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Who Thought It Was a Good Idea To Have Mark Wahlberg Present a SAG Award to ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’?

Mark Wahlberg presents the SAG award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture to EEAAO

The 29th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards were held on February 26, 2023, and, as anticipated, marked another huge night for Everything Everywhere All At Once. The sci-fi dramedy has been an unstoppable force this awards season, scooping up top honors at every major film awards ceremony, including The Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards. The film kept this trend going at the SAG Awards, as the cast and crew nabbed a total of 4 wins.

In addition to Ke Huy Quan, Michelle Yeoh, and Jamie Lee Curtis taking home individual awards for their performances, Everything Everywhere All At Once‘s entire cast also won the show’s most prestigious award, Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. This led to a beautiful moment where James Wong accepted the award with a powerful speech reiterating how the film has led to him and his fellow Asian actors finally getting the overdue recognition in Hollywood that they have so clearly earned. However, there was one aspect of the moment that many felt marred its perfection, the presence of Mark Wahlberg.

The SAG Awards made the very strange choice to have Wahlberg present the biggest award of the night. To be fair, they couldn’t have known what movie would win when they booked Wahlberg to present, but given Everything Everywhere All At Once‘s performance at recent awards shows, the film was clearly the frontrunner for the award. And given the history of Asian misrepresentation and underrepresentation in the film industry, it was bound to be an especially poignant and powerful moment. Hence, it is unfathomable why the SAG Awards chose to have Wahlberg, a man with a history of hate crimes against Black and Asian communities, present an award to Everything Everywhere All At Once‘s predominantly Asian cast.

Wahlberg’s history of racism and hate crimes

Mark Wahlberg as Stuart Long in Father Stu

It is unclear why Wahlberg’s past hate crimes failed to prevent him from launching a career in Hollywood, however, they are widely known and have frequently resurfaced over the years. Wahlberg’s history of racism and hate crimes began when he was just a teenager. In August of 1986, a civil lawsuit was filed against a 15-year-old Wahlberg after he and his friends attacked a group of Black elementary school children while they were out on a field trip to the beach. Wahlberg and his friends chased the children (some of whom were only in fourth grade), threw rocks at them, and yelled racial slurs at them. Unfortunately, Wahlberg wasn’t tried for that hate crime, instead receiving what equated to little more than a warning.

Less than two years later, a now 16-year-old Wahlberg attacked two Vietnamese-American men, in two separate hate crimes carried out on the same day. The gruesome attacks were detailed in charges filed against Wahlberg for attempted murder. In a wholly unprovoked attack, he assaulted Vietnamese American Thanh Lam, knocking him unconscious while calling him racial slurs. Wahlberg fled when police arrived, only to encounter another Vietnamese American man, Hoah Trinh, who he assaulted after waiting for a police car to pass by. Upon being arrested, he continued to make “numerous unsolicited racial statements” about the men he had just assaulted. Wahlberg pleaded guilty to felony assault but received little more than a slap on the wrist with a two-year prison sentence, of which he only served a mere 45 days.

Meanwhile, Wahlberg’s regret over his past actions has been called into question, especially in 2014 when he sought to be pardoned for his hate crimes against Lam and Trinh and have them scrubbed from his criminal record. In his request, he apologized for his actions and claimed he had “dedicated” himself “to becoming a better person.” His request received high backlash, including from one of the victims of the school children attack, resulting in Wahlberg ultimately dropping the request and expressing regret for seeking it in the first place. While Trinh spoke out to reveal he had forgiven Wahlberg, it is unclear if Wahlberg ever personally met with or apologized to Trinh (or any of his other victims), though he had indicated an interest in doing so.

Why did SAG have Wahlberg present EEAAO’s award?

Regardless of whether Wahlberg actually feels remorse or if he should be forgiven, he had no business presenting an award to Everything Everywhere All At Once. The win was a historical moment for the Asian community and should not have been marred by the presence of a man who committed hate crimes against Asians and is now a celebrity who largely escaped any consequences for his crimes. While the cast of Everything Everywhere All At Once has not commented on the situation, the SAG Awards never should’ve created the situation in the first place. One can only imagine how discouraging it is to receive such a historical win for one’s community in Hollywood, yet to still literally have a man with a racist/hate crime history standing on the stage at that exact moment.

The decision has sparked criticism from social media users who slammed the SAG Awards for their insensitive decision to have Wahlberg present the award and reminded other users of the past that Wahlberg has largely managed to sweep under the rug.

A lot of vitriol has circled back to Wahlberg, as well. Even if the SAG Awards did, for unfathomable reasons, request him to present the award, Wahlberg could’ve declined the invitation. It is highly unlikely that both the SAG Awards and Wahlberg happened to be unaware of Wahlberg’s history and didn’t have any clue that Everything Everywhere All At Once would take home the major award, or at least predict it was a solid possibility. Hence, why neither party attempted to prevent the moment from happing is unclear. Neither the SAG Awards nor Wahlberg have publicly responded to the criticism, but hopefully, the incident will result in awards show being more sensitive about whom they choose as presenters in the future.

(featured image: Netflix)

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Rachel Ulatowski is a Freelance Writer, blogger, and aspiring author. As a Freelancer Writer she hopes to give readers the same comfort and enjoyment that she finds in all things nerdy and noteworthy, as a blogger she enjoys snarking on YouTubers and reality stars, and as a future novelist she hopes to raise awareness for child abuse through literature.