Liam Neeson

Ava Glasgow

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I'm a little surprised this hasn't come up here yet. During a press junket, Liam Neeson told a personal story of the time he went looking for a black man to kill. Not a particular black man, just any black man, because a friend was raped by a black man so any black man would do.

Neeson told the story to illustrate how he learned that violence and revenge are bad, but doesn't address the insane racism of the incident.

Liam Neeson interview: Rape, race and how I learnt revenge doesn’t work

Yet here in the rigid, conveyor-belt atmosphere of the celebrity junket, the 66-year-old star of Taken is about to recount a disturbing incident from his past, a confession that he’s never made before. It will involve how he learnt about the rape of someone close to him many years ago, how he roamed the streets for a week afterwards carrying with him a cosh and brutal, racist thoughts, and how this taught him that violence and revenge do not work.

It begins as an explanation of how his latest character turns to anger. “There’s something primal – God forbid you’ve ever had a member of your family hurt under criminal conditions,” he begins, hesitantly but thoughtfully. “I’ll tell you a story. This is true.”

It was some time ago. Neeson had just come back from overseas to find out about the rape. “She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way,” Neeson says. “But my immediate reaction was…” There’s a pause. “I asked, did she know who it was? No. What colour were they? She said it was a black person.

“I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by somebody – I’m ashamed to say that – and I did it for maybe a week, hoping some [Neeson gestures air quotes with his fingers] ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could,” another pause, “kill him.”
 
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It was rather surprising. I imagine that this will make a temporary mark on his career. It's Hollywood, though, and if Mel Gibson can make a comeback, so will Liam Neeson.
 

Tigger

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I wonder how much that story is true and how much it was just him thinking it would make a cool revenge anecdote to play on the theme of his movie.

If it's true then its possible he's changed but it raises so many questions about his character, if it's just an on the spot story then he's as racist as his own story makes him out to be.
 

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I wonder how much that story is true and how much it was just him thinking it would make a cool revenge anecdote to play on the theme of his movie.

If it's true then its possible he's changed but it raises so many questions about his character, if it's just an on the spot story then he's as racist as his own story makes him out to be.
That is a good point. He plays up his typecasting at times.
 

Lianne Marten

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Ok good for him for realizing what a shitty thing it was he was trying to do, and he seems genuinely regretful about it and has tried to be better.

But.

Why bring it up at all? My dude this is a thing you talk about in an anger management class or a therapy session or something. What good do you think you're doing by telling this to the world? It's not going to make anything better. Now you feel better I guess? Great? Also now black people get to nod and say yeah society sure is awful a lot of the time. Then they go on continuing to prepare for shit like this and other garbage that they shouldn't have to worry about, getting murdered for walking down the street. The time he's talking about? The place? He probably would have gotten away with it.
 

Markubis

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Ok good for him for realizing what a shitty thing it was he was trying to do, and he seems genuinely regretful about it and has tried to be better.

But.

Why bring it up at all? My dude this is a thing you talk about in an anger management class or a therapy session or something. What good do you think you're doing by telling this to the world? It's not going to make anything better. Now you feel better I guess? Great? Also now black people get to nod and say yeah society sure is awful a lot of the time. Then they go on continuing to prepare for shit like this and other garbage that they shouldn't have to worry about, getting murdered for walking down the street. The time he's talking about? The place? He probably would have gotten away with it.

If he kept quiet about it then he would be put in the same predicament as the governor and his blackface photo from the past. He would be getting chastised for only apologizing because it was found out.

Damned if you do, and damned if you don't apparently.
 
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Lianne Marten

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If he kept quiet about it then he would be put in the same predicament as the governor and his blackface photo from the past. He would be getting chastised for only apologizing because it was found out.

Damned if you do, and damned if you don't apparently.
How would anyone have found out? He says this is a thing that he was considering but never acted upon. It was only ever inside his head. Unless he wrote a letter or something stating his anger and intentions there's literally no way anyone would have known. He revealed this entirely on his own.
 

Wesleytron

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John Barnes wrote a piece in The Guardian (John Barnes is a black English former professional footballer and manager for anyone who may not know).

Liam Neeson started a vital debate. To condemn him is to end it

John Barnes said:
I have been accused of being an apologist for a racist, but let me start off by saying that I’m sure that Neeson is as unconsciously racially biased as the next person... Many are happy to ignore the fact he was admitting to a shameful, backward way of thinking, which he now knows is wrong. Unfortunately, this approach does nothing to address the conscious or unconscious bias that many, if not all of us, feel.
John Barnes said:
This is not Mel Gibson on a drunken antisemitic tirade. This was a story purposely told to a journalist in which he explicitly explained that he was horrified about thinking this way.
John Barnes said:
The fight against racial bias in society will not be won by hounding Liam Neeson or boycotting his films. It will be won by allowing honest discussions about why people hold biased views and exposing the flawed logic behind them.
Liam Neeson started a vital debate. To condemn him is to end it | John Barnes
 
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Lianne Marten

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Liam Neeson didn't start shit, this has been a topic being talked about for years.

All we're doing now is talking about Liam Neeson instead, and how many years ago he was very racist and feels guilty about that. Hooray? What a victory.
 

Zaida Gearbox

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Based on what I read Mr. Neeson realized within a few hours that he wasn't thinking rationally - and his thoughts were wrong.

I also seem to recall after 9/11 - that the majority of Americans wanted blood - it didn't even matter if it was the country to blame as long as we basically destroyed some middle eastern country.

My point - that this latent racism is more prevalent than we like to think it is, and at least Liam Neeson came to his senses before any real harm was done.
 

Ava Glasgow

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Did I miss some later comment by him where he addressed the racism? Because in the original interview he only said revenge and violence were wrong, saying nothing about how wrong it was to specifically target a random black guy to kill. The interviewer contacted him again before going to press, asking if he wanted to address that, and he declined.

I'm just having a hard time understanding why people are glossing over something this violent and potentially deadly while at the same time flipping out about blackface. There's nothing latent about Neeson's racism in this incident, it is pure lynch mob mentality. Letting it slide seems like a massive double standard.