Controversy surrounds ‘BEEF’ due to actor’s questionable interview


‘BEEF’ Trailer | Netflix

Carol Chen

Editor’s Note: This article contains information that may be troubling for some readers.

“BEEF,” a 10-episode Netflix series starring an Asian American main cast, has been hailed as one of the best shows of 2023.

The show premiered on April 6, receiving widespread praise and finishing in fourth overall on the Nielsen’s streaming rankings with 962 million minutes of viewing time for the week of April 3 to April 9.

With stellar performances from Ali Wong and Steven Yeun, the show follows the chaotic lives of two individuals who cross paths during a road rage incident.

The former is best known for her standup specials on Netflix and Steven Yeun came to fame in critically acclaimed productions like “The Walking Dead” and “Nope.”

However, details of another cast member’s past have resurfaced on the internet, creating a dilemma among viewers and the show’s producers.

David Choe, the actor behind the character Isaac Cho, is better known for his work as an artist. Choe’s most well-known and best paid work was done in 2005 and 2007 when he painted murals in Facebook offices. His artwork is also featured in the show’s title cards at the start of each episode.

Choe made an alarming confession regarding a non-consensual sexual encounter on a podcast in 2014. On “DVDASA,” a podcast he co-hosted with Asa Akira, Choe detailed explicitly how he raped a masseuse.

“You’re basically telling us that you’re a rapist right now,” Akira replied in shock. Choe said “Yeah” and later said “A successful rapist.”

A month after the podcast, Choe apologized on Instagram, claiming it was a fabricated story made for shock factor. “The main objective of all of my podcasts is to challenge and provoke my friends and the co-stars on the show,” Choe said. “I’m sorry if anyone believed that the stories were fact. They were not!”

Since the release of “BEEF,” many people have been calling out Choe for his actions and condemning Ali Wong and other executive producers for giving him a platform. Others say Wong is not responsible for Choe’s actions.

Once again, the internet faces the dilemma of whether it is appropriate to separate the art from the artist. Similar to the reactions of other male artists who behaved inappropriately towards women, some people say their actions from years ago can be overlooked. Others say they should be de-platformed and held responsible.

However, another perspective circulating online considered the efforts of other members in the production industry for television series and films. Besides the producers and the cast, hundreds of people work together behind the screen to produce a show. Some believed the work of makeup artists, cinematographers and screenwriters should not be ignored due to poor casting and the show should remain.

In response to the backlash, the executive producers have released a statement.

“We do not condone this story in any way, and we understand why this has been so upsetting and triggering,” they said. “We’re aware David has apologized in the past for making up this horrific story, and we’ve seen him put in the work to get the mental health support he needed over the last decade to better himself and learn from his mistakes.”

The resurfaced clips of Choe’s podcast have been taken down for copyright. It appears that Choe filed copyright notices himself under the David Young Choe Foundation.

If David Choe and the executive producers of “BEEF” have taken full accountability for Choe’s actions, many are left confused as to why they would be covering up the evidence.

Separating the art from the artist’s horrendous actions is impossible, discussions claim, without recognizing the artist’s wrongs.