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It’s a difficult and anxious time for the United States and the world right now, and the Black Lives Matter protests represent an inevitable boiling point for inequality. Over the last few weeks, many celebrities and other public figures have pledged their support for Black Lives Matter, including Mark Wahlberg. However, some people have brought up Wahlberg’s own history of hate crimes to claim that the actor should be “cancelled”.
Wahlberg posted this call for unity on his Twitter page last week:
— Mark Wahlberg (@markwahlberg) June 4, 2020
Since then, though, Wahlberg has been targeted for his past actions, which involved a series of racially-motivated incidents when the actor was a teenager in the 1980s. The cases in question are well-documented on Wahlberg’s Wikipedia page, including harassment of black children and a violent attack on a Vietnamese man that led to a brief prison sentence. Although Wahlberg did face court again for an attack on a neighbor in 1992, he continued to find success as a musician, model, and actor.
Wahlberg’s comment on Black Lives Matter has, then, caused many people to call out the actor for hypocrisy:
just a reminder that mark wahlberg committed various LITERAL HATE CRIMES and only served 45 days in prison, so don’t be so quick to applaud him for tweeting blm 🙂 pic.twitter.com/J9ZQBDPmPv
— val | blm (@mitskiangst) June 7, 2020
you have a whole section for your hate crimes on wikipedia,,,,, HOW HAVE WE NOT CANCELLED MARK WAHLBERG? https://t.co/gRqLCrSkAt
— syd ✿ ☼ | au’s 📌 (@spidey_sydney3) June 7, 2020
— Jhaunay-Amanie Hernandez (@jhaunay) June 7, 2020
Wait a minute. John Boyega is worried he won’t work again because he was vocal at an anti-racism protest but Mark Wahlberg has a slew of hate crimes incidents on his Wikipedia page but he has jobs left and right. What the actual F pic.twitter.com/JjYQ7C5zFt
— Safari Mike (@JamboEveryone) June 7, 2020
FINALLY MARK WAHLBERG IS GETTING CANCELLED I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO GET THIS TO HAPPEN FOR YEARS
— lil mama (@nickkburris) June 7, 2020
How the fuck is this man still allowed to have a career? If anyone deserves to be cancelled to the depths of hell its mark wahlberg for his plethora of well-documented, racist crimes https://t.co/xM3X2wjPQN
— BLM (@aquaslippers) June 7, 2020
why tf hasn't mark wahlberg been fucking cancelled, and why do movie ppl still hire him???? https://t.co/s9N0o8h01P
— t i r e d (@oglild) June 8, 2020
Why does Mark Wahlberg have to be racist? He’s one of the GOAT actors and now he’s gonna be cancelled😤
— Riyad (@RiyadHaque) June 8, 2020
Leopards don’t change their spots. You think people actually stop being racist? They just learn to hide it better. I grew up with people like that and they all got away with it. They’re all pillars of the community now who claim they aren’t racist.
— Sam (@Tat2dtrle) June 8, 2020
my favorite song is mark wahlberg getting fucking cancelled that is my shit turn it up literally fuck u @markwahlberg racist scum
— ACAB :^) (@gnuoyah) June 7, 2020
Sooo, Mark Wahlberg is cancelled now? Just trying to keep up, so I don't lose track of everybody I'm supposed to cancel.
— Hutch (@EricSHutchison) June 7, 2020
Others have, without excusing Wahlberg’s past actions, pointed out that cancelling him is an extreme reaction:
So… Mark Wahlberg did terrible things in his past, changed for the better and is now being cancelled by Twitter.
Typical Sunday on this dumpster fire of a website pic.twitter.com/AgNUHsRhv6
— Matt Jarbo (@mjarbo) June 7, 2020
So because someone committed a wrong in their teens, then decades later they should be "cancelled," hated, and denied making a living? . . . Wonderful philosophy you got there.
— Andy Doerksen (@andy_doerksen) June 7, 2020
In 1986. You’re tryna cancel him for something from 34 years ago. He’s since made HUGE strides to try to right his wrongs. In 1991 he even made a song talking about racism (look up “Wildside” by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch). This is fucked up but people are allowed to grow
— #1 Kemba Walker Stan Account (@khanman96) June 7, 2020
It’s a difficult situation to be in: Wahlberg’s clearly done some terrible things in his life, but the majority of them occurred during what was a troubled adolescence. Does this excuse what Wahlberg did? No, of course not, but that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t changed in the thirty or so years since, even if he did make a divisive attempt to receive a pardon for his convictions as recently as 2014.
Perhaps the main message to come away from the controversy around Wahlberg is that the actor should have been more careful about weighing in on the current protests without acknowledging his own past actions. Maybe being upfront about his regret and how he changed his mind would have been the more thoughtful approach, especially given that his past crimes make him an easy target for hypocrisy.
Mark Wahlberg has yet to respond to the backlash against his post, and it may be that he’s chosen to not engage in a debate that will only aggravate his position. At the very least, it’s important for any celebrity, even those without such a problematic history, to think twice about whether they’re really in the best position to comment on issues that may only lead to further anger and claims of hypocrisy.