An old video press interview for Marvel Studios‘ Spider-Man: Homecoming has resurfaced among K-Pop fans.
Veteran K-Pop fans might be familiar with soloist Eric Nam as having done many celebrity interviews. Many first became introduced to him as he was a host of After School Club. Yet, for a while, he was also the “go-to” interviewer anytime Western celebrities promoted their films in Korea since he’s Korean-American.
So, he’s interviewed many of your favorite celebrities, not just K-Pop idols. Examples include Academy Award winner Emma Stone to Avengers Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey Jr.
One interview in particular, though, has resurfaced with clips going viral on social media. It’s his interview with British actor Tom Holland and American actor Jacob Batalon when they promoted Spider-Man: Homecoming in Korea. It’s also garnered mixed reactions.
— Twitter Movies (@TwitterMovies) December 17, 2021
He has also done quite a lot of Korea-based interviews since and is quite respectful and appreciative of the culture.
In his interview with 영국남자 Korean Englishman, he was joined by Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, and Pom Klementieff. During it, the cast tried many popular Korean foods, and Holland enjoyed everything so much that he even mentioned visiting a nearby store back home so he could buy more in the future.
However, netizens are viewing his first Korea-based interview differently.
A clip from Eric Nam’s interview with Tom Holland and Jacob Batalon from when they promoted Spider-Man: Homecoming in Korea was posted on TikTok by Lena (@1mdrum on TikTok). She called it one of her “favorite interviews” yet didn’t expect it to blow up. After just a day, it has gone viral with 1.6 million views as of the time of writing.
Tom Holland: You speak great English, my man. How did you learn English?
Eric Nam: I’m American.
Generally, the response has been positive. Many found the clip amusing as Tom Holland was clearly shook and regretful after complimenting Eric’s English and asking him how he learned, only to find out that he’s American.
It’s common for American or Canadian K-Pop idols to be asked about their English as assumptions are made. Yet, rather than find Tom Holland’s question offensive, some called it a reverse of how K-Pop idols are shocked to find that Koreans outside of Korea know Korean. When ATEEZ guested on YouTube channel REACT, they were stunned when a Korean-American spoke to them in their native language. Likewise, many K-Pop idols are pleasantly surprised when Korean-American interviewer Ellie Lee speaks to them in Korean.
As with any viral TikTok, it ended up on Twitter as well. Many were shocked to find out that these two celebrities had not only met but one was interviewed by the other.
wait Eric Nam and Tom Holland, this video clip feels soo unreal.
Eric 🤝 Felix 🤝 Johnny pic.twitter.com/uxjjuR1A5X
— yugs 🥰 (@chaoticbin_) March 23, 2022
ERIC NAM INTERVIEWED TOM HOLLAND?!! pic.twitter.com/QQX4NOdgXR
— rani (@bangpinkhome) March 22, 2022
ERIC NAM AND TOM HOLLAND DID AN INTERVIEW TOGETHER BEFORE AND NO ONE TOLD ME
— paula ☻ VAN DAY 🔩 (@8makes1bong) March 22, 2022
Yet, many were also deeply disturbed by Tom Holland’s statement and question directed at Eric Nam. Some have even gone so far as to label Holland a “racist” and block him on social media now.
It’s blown up not only internationally but even South Korea… four years ago when the video was originally shared. News outlets around the world covered it, and Korean netizens were also offended on behalf of Eric Nam, although Nam himself had said that he received hate when he first started making a career in Korea as he didn’t know the language well. In his MINDSET collection, he opened up about how he was perceived as “rude” because he was not yet familiar with traditional Korean manners.
‘Sing like a Korean person.’ …I can’t do it. I didn’t grow up with that sound.
— Eric Nam
'Racism' is trending in Korea and netizens are pissed at Tom Holland for saying 'You speak great English, How did you learn it?' to Eric Nam
— 끌레🍁 (@ohmyjunsu) July 15, 2017
Watching the video clip of Tom Holland and Eric Nam in its original context (the interview is almost half an hour), viewers don’t perceive it that badly.
There are a few things to take into account. Since the interview is four years old, Holland, who was 21 years old, had not done much press overseas as Spider-Man was his first major role, and the interview was conducted in South Korea. Live subtitles weren’t working for the live stream during filming, so Nam spoke in English and translated in Korea for it.
Both actors, including Holland and Batalon, were impressed. So, based on location and circumstances, they assumed that the interviewer, Eric Nam, was a native Korean.
Many netizens didn’t find issues with the interview and Tom Holland’s comments when viewed in context.
b/c some people are too sensitive to the point that everything is offensive to them 🙁
— k 🌺 (@prdsjebong) July 15, 2017
There was a debate in the comment section when it was originally posted on YouTube. Yet, most comments were positive.
Some even sympathized with Holland.
In 2017, international netizens found it hypocritical that K-Netizens were offended considering consistent issues of cultural appropriation in K-Pop and K-Dramas, as well as other reported instances of racism.
Still, today, K-Pop fans, especially fans of Eric Nam, are deeply disturbed by others finding humor in the video clip. They, too, are saying it’s “hypocritical,” as many preach “Stop Asian Hate,” yet excuse microaggressions.
“Microaggressions” was first corned in 1970 by Harvard University psychiatrist Chester M. Pierce. According to Dr. D.W. Sue, who helped popularize the term in Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation., said that microaggression is a “term used for commonplace daily verbal, behavioral or environmental slights, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative attitudes toward stigmatized or culturally marginalized groups.”
Eric Nam has been on the receiving end of microaggressions many times. He has been open and candid about it on multiple occasions.
In many ways, it makes me feel like, ‘Do I not belong here?,’ ‘Why am I here?,’ and ‘How do I identify?’ I think this is something that so many of us in the community have dealt with our entire lives and I think that’s why so much of this racism can also be very casual and can kind of sneak up on us in many ways.
— Eric Nam
#AsianAmericans feel like "perpetual foreigners" in their own country, says Atlanta born #K-pop star Eric Nam @ericnamofficial And he says warning signs of anti Asian sentiment have been there – just not heeded.
#StopAsianHate #StopAAPIHate #EricNam pic.twitter.com/QrMJSBbRqU
— Michael Holmes (@holmescnn) March 22, 2021
Still, Eric Nam is a mental health advocate and generally discourages cancel culture. As co-founder of DIVE Studios, he’s provided a platform for diverse individuals to speak on serious topics.
Of course, it’s always right to hold someone accountable for their actions. But is it fair to dig up something from one’s past and not only judge them on it but “cancel” them for it? No one is free of wrongdoing and shameful mistakes, and we also are not who we once were in the past.