To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Netflix’s most successful attempt yet at the lost art of the romantic comedy, made a lot of people very happy. The adaptation of Jenny Han’s 2014 young-adult novel is funny, heart-hurting, and, most importantly, pure: from John Corbett’s teary-eyed, wine-sipping portrayal of a sensitive dad to protagonist Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) becoming the star of her very own romance.
To help Lara out of her journal and into the wild world of hot tub hookups and couples’ Instagram posts, Covey has two potential love interests: Josh Sanderson, her best friend who also happens to be her sister’s boyfriend, and Peter Kavinsky, a high school heartthrob with a lax bro exterior who really just wants to sit next to Lara Jean on the ski trip bus and open up to her about his deadbeat dad. While Peter Kavinsky is the highest quality crush this film has to offer—I present the following tweets, and rest my case—Lara Jean starts out pretty stuck on the emo boy next door, Josh Sanderson. It’s not outlandish; Israel Broussard (who plays Josh) and Noah Centineo (Peter) are both snacks. Plus, anyone who hasn’t mistook a collection of flannel shirts and severe mopey-ness for a personality has never been in high school.
Josh Sanderson and Peter Kavinsky are not real-life teens—they’re high school archetypes-turned-fantasies, and both the actors who portray them are in their early 20s. But To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a rare opportunity to suspend disbelief, put aside adult skepticism for a little while, and watch a smart, funny, Korean-American protagonist straddle her happy ending. So, how dare that Bon Iver wannabe Josh Sanderson—or, more accurately, the actor Israel Broussard—puncture the TATBILB bubble and make everything bad again.
Almost immediately after the movie launched on Netflix, fans flocked to Twitter to caution viewers against stanning Sanderson, citing Broussard’s problematic social media presence. While Broussard appears to have deleted some of his offensive posts, one particularly vile archived tweet from July 2011 reads, “Dogs can sense earthquakes. Too bad Japan ate them all.” As Broussard whistleblower @Seb_Paradise pointed out in a thread, “He tweeted that on 12 July 2011, just 2 days after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, likely an aftershock of the Tohoku earthquake, hit the northeastern coast of Japan. Instead of offering condolences, Broussard chose to racially insult Japanese people. This just shows how much he values Asians.”
Another Twitter user shared screenshots of posts that appear to be from Broussard’s Twitter account, which the user claims have since been deleted. In 2009, he allegedly wrote, “I’m not going out for a gay role, thank you though.” A 2016 post says, “Black Lives Matter has one goal. Division.” and “hashtags don’t fucking matter. but all lives do. black lives matter. white lives matter. police lives matter.” Another alleged 2016 tweet reads, “if it were trumps emails, they’d be happy to hang him on the front lawn of the White House.”
But while those tweets are bad enough, Broussard’s likes were apparently even messier. Shared screenshots show that his recent likes included Trump and Marco Rubio tweets, and multiple gems from Ben Shapiro, such as, “The travel ban is not Japanese internment. Immigration enforcement is not Nazi Germany. READ A F***ING BOOK.” A twitter user captioned their post, “Look at this! These are some of Israel Broussard's most recent likes. It really sucks that this man got to star in the rare film that had an Asian-American woman as the romantic lead,” adding, “Seriously, Israel Broussard's likes are the biggest: pro gun, pro Trump, pro Ben fucking Shapiro, anti Muslims, blacks and women, MESS.”
The actor isn’t the first pop culture figure felled by his recent likes—the latest Bachelorette winner, Garrett Yrigoyen, plunged into controversy after his alt-right likes were exposed. The fact that Yrigoyen was outed as a consumer of transphobic, anti-immigrant, conspiracy-spreading memes even as he was courting the #resistance-leaning Bachelorette Becca Kufrin onscreen somehow managed to make the franchise even more depressing. It became impossible to watch the show without thinking about Kufrin a few months later, kicked out of the mansion, sharing sponsored couples’ posts on social media and slowly coming to terms with the fact that her fiancé may or may not think that David Hogg is a crisis actor.
Broussard, like Yrigoyen before him, has apologized for his social media trail—without really addressing the shitty beliefs at the heart of the backlash. Yesterday, Broussard tweeted out an apology, writing, “I am deeply sorry for my inappropriate and insensitive words and likes on social media. I take full responsibility for my actions and I sincerely apologize. This has been a pivotal life lesson for me. I am dedicated to becoming a more informed and educated version of myself.” Reactions were mixed; someone replied, “he didn't change, he only deleted the tweets cause he got called out, not because he was sorry.”
Another twitter user responded, “LOL, what person thinks Ben Shapiro is some great intellectual and then ‘learns’ overnight? That kind of stupid takes years to unlearn.”