Liam Neeson has been known to say controversial things in interviews, like when he said, “We all racial-profile,” during the press tour for his movie Non-Stop. But his latest comments really take the cake, leading many people to brand him a “racist nutjob.”
In an interview with The Independent to promote his latest revenge thriller Cold Pursuit, Neeson said he understands the “primal urges” behind people seeking revenge after a friend being attacked drove him to linger around a pub, armed, looking for a black person to kill. Naturally, social media users have responded. Here are The Internet’s Best Reactions And Memes.
9 Liam Neeson is canceled
Thanks to the #MeToo movement, dozens of Hollywood celebrities who have been exposed for their past acts of misconduct have seen their careers ended entirely – the likes of Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., and Harvey Weinstein were “canceled.” In the months since then, the movement has spread and anything slightly problematic, including inappropriate comments, can mean career suicide.
So, will Liam Neeson be canceled like those guys? Only time will tell if today’s climate will see a movie star’s career end over some comments they made in an interview are deemed racist, but this Twitter user certainly seems to think so.
8 The look on the reporter’s face
This is how the reporter was looking the whole time Liam Neeson was talking about hunting down black people. pic.twitter.com/vF1YRGMqCU— Jordan Nelson (@JJNGraphics) February 4, 2019
One Twitter user posted this GIF to represent what the look on the reporter’s face must’ve been when, in the middle of an interview about a new action movie, Liam Neeson, an A-list Hollywood star, started telling him he once went hunting for black people to kill.
The facial expression is pretty accurate, because it shows a range of emotions. He’s astounded that Neeson is saying these things at all, he’s thrilled that he’s bagged what could be the news story of the month (or at least the week, but even that is a big deal in the fast-moving world of journalism), and he’s terrified that Neeson is talking about such psychotic behavior so nonchalantly.
7 Lemme move my bang so I can read that again
While Liam Neeson has insisted throughout today that he is not a racist, a lot of people are having a hard time believing it after he said he wanted to kill a “black bastard.” Those two statements seem to conflict with one another.
And what a lot of people have been quick to point out is: 1) Neeson’s first question to his friend after she was attacked was, “What color was he?” and 2) he set out to kill any black man, not specifically the black man who attacked his friend. But people who didn’t pick up on this upon first reading said, “Lemme move my bang so I can read that again.”
6 Liam Neeson’s Hollywood ride
Liam Neeson’s Hollywood ride pic.twitter.com/fsLLQ1SutC— Nelson Dellamaggiore (@_N_E_D) February 4, 2019
One Twitter user compares what Liam Neeson is going through today to what this ill-fated jockey goes through in the video. He got on a horse, said some racist things, and now, that horse is violently shaking him off its back and kicking him in the face. It is the perfect visual metaphor for the media circus and social media firestorm created by Neeson’s controversial comments.
In these days of years-old inappropriate comments and offensive tweets losing people in Hollywood work – Kevin Hart and the Oscars, James Gunn and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 etc. – people have to be very careful what they say.
5 “What do you mean, you people?”
Taken celebrated its 10th anniversary last week, and therefore, so did Liam Neeson’s status as an action hero. He solidified his new reputation as a big screen tough guy in one single scene: the one in which he speaks to his daughter’s kidnappers on the phone and vows to track them down and kill them.
However, this Twitter user has taken that scene and recontextualized it to reflect Neeson’s comments about killing black people. This satirical edit gets bonus points for throwing in another race-based Hollywood controversy: Robert Downey, Jr.’s use of blackface in the role of Kirk Lazarus in Tropic Thunder.
4 “WTF is a cosh?”
I mean I get that Liam Neeson is a racist and all that, but I'm just gonna put it out there and ask wtf is a cosh? #LiamNeeson— StandToAttention (@street_activist) February 4, 2019
A lot of people’s reactions to Liam Neeson’s comments have focused solely on the wider sociopolitical implications of what he said. However, one Twitter user was distracted by something else in Neeson’s statements. When he spoke about hanging around the pub, looking for black men to kill, he said he was armed “with a cosh.”
This Twitter user asks, “WTF is a cosh?” Well, for them and anyone else who’s wondering the same thing, it simply refers to a big stick that is used as a weapon. It’s not quite a bat; it’s just a stick that’s used to hit people.
3 Liam Neeson is trending...?
*Sees Liam Neeson trending*— Dave Nelson (@nelbo009) February 4, 2019
*Clicks to find out why*
The face that Jon Stewart is pulling in this meme reflects the reaction that just about everybody had when they heard about this story this morning. It probably went something like this: your friend told you, “Hey, have you heard about this Liam Neeson thing?” and you said, “What Liam Neeson thing?” and they got up their phone to show you, and then you pulled a face like this.
It hasn’t so much caused outrage in people as it has a lot of head-scratching and a groaned, “Huh...?” The story is almost too strange to truly anger people. Almost.
2 The Box of Shame
This GIF is for the people who, despite all the controversy from his comments in the Independent interview, would still admit to liking Liam Neeson. It’s the “Box of Shame” from the orphanage in Despicable Me. That’s where you’ll have to go if you want to rewatch Bryan Mills’ search for his ubducted daughter.
Some people still enjoy Kevin Hart’s movies, despite his homophobic comments, and this is the same sort of thing. If you go on enjoying movies like Taken and Non-Stop and Run All Night, then you have to retreat to the “Box of Shame.”
1 The Nathan Fillion speechless GIF
This GIF of Nathan Fillion nails what must be going through Liam Neeson’s head right now. He obviously didn’t mean to come off as a racist when he gave that interview – he simply wanted to show that he understands his characters’ motivations to get revenge against the people who have wronged them.
He tried to say that he’s changed and he doesn’t think that way anymore and he’s ashamed that he once did. But now that the people have spoken and he’s been branded a racist, he can’t really say anything to go back from that – like Fillion in this GIF.