Please note that this post contains references to sexual assault and may be triggering for some. 

Steven Yeun and Ali Wong, along with Beef showrunner Lee Sung Jin, were criticised last week for their prolonged silence re: the David Choe situation. Finally, on Friday afternoon, nearly two weeks after journalist and producer Aura Bogado tweeted about David boasting about raping a Black massage therapist on a podcast in 2014, they released a brief statement: 

“The story David Choe fabricated nine years ago is undeniably hurtful and extremely disturbing. We do not condone this story in any way, and we understand why this has been so upsetting and triggering. We’re aware David has apologized in the past for making up this horrific story, and we’ve seen him put in the work to get the mental health support he needed over the next decade to better himself and learn from his mistakes.”


So they had all this time to address it, and they would no doubt have been working with public relationships experts and crisis management professionals, and in the end they came up with 76 words that have somehow made it worse. First of all, the timing isn’t great. By this point most people in media know the perceived intention behind releasing a statement on a Friday afternoon, when people are packing up for the weekend, getting ready to shut down for a couple of days rest – it feels like they were trying to bury the story, in the hopes that their explanation would be overshadowed by people not paying attention or by whatever other celebrity headline might overshadow their story. Not unlike the way Reese Witherspoon announced her divorce a few weeks ago, except of course the only people who would be affected by Reese and Jim Toth ending their marriage would be their family, as opposed to the harm that David Choe inflicted on a greater community in perpetuating rape culture and anti-Black racism, and the compound harm that Steven, Ali, and Sung Jin contributed to with their silence. But the point here is the strategy behind the timing of the statement – the timing of it doesn’t scream sincerity. And the then wording of it does even less. 


The wording is … perfunctory, like they’re checking off a box. You want a response? OK, here, we’ve responded. With an answer that’s a conversation-ender. And that’s what people want: a conversation. This is what’s so frustrating about those who keep insisting that cancel culture is the end of creativity, because it’s a deliberate distraction from dialogue. When people call out other people, the motivation isn’t to end them, but to engage them. This was hurtful, this was wrong, give us the opportunity to tell you why, and then join us so that we can figure out why it happened and how to stop it from happening again. 

But Steven Yeun, Ali Wong, and Lee Sung Jin don’t seem to be interested in that work. Their statement is about how they’ve observed David doing the work and how that was enough for them. The problem is that it’s not just about them. He was the one who made it public in 2014 by sharing that horrific story on a podcast. And it has subsequently been revealed that there were multiple instances. Aura Bogado shared another audio clip on Friday and Steven is part of this one. So it’s also about the people who’ve had to listen to David’s f-cksh-t, and see him go on to greater career opportunities without really having to reckon in a commensurate way with his failures. 


Here's a really great thread by Jenn @reappropriate that thoroughly breaks down why the statement is inadequate. I strongly encourage you to read every single tweet: 

As Jenn says:

“I find the statement by Beef producers unsatisfying bc it comes too late and it feels like an attempt to end — not engage — the current and very necessary discourse we need to have around sexual violence and r*pe culture as it impacts the AsAm community.”

She’s right. This is why the statement isn’t sitting well with people. Because it’s not an engagement, it’s an attempt to END the conversation. They just want to move on. And the culture, clearly, doesn’t think that that decision is theirs to make.

Attached – Ali Wong running errands over the weekend.