In 2014, American artist and actor David Choe—who’s recently been brought back in the spotlight following the success of Netflix’s new TV hit BEEF, in which Choe stars as Isaac—told a detailed story about sexually assaulting a masseuse on his old podcast called DVDASA.
Though his troubling claims were first reported by entertainment blog xoJane at the time, clips of the podcast are only now resurfacing because of his part in the existential thriller, which currently boasts an impressive score of 100 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.
In what can only be seen as a desperate attempt to clear his name, according to various publications including VICE and Variety, Choe is now issuing copyright takedowns of people who post the incriminating clips of the podcast episode to social media. Desperate times call for desperate measures, aye?
In the clip, which has been viewed by SCREENSHOT but won’t be shared in this article for legal reasons, Choe tells porn actress, adult film director and podcast co-host Asa Akira a story about his experience at a massage parlour, in which he claims he attempted to coerce a masseuse into putting her hand on his penis.
“She’s not into it but she’s not stopping it either,” Choe recalls, going on to describe how he held her hand on his penis with both of his hands. The actor also describes how he told the masseuse to “spit on it,” and to open her mouth, to which she said no.
He then adds that he forced her to give him a blow job: “I take the back of her head and push it down on my dick, and she doesn’t do it, and then I go ‘open your mouth’ and she does it, and then I start face fucking her.”
In response to Choe’s harrowing and spine-chilling story, Akira points out, “You’re basically telling us that you’re a rapist right now, and the only way to get your dick hard is rape,” to which he responds with a simple “yeah.”
In a confusing turn of events, on that same episode, Choe goes on to claim that although he admits “that that’s rapey behaviour,” he’s “not a rapist.”
When BEEF hit our screens on 6 April 2023, it took less than a week for the Netflix show’s hype to play its part in bringing Choe’s past comments back to the surface. As soon as Twitter users got their hands on a clip of the DVDASA episode, the actor’s claims went viral on the platform.
Several netizens who posted videos of the podcast were sent notices that their tweets featuring the clip would be removed on copyright infringement grounds. Reporter Aura Bogado bravely posted screenshots of the notice, which allegedly came from the “David Young Choe Foundation.” Interestingly, the foundation is a nonprofit led by Choe that was incorporated in 2015 and terminated under that name in 2020, according to public records. It was then renamed the Meleka Foundation.
Writer and content creator Meecham Whitson Meriweather was met with a similar fate after he shared a clip of Choe’s comments, claiming that Twitter “locked his account.” In the takedown request he personally received, Meriweather said both he and Bogado’s accounts were specifically named for having “re-uploaded” the podcast clip.
“Maybe because we were the most vocal about it and we’re the ones getting the most traffic?” Meriweather told Vice. “Not sure, but the video isn’t monetised and his reasoning for getting it taken down was pathetic,” he added.
Following the podcast episode’s release on 18 April 2014, BuzzFeed reported on an announcement post shared by Choe himself on the DVDASA website titled: “I never thought I’d wake up one late afternoon and hear myself called a rapist. It sucks. Especially because I am not one.”
In the full announcement, which has since been deleted from the internet, along with the podcast’s website, he claims that his story about the masseuse wasn’t “a representation of my reality.”
As first reported by BuzzFeed, Choe’s response allegedly stated: “I am not a rapist. I hate rapists, I think rapists should be raped and murdered. I am an artist and a storyteller and I view my show DVDASA as a complete extension of my art. If I am guilty of anything, it’s bad storytelling in the style of douche. Just like many of my paintings are often misinterpreted, the same goes with my show. The main objective of all of my podcasts is to challenge and provoke my friends and the co-stars on the show.
The statement continued: “We fuck with each other, entertain ourselves and laugh at each other. It’s a dark, tasteless, completely irreverent show where we fuck with everyone listening, but mostly ourselves. We create stories and tell tales. It’s not a news show. It’s not a representation of my reality. It’s not the place to come for reliable information about me or my life. It’s my version of reality, it’s art that sometimes offends people. I’m sorry if anyone believed that the stories were fact. They were not! In a world full of horrible people, thank god for us.”
