The big win for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” at the Screen Actors Guild Awards was a watershed moment for Asian representation — but for some, it was also a reminder of Mark Wahlberg’s history of anti-Asian violence.
The mostly Asian cast of A24’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once” won the award for cast in a movie on Sunday night. As star James Hong celebrated Hollywood inclusion, some viewers took issue with the host, Wahlberg.
“Good for Mark Wahlberg, being on stage with all those Asians without attacking any of them,” publicist Ryan Aguirre tweeted Sunday.
“Mark Wahlberg presenting an award to an Asian cast is DISGUSTING,” wrote another Twitter user. In the 1990s, he was arrested for assaulting (near death) a Vietnamese man for fun. Yelling racist slurs at him to get his bricks off. How much more unattainable can the #SAGAwards2023 #SAGAwards be?”
Wahlberg’s anger stems from an April 1988 incident in which the “Uncharted” star, then a teenager, assaulted two Vietnamese men and made racial slurs. He spent 45 days of a two-year sentence in jail for the crime.
In December 2014, he filed for a pardon for the assault with the Massachusetts Pardon Board, noting that he was “deeply sorry” for his actions. In 2016, he gave up his pursuit.
Social media users also called out the SAG Awards on Sunday for choosing Wahlberg, “a man who notoriously committed hate crimes”, to present the award. One user saw the controversy as an example of “white privilege.”
Other users thought the moment was hypocritical, citing Will Smith’s slap at the 2022 Academy Awards.
“Will Smith was banned while Mark Wahlberg was allowed to present an award to an Asian cast,” he said writer Torraine Walker.
Representatives from the SAG Awards and Wahlberg did not immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment on Monday.
Resistance aside, the 2023 SAG Awards were major milestones for Asian talent. Ke Huy Quan and Michelle Yeoh, who star as spouses in ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’, have both made history for the SAG Awards.
Yeoh became the first Asian woman to win the Female Actor in a Leading Role award, and Quan became the first Asian male to win the Supporting Male Actor award.
“I was recently told that if I won tonight, I would become the first-ever Asian actor to win in this category,” Quan said during his emotional acceptance speech. “When I heard this, I quickly realized that this moment is no longer mine alone. It is also from everyone who has asked for change.”
Quan’s co-star Hong echoed similar sentiments towards the end of the ceremony.
“My first movie was with Clark Gable, but back then… the lead was played by these guys with their eyes glued shut like this (pulls back the corners of his eyes) and they talk-like-a-this,” he said. And the producer said, ‘the Asians weren’t good enough, and they’re not a box office.’ But look at us now!”
With several awards from the SAG Awards, Directors Guild Awards and Producers Guild Awards, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is on its way to the 95th Academy Awards on March 12.