David Choe Using DMCA Takedown Requests to Improve His Image Is Having the Opposite Effect

It comes back to a controversial 2014 podcast episode

David Choe
David Choe attends the Los Angeles Premiere of Netflix's "BEEF" at TUDUM Theater on March 30, 2023.
JC Olivera/Getty Images

Depending on your knowledge of art-world drama, occasional edgelord-ism and notable stock deals, the acclaimed Netflix series Beef might be your first encounter with David Choe, who has the plum supporting role of Isaac on the show. Lately, Choe’s been getting press for something other than his work as an actor — and watching him deal with blowback from some highly publicized 2014 comments is an unsettling lesson in how not to reckon with one’s own past.

Choe first made a name for himself in the world of graffiti and comic books. This eventually led to him creating a mural for a pre-IPO Facebook in which he was paid in stock, which was later estimated to be worth around $200 million. He also achieved some notoriety for other incidents, including being briefly jailed in Japan after striking a security guard in 2005.

On a 2014 episode of his podcast DVDASA, Choe told his co-host, Asa Akira, about something that began as a massage and ended with Choe forcing the masseuse to perform oral sex on him. “She’s definitely not into it, but she’s not stopping it either,” Choe said at the time — something that certainly fits the definition of rape. This was something that Akira pointed out at the time, saying, “You’re basically telling us that you’re a rapist right now, and the only way to get your dick hard is rape.” Choe himself said, “I admit that that’s rapey behavior,” though he denied that it was rape.

Since then, Choe has argued that the story was fiction and that he is not, in fact, a rapist. “At that time in my life, I was done with life and chasing a bottom. I wanted out. I never raped anyone,” he told The New York Times in 2021.

Choe’s higher profile with Beef has, unsurprisingly, led to his earlier comments to come under fire again. And it’s not shocking that his I never committed a violent crime; I was just being an edgelord defense is leaving many unimpressed. There’s another part of that defense that’s also led to much criticism: Choe using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to request that audio clips from the podcast be taken down.

Vice has more details on this, noting that several critics of Choe’s earlier comments have had those clips taken down after a Choe-led nonprofit filed DMCA takedown requests. In trying to minimize these comments, however, it sure seems like Choe (or whoever is filing them on his behalf) is making the situation much worse.

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“I do not believe in the things I have said although I take full ownership of saying them,” Choe wrote in a 2017 Instagram post about his past comments. And while taking full ownership for one’s comments and actions is a laudable goal, the takedown requests seem to be the polar opposite of ownership and accountability.

It’s also a little baffling that no one at Netflix seems to have thought that not addressing Choe’s earlier comments would be a problem. It’s not like Choe is a minor presence in the show — he has a prominent, scene-stealing role and his visual art shows up in the credits for several episodes. Then again, it’s not the first time something like that has happened, either.

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