Oscar nominated and widely acclaimed actor Liam Neeson has come under fire this week after an interview was released, in which the actor admitted that he went out for a week and a half with a cosh looking for a ‘black bastard’ – yes this actually really happened, I initially thought this was fake news, full details of the original interview here.
So to put the situation into context, someone close to the actor was raped. This is no doubt a traumatic, tragic and difficult situation, but rather than focusing on consoling his victim Liam asks “what colour were they?”, now I don’t know about you but that seems like an extremely skewed and odd reaction. If someone tells me they’ve been attacked, my immediate reaction is to provide comfort and support not establishing the colour of the attacker. Why was establishing the colour of the attacker relevant to the actor? He wasn’t trying to identify the attacker and asking for a general profile of height, race, hair colour, eye colour…. no just one thing mattered, the skin colour of the attacker.
Now that Liam has established the attacker was black, every black man is at fault and he’s prowling the streets of black dominated areas hoping someone will approach him to start trouble (because of course all black men are aggressive and will start trouble at the drop of a hat), so he can kill any black man. Unfortunately for Liam, an angry black man doesn’t start trouble with him and after a week and a half he decides to put a halt on his revenge plot to kill. I wonder what would have happened had a black man approached him, would he have used his cosh? The fact the premeditated crime didn’t go ahead appears to be because Neeson couldn’t find a victim in a week, not because he realised his actions were wrong. The ‘epiphany’ Liam comes to is summed up by him as ‘“I did learn a lesson from it, when I eventually thought, ‘What the fuck are you doing,’ you know?”. Very underwhelming if you ask me, there’s no genuine remorse, regret or an acknowledgement that not all black people are collectively at fault, guilty and deserved to be killed due to the actions of one black individual.
Following the release of this interview, the reaction has been mixed to say the least. Ex footballer John Barnes believes that the actor ‘deserves a medal for his honesty’. Is that what it takes to be awarded a medal in this day and age? Wanting to kill a black man but deciding against it does not in my opinion warrant being awarded a medal, doing the bare minimum by not taking the life of another isn’t medal criteria. Also I have an issue with this ‘honesty’ element, in reality I doubt that a man who was willing to kill any innocent black man only had such terrible thoughts for a mere week. Let’s be real here, this is highly unlikely to be the one and only racist thought this actor has had.
Hollywood actor Terry Crews has also chimed in with his thoughts and shared a tweet stating “I believe that every person on earth is capable of the greatest good, or unspeakable evil. Liam is just describing his fork in the road.” Whilst I agree that nobody is perfect and mistakes shouldn’t define a person, why did Terry Crews try to downplay the actor’s comments as a ‘fork in the road’. How can we prevent racism like this from happening if we don’t have a collective and unified voice against blatant incidents of racism? Comments like this in my opinion only help to enable a racist to feel justified and perceive those who do condemn their actions and comments as racist as over exaggerators that are making a mountain out of a molehill, in summary this is just completely counter-productive. We should be honest and denounce actions for what they are, without being afraid of seeming too sensitive and ruffling feathers.
A Sky News poll asked viewers “Does Liam Neeson’s admission make you more or less likely to watch his films?” 12% were less likely to watch his films, 8% were more likely to watch his films and 74% felt the admissions made no difference. Those statistics speak for themselves and I was pretty shocked to say the least, that 8% felt more inclined to watch his film because he admitted he wanted to kill a black man, you just can’t make it up.
So how can we constructively move forward? Below are a few suggestions:
- Firstly we can stop feeling like we have a chip on our shoulder, are paranoid and playing the race card when racism actually occurs, in this scenario this situation was undoubtedly racist, we should be comfortable with saying that.
- Let’s not celebrate the bare minimum, the fact that an actor admitted that he decided against killing a black man which would have been somebody’s son, father, brother, nephew, grandchild is not a cause for celebration.
- Avoid being further divided by incidents such as this, the more divided we are the harder it will be to empower and achieve as a community.
- Personally, I won’t be going to see the new film (don’t know the name of the film or care) as I don’t feel comfortable watching somebody who premeditated killing any innocent black man – although I haven’t been to the cinema in months and probably wouldn’t have gone anyway.