Simu Liu has slammed an op-ed published by HuffPost for suggesting he was hired as the “token” Asian actor in the upcoming movie “Barbie.”
In the article titled “We Love Simu Liu, But He’s Not The Only Talented Asian Thirst Trap In Hollywood,” writer Ian Kumamotowrote that “Asian Twitter collectively scratched its head” over Liu’s casting in the movie.
Don’t get us wrong — we love Liu and we’re all for an Asian king thriving. But when a single actor appears to be getting the bulk of Asian male roles in Hollywood, it starts to feel a little less like representation and a lot more like tokenism. All we’re saying is, we don’t want a predominantly white Hollywood to gatekeep sexy Asian male representation like it has for decades when there are so many other attractive and talented Asian men who deserve to be seen and appreciated by the general public.
To prove his point, Kumamoto even listed seven other Asian actors who could have played the role of Ken in the film, including Manny Jacinto of “The Good Place,” Ludi Lin of “Mortal Kombat” and Steven Yeun.
Liu, who plays one of the several variations of Ken in “Barbie,” commented on the Facebook post linking to the article to call out the suggestion that he was monopolizing the Asian male roles.
Way to attempt to put us against one another. What ‘bulk’ of roles are you referring to? Are there movies I’m in that I’m not aware of? Do you really think that there is a quota of ‘Asian male roles’ that is a zero-sum game? Everything I have taken post Shang-Chi was not written Asian. We’ve been able to reshape stories to get more representation onscreen. Get your facts straight.
Many of the commenters supported Liu, noting that the article could have addressed the issue of the lack of Asian representation without singling out one actor.
“How disrespectful,” one user wrote. “Just because you’re seeing more Asian representation doesn’t mean all these roles for Asian people exist. Instead of writing an article pitting actors against one another, try writing an article addressing the issue at hand- not enough roles in TV and Film are written for Asian people. Period.”
“Disappointing article,” shared another. “You could have kept Simu out of it and still present your case for more roles that could and should be represented by Asian Kings and Princes. Celebrate Simu and let him be an example to present to Hollywood. Don’t bring him down because of his great success. It makes no sense.”
“Since when does actor equal thirst trap, whatever that means?” asked a commenter. “Rather than blaming Liu (which is an invalid blame), maybe discuss why there are so few Asian roles?”
Others pointed out that it was most likely the actor’s audition that won him the role to begin with.
“Maybe his Ken role wasn’t written as Asian, but Simu just did the best out of those who auditioned?” noted one user.
“While representation might be part of it, I would think that the decision is more around profit i.e. Simu Liu is a bankable actor and recognizable drawcard for the film,” another chimed in.
The “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” star also posted a screenshot of his response on his Facebook page with the caption, “The trashest take by HuffPo. Also, I’m not a ‘thirst trap.’ I’m a f*cking actor.”
“Barbie,” which features Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling in leading roles, is set to hit cinemas in the U.S. on July 21.
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