Though this was the first time he acknowledged the controversy surrounding what he had said on his podcast, it certainly wasn’t the last. In 2017, Choe was commissioned by Goldman Properties to paint a large mural on a wall in Manhattan, New York. Shortly after, an anti-rape protest and performance art piece titled ‘NO MEANS NO’ responded to the mural, presumably in response to his 2014 comments.
Following the protest, Choe addressed his comments once again, this time in an Instagram post in which he denied that the story ever happened. “In a 2014 episode of DVDASA, I relayed a story simply for shock value that made it seem as if I had sexually violated a woman,” he wrote in the post’s caption.
“Though I said those words, I did not commit those actions. It did not happen. I have ZERO history of sexual assault. I am deeply sorry for any hurt I’ve brought to anyone through my past words. Non-consensual sex is rape and it is never funny or appropriate to joke about. I was a sick person at the height of my mental illness, and have spent the last 3 years in mental health facilities healing myself and dedicating my life to helping and healing others through love and action. I do not believe in the things I have said although I take full ownership of saying them,” Choe concluded.
BEEF director Lee Sung Jin, co-stars Steven Yeun and Ali Wong, and Netflix are yet to comment on the controversy. As of now, Choe did not respond to SCREENSHOT’s request for comment.
We’ve all shared a few laughs watching Adult Swim’s outlandish sci-fi comedy cartoon Rick and Morty, which follows the titular characters as they go on space-faring adventures that parody a huge backlog of science fiction clichés. The show rarely holds its punches and often treads a thin line between the boundaries of political correctness, a line that the one of show’s co-creators, Justin Roiland, seems to have crossed many times in the real world.
News has been steadily surfacing about the showrunner’s conduct, particularly in regard to how his actions are not only emblematic of a persistent problem in showbiz but also of one that’s reflected in his own show. From the moment Roiland first faced accusations and the revealing signs Rick and Morty fans found throughout the show, to the creator’s recent tweet about the whole situation, here’s everything you need to know.
It was Thursday 12 January 2023 when things first began to circulate. Reports revealed that the increasingly controversial creator was facing domestic violence charges—stemming from an incident with a former girlfriend that took place in 2020. If found guilty, Roiland could serve up to seven years in prison.
As reported by the BBC, the allegations against the cartoon creator were brought up by an anonymous Jane Doe who police say was in a “dating relationship” with Roiland at the time of the incident. The exact charges imply domestic battery with corporal injury and false imprisonment by menace, violence, fraud and/or deceit.
Of course, in classic fashion, Roiland’s legal team have vehemently denied any wrongdoing and assert that the District Attorney’s office will dismiss the case once it has gone through review. In the meantime, the Ricky and Morty creator has been ordered to keep at least 100 feet away from the accuser at all times and to not harass her. The case was initially due to resume on 27 April 2023.
If you thought that things couldn’t get much worse for the infamous voice behind the show’s headline characters, then you’re in for a surprise. Only days after it was revealed that Roiland is facing domestic violence charges, DMs between him and several women were leaked online, highlighting a creepy and sinister side to the critically-acclaimed director.
The first conversation comes straight from the receipts of Allie Goertz, former MAD magazine editor and pop culture musician. She first crossed paths with Roiland in 2015 after she created a Rick and Morty concept album. What followed was sexually explicit and racially charged messages from Roiland, which he inevitably tried to cover up by claiming he was drunk. Those who are squeamish, scroll past because these messages are incredibly difficult to digest.
Goertz revealed that this unpleasant interaction completely turned her off Rick and Morty—insanely understandable. Of course, this was a highly upsetting situation, particularly considering the musician had devoted so much of her time to making a concept album for the show.
The next DMs come from a since-deleted Twitter post revealing sexually explicit messages from Roiland towards a minor. The language used in the messages is consistent with what we have seen of the creator in the past—reflecting a nasty pattern. Warning again: these ones are vomit-worthy.
