Over the past few days, the internet has been abuzz after Liam Neeson, while promoting a movie that’s basically like every other movie he insists on making, made a confession:
“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,” he told The Independent, “hoping some ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could, kill him.”
For those keeping score at home, as I write this February 5th, 2019, it would and should be Trayvon Martin’s 24th birthday, but instead he was followed, harassed, provoked and killed. It was also less than a week ago when Jussie Smollett, was allegedly followed, harassed, provoked and attacked, thankfully still here to tell the tale. Or you know the long documented history of lynch mobs being started by well, an allegation from a white woman. I mean, not that there is ever a good time to confess you was strolling the neighborhood hunting black people, but I mean, he picked the WORST time. What he was attempting to accomplish in this (hopefully) career suicide statement was that he was blinded by vengeance and “primal” rage and after some cardio and therapy he can say he’s past his racist ways. Now, as a black man, I can say I hope he has changed. That he’s truly remorseful, that he has grown since then. But also, as a black man… Fuck you. All them movies since Taken are trash anyway.
People should grow and mature for growth’s sake but too often I feel like people are only apologizing with the expectation of being forgiven. When they aren’t, you see how sorry they wasn’t (see Hart, Kevin). Liam Neeson has to hold this L for the rest of his career, and we’ll see how long it takes for him to feel like black people are overreacting. Louis C.K. was sorry for about a year. Aziz Ansari, 8 months. It goes beyond celebrity, however. We are all about 10 years into this social media era. 10 years of self documentation. We are also in this receipts era where all you have to do is trend on Twitter and some people with too much time on their hands are going to dig through your old tweets for anything problematic. I’m able to be nuanced about these things, I joined Twitter at 20, I’m sure I’ve said some shit I would take back a decade later. However, I was still old enough to know better about most things. When I was 20, I thought wallet chains were cool, drank Vodka, and wore t shirts over polos. I wasn’t cracking rape jokes and bashing black women for clout. Like with Neeson, do I hope these people grew and matured for their own sake, yes. Do I still judge them, also yes.
What needs to be understood about growth and problematic actions of the past is that the society at large is not obligated to let that shit go. Nor does admitting it under the guise of well we all do ________, we all need to change. It’s accountability without being accountable. The same way white people all believe racism exists but never believe they themselves are racist. And so, Liam Neeson, his non apology and his particular set of prejudices can all get the fuck outta here.