke widespread rejection of the continued normalization of rape culture by bringing visibility to the topic,” said organizer Jasmine Wahi at the time.
Choe then issued a more thorough apology on his Instagram account: “How does one apologize for a lifetime of doing wrong? Through my past three years of recovery and rehabilitation, I’ve attempted to answer that question through action and understanding,” he wrote. “In a 2014 episode of DVDASA, I relayed a story simply for shock value that made it seem as if I had sexually violated a woman. Though I said those words, I did not commit those actions. It did not happen. I have ZERO history of sexual assault. I am deeply sorry for any hurt I’ve brought to anyone through my past words. Non-consensual sex is rape and it is never funny or appropriate to joke about. I was a sick person at the height of my mental illness, and have spent the last 3 years in mental health facilities healing myself and dedicating my life to helping and healing others through love and action. I do not believe in the things I have said although I take full ownership of saying them. … I am truly sorry for the negative words and dark messages I had put out into the world.”
‘Star Trek: Section 31’ Starring Michelle Yeoh Gets Movie Order From Paramount+ — Yeoh will return as Emperor Philippa Georgiou in a 'Star Trek: Discovery' spinoff.
Paramount+ has ordered Section 31 as an original movie, with Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh set to reprise her role as Emperor Philippa Georgiou, a character she played in Star Trek: Discovery.
In the film, Georgiou “joins a secret division of Starfleet tasked with protecting the United Federation of Planets and faces the sins of her past.” The project will be written by Craig Sweeny and directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi, both Discovery veterans.
“I’m beyond thrilled to return to my Star Trek family and to the role I’ve loved for so long,” said Yeoh. “Section 31 has been near and dear to my heart since I began the journey of playing Philippa all the way back when this new golden age of Star Trek launched. To see her finally get her moment is a dream come true in a year that’s shown me the incredible power of never giving up on your dreams. We can’t wait to share what’s in store for you, and until then: live long and prosper (unless Emperor Georgiou decrees otherwise)!”
Executive producer Alex Kurtzman said: “All the way back in 2017, before the first season of Star Trek: Discovery had even aired, Michelle had the idea to do a spinoff for her character, Philippa Georgiou. She broke new ground as one of the first two women onscreen in the pilot to usher in a new age of Trek, and now, six years later, Section 31 finally arrives on the heels of her latest groundbreaking win. Everyone on Team Trek couldn’t be more thrilled to have our legendary friend return home to us as we expand our storytelling into new and uncharted corners of the Trekverse. Long live Emperor Georgiou; long live Michelle Yeoh!”
Disney’s casting of ‘Lilo & Stitch’ character prompts colorism debate — Native Hawaiian fans say Disney has a track record of whitewashing characters, and they’re not happy with the reimagining of Nani as a lighter-skinned, biracial actor in the classic movie’s upcoming adaptation.
Following news that “Lilo & Stitch” will be the latest Disney classic to get the live-action treatment, fans of the 2002 animated movie were abuzz with predictions and desires for who would take on the iconic Native Hawaiian roles. Many were left disappointed Friday when Disney announced the casting of a biracial, light-skinned actor in the role of Nani, Lilo’s older sister, who in the original movie was drawn with darker skin, black hair and ethnic features.
“Not being Indigenous or from a PoC community, it may not be easy to see a problem with this casting, but within our communities this is a big issue,” one person tweeted. “Nani is Indigenous Hawaiian with strong features and dark skin, this casting is blatant colorism.”
Disney did not respond to a request for comment.
In the 2024 adaptation of “Lilo & Stitch,” Nani will be played by 22-year-old Sydney Elizabeth Agudong, who is multiracial with Hawaiian ancestry. Newcomer Maia Kealoha will play 6-year-old Lilo, and Zach Galifianakis has joined the cast in an unspecified role.
While some celebrated the casting, many Native Hawaiian fans said they were hoping for an actor who wasn’t white-passing and whose features reflected those of the island’s Indigenous population.
🪦 Rest in Peace
K-pop star Moon Bin — Global fans reacted with shock and grief over the death of 25-year-old K-pop star Moon Bin, a member of the popular boy band Astro.
Chinese acrobat Sun — A Chinese acrobat fell to her death during an aerial performance with her husband in Anhui province, China.
🌱 On the Rise
Italian and Japanese food on Instagram — Japanese cuisine came second with approximately 20 million tags on Instagram, with sushi being the fourth most popular meal type in the world.
India as world’s most populous country by mid-2023, says UN — The UN Population Fund’s World Population Dashboard indicated that India’s population will consist of more than 1.428 billion individuals, exceeding China.
Asian and Black representation in film and TV — TV series with at least one Asian series regular increased 2%, from 2021’s 36.5% to 2022’s 38.4%. Asian main title cast and directors in film increased by 7.7% and 5.9% respectively.
Ali Wong and Bill Hader’s relationship — Ali Wong and Bill Hader are dating again, as the Barry star's rep confirmed to Page Six the two are back together after reportedly splitting due to busy schedules last fall.
📽️ What We’re Watching
✍️, Lea @ Crushing the Myth