Even without context, the messages above are disturbing. However, the story becomes that bit more unsettling when you find out that the recipient was only 16 at the time. Not only is Roiland creepily obsessing over her being “jailbait,” but he even spouts racist jokes in an attempt to be funny. Once again, heavily toxic and problematic.
Roiland’s gross attitudes were once again highlighted in a clip from an episode of The Grandma’s Virginity Podcast from 2011, where he detailed how he feels bad for victims of Chris Hansen’s famous To Catch a Predator, saying that the girls they lure the men in with have “fully developed” bodies, adding that “of course, I’m attracted to that.”
Another clip from the same podcast had Roiland saying: “100 years ago, it was little 13-year-old girls—if they were built like a woman, they were getting married and having kids. And now we’re going to be all precious about it?” Yikes is the only word that comes to mind. The creator clearly has a history with these sorts of attitudes and how they snuck under the radar for so long is unbeknown to us.
As upsetting as it is to admit, red flags begin to crop up when you revisit some of the cult show’s episodes—signs that point to Roiland’s disturbing sense of humour and problematic attitudes.
Ex-fans that were shocked by the leaked messages took to TikTok to joke that Mr Jellybean (a giant anthropomorphic jelly bean that featured in an episode of season one) was actually a self-insert for Roiland himself. While the character appears innocent to begin with, things take a turn when Mr Jellybean tries to sexually assault Morty. The scene is graphic, intense, and heavily bothersome considering everything that has now come to light.
The show also included a number of instances depicting sexual interactions between characters described as minors—nothing overly graphic, but still oddly gratuitous. Moreover, some fans have also complained online about the hefty amount of incest jokes features in the series.
We’re not out of the woods just yet. In 2018, the video game development studio Squanch Games, which Roiland founded back in August 2016, was sued for alleged sexual harassment, discrimination and wrongful termination, something that was kept as quiet as possible up until recently.
Although the accused isn’t Roiland himself in this case, this additional revelation clearly highlights the toxic environment fostered at a company run by the American voice actor. The lawsuit comes from designer Sarah Doukakos, who alleged she was harassed and belittled by then-technical director, Jeff Dixon.
The case went on to state that Dixon repeatedly crossed numerous lines with Doukakos, through the giving of things like unwanted and unsolicited hugs, as well as repeatedly undermining her gameplay suggestions.
When the victim went to upper management with the worrying claims, she was dismissed and no action was taken against Dixon. The lawsuit went on to say that Doukakos was eventually fired as a result of her speaking up against the technical director, and that the termination was unwarranted.
On Wednesday 25 January, the official Adult Swim Instagram account shared the news that it had “ended its association with Justin Roiland.” That being said, the cartoon network also added that Rick and Morty would still be going on, with the rest of the crew already hard at work on season seven.
Meanwhile, Squanch Games also cut ties with its founder, but like Adult Swim, noted that it still plans on creating more video games.
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According to NBC News, Disney-owned subscription streaming service Hulu has done the same, with Roiland having been dropped from his other cartoon, Solar Opposites, as well as the recently released Koala Man, a show that the disgraced voice actor was also an executive producer on.
Despite these big networks all taking a stance against Roiland, it’s doubtful that nobody knew of his conduct earlier. It seems like this was an easy way out for these companies—a chance to escape without admitting any culpability. And it’s not only them avoiding any kind of backlash. It’s just now been revealed that Roiland himself will walk free.
On Tuesday 22 March, Roiland took to Twitter to share a long message captioned “justice.” In it, he stated that the suit was based on “the word of an embittered ex trying to bypass due process and get me cancelled,” adding that the lawsuit had ended, and that he was “determined to move forward” with his life and creative career.
A spokesperson for the Orange County District Attorney’s office told Kotaku that the case was dismissed “for lack of sufficient evidence to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt as a result of additional information that came to light in the investigation.” The publication also reached out to Roiland’s lawyers, but could not obtain a comment.
Though we certainly hope that Roiland’s career will slowly crash and burn, fans will be happy to hear that his various shows are planning to go ahead. That being said, we can’t help but wonder what shape they’ll take without him, given the integral part his many voices played in them. Who knows, maybe AI will lend a helping hand in replacing the creator?