The first time I heard of David Choe, it was during an interview with Howard Stern. Even back then, I recognized that he fancied himself a raconteur, a guy who made his first million off of gambling using a strict Martingale betting system in blackjack (Doubling your next bet each time you lose), then eventually made a fortune by being asked by Facebook, then a young company, to paint their head office, and in lieu of cash he asked to be paid in Facebook stocks. He makes for a good talker, but most listeners know that you can’t take whatever he’s saying as 100% truth. I’ll buy the Facebook story… the gambling story, not so much.
So when Netflix’s show Beef got viral with its success and eventually a story by David Choe regarding getting away with raping a masseuse got viral as well, I wasn’t that surprised. And just like in Howard stern with the Martingale betting system, I can’t 100% tell whether the story is true or not. What is true however is that in telling the story at the time, he was looking to regale his listeners, as a raconteur would. And if he is not guilty of sexually assaulting a masseuse and getting away with it, he is definitely guilty in taking rape lightly and trying to turn it into an entertaining yarn. Now, I’m not a prude. I do believe that you can make a joke about anything. But there was no joke in the story. No punchline. Just a, “hur hur hur, I got away with raping a masseuse, isn’t that nuts?! I’m David Choe.”
Maybe it wasn’t even played as a joke. Maybe it was more of a machismo thing. “I’m David Choe, sex monster.” Who knows? It’s just a bizarre story to tell, or more accurately, confess, and not expect any blow back.
When I was watching Beef, (spoiler alert) my wife and I both observed that all families have someone like David Choe’s character, someone who borrows money from family, ends up wasting it, then sorta disappearing or just being relegated into the outside periphery of the family. The one uncle that failed. The one uncle who went to prison and is never talked about again. The one uncle who never quite fit in and is still trying to find himself even in his forties. This was David’s character. And he played it well. Unfortunately, just like his character in the TV series, his past statements is ruining it for everyone else. People are now trying to boycott the TV series.
I watched and finished the whole series before the David Choe story went viral. I quite enjoyed it. And I actually thought that David did some decent acting amongst more seasoned peers like Steven Yeun and Ali Wong. David sells the character quite frankly, at least to me, because he talks and acts in real life like the type of person that would actually do what his character did in the show. I mean, take his own words as evidence. He gambled himself into his first million, and at one point had nothing but $500 in his pocket. Now, isn’t that the type of stuff that black sheep uncles would do? Lucky for him, it all worked out for him if the gambling story is to be believed.
Knowing that at worst he is a rapist and at the very least he’s an awful comedian with rape fantasies, would I have still enjoyed the series? Would I still recommend it to people? I would like to think that I could suspend reality a bit and indulge in the story that’s being fed to me on screen. And as for recommending the show. I would still recommend it. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and as of now, David is just guilty of having bad stories. And to boycott the series would be doing Yeun, Wong, and everyone else involved in the TV series a huge disservice. It would be letting the bad uncle, the uncle that the rest of the family would rather you not know about, take the whole family down.
Now, this is different of course with enjoying the works of people like Woody Allen or Roman Polanski. By not watching their films, you’re not buying their products, You are actually hurting them. With Beef, David is not the main character nor is he the director, writer, or one of the executive producers. He just played the bad guy, and he turned out to be a bit of an awful guy in real life. Keep on not watching Allen and Polanski films. Go ahead and watch Beef.