On Sunday, the Boogie Nights actor appeared on-stage at the 2023 SAG-AFTRA Awards to announce that the critically acclaimed A24 film's primarily Asian cast — which includes Malaysian screen legend Michele Yeoh and Vietnam-born Chinese-American actor Ke Huy Quan — had won the award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. However, many were quick to argue that Wahlberg was probably the worst possible person to present the prestigious award to a film that's been a gamechanger for on-screen Asian representation, given that he was convicted of an anti-Asian hate crime against two Vietnamese-American men in 1988.
“I gotta say, having Mark Wahlberg, who literally went to jail as a teen for committing a hate crime against a Vietnamese man, present an award to the cast of ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ was certainly a choice," as one person tweeted, while another sarcastically wrote, "Good for Mark Wahlberg, standing on a stage with all those Asian people without assaulting any of them."
I gotta say, having Mark Wahlberg, who literally went to jail as a teen for committing a hate crime against a Vietnamese man, present an award to the cast of Everything Everywhere All At Once was certainly a choice— Bonnie Stiernberg (@aahrealbonsters) February 27, 2023
Good for Mark Wahlberg, standing on a stage with all those Asian people without assaulting any of them— Ryan Aguirre (@aguirreryan) February 27, 2023
According to The Independent, a then 16-year-old Wahlberg was found guilty of attacking Thanh Lam and Johnny Trinh while allegedly high on PCP. During the attack, he injured both men by knocking Lam unconscious with a five-foot wooden stick and punching army veteran Trinh in the face, all while yelling racist slurs. Walhberg was also believed to have blinded the latter in one eye, though Trinh later claimed in a 2014 interview that he'd lost his eye while fighting for the South Vietnamese army in 1975.
Even so, Wahlberg was still charged as an adult with attempted murder. Despite claiming he was intoxicated and the attack wasn't race-related, the Departed actor was still found to be in contempt of court thanks to two consecutive incidents from 1986 where he was found guilty of violating the civil rights of several Black children. During the first one, he threw rocks at three kids while yelling "kill the n****s." The following day, he gathered a group of white men at the beach to do a similar thing to another group of predominantly Black children.
His previous crimes resulted in a civil rights injunction that banned him from assaulting, threatening or intimidating anyone because of race or nationality, leading to him being sentenced to two years in prison for felony assault. That said, he only ended up serving 45 days before being released and attempted to have his assault against Lam and Trinh expunged from his record in 2014, though he eventually dropped his request in 2016. Wahlberg has previously said he's “apologized many times” for the crime and that he regretted asking for a pardon.
Wahlberg has yet to address the criticism.
Photos via Getty / Kevin Winter
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