30-year-old Simu Liu, who will be kicking his way into the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the star of ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ but he has one thing working against him– Chinese people think he’s “very ugly.”
In a video posted by Asian Boss, host Tony stated that Chinese social media had determined that both Liu and his co-star Awkwafina were “considered ‘very ugly’,” before hitting the streets with a photo to poll locals.
The respondents were not as harsh as those on social media (who is?!), with most judging Liu to be about average, but there was a definite consensus that he didn’t fit the Chinese standard of beauty. Some stated that the Chinese preferred more delicate features, however one stated that the standard was more prominent features– “big eyes, smaller faces.” The same woman stated that when she saw Asians in American movies, they tended to simply have stereotypical Asian features, not those specific to Chinese people.
However, a male respondent gave the rather telling and truthful response: “I think all Americans look the same, so maybe they think all Chinese look the same.”
Perhaps the most in-depth– and bizarre– response was:
“In China, we prefer men who have delicate features with a bit of makeup. They appear gentle and not aggressive. And they look like puppies. But when you watch foreign films, their men look like bodyguards. Like a pack of wolves. They look very strong, masculine, and seem very tough. I think the culture and social environment influence their standard of beauty.”
This description seems to better fit that for Korean boy bands, who are more “pretty” than what Westerners tend to consider “sexy” or “hot.” That also doesn’t quite jibe when they were asked what stars they would prefer, with them suggesting Eddie Peng, Vincent Zhao, and Wu Jing.
Definitely delicate. He looks about 15 years old! Despite his appearance, however, Peng is 37! It should be noted, he is not Chinese, but Taiwanese-Canadian.
This goes in the exact opposite direction. Are those considered “delicate” features? He isn’t wearing makeup and doesn’t look like a puppy. He’s also 47 years old. “Rugged” might be a better description, but comparing him to Peng… are we talking about casting the same role?
Along those lines, Jing is 45. One interviewee pointed out Liu’s “flat nose” as a negative trait, but Jing has a pretty flat nose, himself. Jing is a major star in China, having starred in’Wolf Warrior 2′, which was China’s #1 movie before the release of ‘The Wandering Earth’, in which Jing also starred. He may be a sex symbol in China, but… he kinda just looks like some guy, to me.
Once again, he isn’t “delicate” and doesn’t fit that androgynous description that the Chinese people seemed to indicate was their standard of beauty.
One interviewee said:
“[Jing] definitely has more fans than Simu. The filmmakers knew this, but they didn’t care. When you look at other Marvel characters, they’re all good looking. But when they cast Simu, they didn’t consider our opinions. They didn’t listen to what Chinese people thought about it.”
Not to sound too sassy, but it ain’t about you. This is an American movie. Beyond being attractive, the lead has to speak fluent English.
But Liu himself saw the video and posted a lengthy and heartfelt response. A brief excerpt reads:
“I’ve never been called ugly so many times in my entire life! For me, it’s never been about trying to shut the voices out – it’s a fruitless effort (especially if people happen to be making Youtube videos about it lol). Rather, it’s about learning to let the voices exist and be OKAY with it. I’m still doing my thing, and I’m still over the moon happy I get this amazing opportunity.
“I’m not going a few voices of doubt ruin that for me, and neither should you, in whatever you are pursuing in your life. (I also seriously question the integrity of the channel that puts this up LOL)”
But perhaps the best response from the video is:
“People around the world don’t need to have the same standard of beauty. We don’t need to think the same way. You shouldn’t force your standard of beauty onto other people from different backgrounds. This kind of thinking is wrong. People shouldn’t standardize what is considered beautiful. I value diversity, and every culture’s standard of beauty should be respected.”
Liu has also posted a few videos on Twitter which may help make his case:
What do you think? Is Simu Liu too ugly to play a Marvel Superhero?
Written by Dave Callaham, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ opens on February 12, 2021.