Marvel’s Shang-Chi star Simu Liu is in a bit of hot water for comments he allegedly made on Reddit years ago, long before he was a leading man in a blockbuster film. Screenshots from an old Reddit account purported to belong to Liu — u/nippedinthebud — were posted to Twitter last week, according to the Daily Dot. And oh boy, he should’ve nipped these posts in the bud.
The screenshots show u/nippedinthebud commenting in r/aznidentity, a “Men’s Rights Asians” subreddit that’s been known to harass Asian women off the internet and share racist, anti-Black sentiments. While the screenshots don’t show u/nippedinthebud participating in the subreddit’s more extreme behavior, his alleged presence in the notorious group was enough to draw criticism.
Beyond the connection to r/aznidentity, other screenshots making the rounds show u/nippedinthebud ranting about why he “gets frustrated” and “sometimes … say[s] things” when playing sports with women and, more alarmingly, appearing to sympathize with … pedophiles.
In a comment posted back in 2015, u/nippedinthebud explained how he is a Canadian actor and had done “a significant amount of research” for a role where he played a pedophile, and that the experience made him “much more sympathetic to anyone who is born with those urges.” Then u/nippedinthebud went on to link pedophilia to homosexuality. The now-deleted post reads, “From a biological standpoint, it’s no different than being gay – a small mutation in the genome that defines our sexual preferences. Depending on what area of the world you were born and what time, it also may have been a perfectly acceptable thing to act on those urges.”
So how do people know this seemingly anonymous Reddit user is Simu Liu?
According to the Daily Dot, “Two separate archives of u/nippedinthebud (one from 2014, the other from 2017) appear to confirm that the account did belong to Liu … Although u/nippedinthebud has been deleted on Reddit, you can still view an archive of all of u/nippedinthebud’s posts between 2013 and 2019 through a GitHub repo tool that can archive Reddit posts even from deleted accounts. Many of the posts made by u/nippedinthebud published within that span of time further identify the user as Liu.”
Whenever old, problematic tweets or social posts made by a celebrity resurface and go viral (so just about every day), I’m always left a bit baffled. How in the year 2021 are celebrities still letting this happen? We’re all well aware that mobs of internet users — some of them justified, some of them less so — are on the hunt for incriminating comments made by public figures, so how are the blue checkmarks not scrubbing every post they’ve made before 2018?
One explanation could be that some people have simply posted so much old, problematic shit that they’ve forgotten where to even find it all. Another is that they assume no one will ever uncover it, especially if it was posted under a pseudonym, as was the case with Liu. But the internet can also make it difficult to bury your past. Even if you delete old social media accounts or specific posts before someone can grab a screenshot, you still have third-party applications and archival websites that collect, store and allow access to deleted posts and comments. This appears to be what happened to Liu, who deleted his account but was still able to be identified, along with the comments he made under his account, through a GitHub tool.
Of course, there is no justification for the comments Liu allegedly made or the deeply problematic subreddit he freely associated with, and if true, people and his fans have every right to be upset with him. We should also recognize, though, that social media posts made years ago might not reflect who a person is in there here and now (admittedly, that’s a tad harder to do when the person was a 26-year-old adult at the time).
Regardless, let this be another ghastly reminder of the internet’s permanence, and behave yourself accordingly.
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