Should Liam Neeson Apologize for What He Said?

Liam Neeson | GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images

We’re seemingly used to celebrities being more transparent lately and saying whatever they have on their mind. No doubt one reason for it is we’ve become a more contrite nation willing to forgive for some things. Then again, we’ve drawn lines on what a celebrity can say.

Liam Neeson’s recent interview comment about once desiring revenge on random African-Americans after a friend was raped by a black man has raised plenty of eyebrows.

We recently covered what Neeson said in the above interview as he promoted his film Cold Pursuit. The aftermath hasn’t been pretty, but should Neeson apologize to make the criticisms die down? In our news cycle tidal wave, it’s truly up in the air.

Placing Neeson’s comment in context

You could look at Neeson’s comment as a statement on a larger problem of racism being permanently embedded in our culture. After all, when he explained what happened, he mentioned he was triggered into wanting to punch out a “black bastard” while walking into a local pub.

While he said he regrets feeling this way at the time, it took away from the undeniable statistics showing most rapes occur from white people. As a result, it made Neeson’s statement slightly unsettling.

On the other hand, you could look at his comment as complete honesty and bringing a complicated issue into the open. Some famous people also came to his defense.

Some celebrities who say Neeson isn’t racist

Michelle Rodriguez was one of the first celebrities who spoke up about Neeson’s character. She said there wasn’t any way he’s racist because he kissed Viola Davis in the 2018 film Widows.

Whoopi Goldberg also defended Neeson on The View because she’d been around him enough to know he isn’t a bigot. She noted rage can make people think this way after facing the reality of a close friend being raped.

Others, though, were angry there wasn’t any historical context and called out racial blindness.

Others who criticized Neeson

Shonda Rhimes was one calling out willful ignorance over the realities of racism from the above pro-Neeson notables.

Opinion was split down the middle in the African-American community. Yet, the criticisms were more than warranted when you place our long history of racism in perspective.

Would a simple apology from Neeson help the situation, or would it just put him even deeper into a PR nightmare?

Judging Neeson’s actions over comments

Look around on Twitter, and you’ll find considerable general public opinion about Neeson’s comment. One in particular posted a picture of Neeson working for UNICEF in recent years where he interacted with children in regions of Africa. The tweet countered we should judge Neeson’s actions over words.

Perhaps that’s the best approach to this when a lot of real racists claim they’re not racist when actions speak otherwise. We won’t name people in states of power doing this, though the point is obvious.

With Neeson saying he’ll stick with doing action films until he dies, maybe one of his films can address racism head-on if he isn’t willing to apologize outright.

Bringing the above actions to film

We might still see a public apology from Neeson about what he said. He may be forced to since it seemed to have torn the showbiz community down the middle on being right or wrong.

You could say he already gave an apology (more or less) in a recent interview on Good Morning America.

It didn’t work for everybody since many called for Neeson to be digitally removed from his upcoming film Men In Black International.

Considering Neeson has starred in numerous actions films taking on important social issues, maybe he’ll star in one tackling racism from a unique perspective. More and more films aren’t afraid to take on the subject of racism. Seeing something similar in a Neeson action film could say a lot more about his beliefs than words could.