It has been a pretty eventful couple of weeks, what with the Sony hacking scandal, the climate deal with China, the president’s executive action on immigration, the opening of Cuba, the fall of Bill Cosby, and the release of my Christmas song, so you can be forgiven if you missed the story where Mark Wahlberg outed himself as one of the worst human beings in public life.
The Artist Formerly Known As Marky Mark sent a formal request to outgoing Massachussetts governor Deval Patrick, asking for a formal pardon for a 1988 incident where he beat one man with a stick while robbing a convenience store and punched another while evading the police.
Wahlberg served 45 days in jail for this little adventure, and has obviously gone on to fame and fortune as one of our most ubiquitous movie stars. He paid his debt to society. But for some reason he wants the incident stricken entirely from the record, as though it never happened, maybe because his criminal record is interfering with his business interests as a restaurateur or whatever.
Ironically, I never heard about any of this before the pardon request went public, so Wahlberg’s effort to cleanse his record is having the opposite effect, at least with me.
Firstly, consider the crime itself: Wahlberg broke a five-foot stick over a guy’s head while shouting racial slurs at him and robbing his store, and then punched someone else trying to get away from the police. That is awfully similar to the chain of events that led to Mike Brown’s death in Ferguson a couple of months ago. The only ways it’s different are the ways it’s worse: he didn’t just shove the clerk at the store, he broke a board over his head, and he didn’t just leave a red mark on the next guy he ran into, he blinded him, and he was hollering epithets at everybody every step of the way, even once he was in custody. And yet nobody shot him. So weird, right?
If you ask me, getting off with only 45 days for BLINDING SOMEBODY is as close to a pardon as you can get. If this slap on the wrist is slowing Wahlberg’s roll somewhat as a businessman, he should consider himself lucky that he got off so easy in the first place, not complain about it.
Secondly, reporting around this story has uncovered other incidents like this in Wahlberg’s youth, including one where he threw rocks at an elementary school class and shouted more racial slurs. One might think these are just the rough edges around a kid that grew up in a bad neighborhood (Dorchester, MA) that got sanded off once he got a little cash in his pocket. But discussing this with a friend I was directed to this story about how even when he was having success running around in his tighty-whites singing “Good Vibrations” he was a thug and a dick; he spent the 1991 MTV Rock N’ Jock Basketball game (Wiki it) taking the game way too seriously and talking enough smack at young Leo DiCaprio to start a feud that almost derailed Wahlberg’s movie career before it started. (If he hadn’t been in BASKETBALL DIARIES, and he never would have gotten BOOGIE NIGHTS.)
That got me to thinking about this guy in general. Remember when he said he could have (partially) prevented 9/11?
“If I was on that plane with my kids, it wouldn’t have went down like it did. There would have been a lot of blood in that first-class cabin and then me saying, ‘Okay, we’re going to land somewhere safely, don’t worry.'”
What about this, when a junket journalist made the mistake of calling him an action star (at the 2:05 mark)?
Did you also know he claimed he could knock out Manny Pacquiao (after admitting to getting into two different fights in the recent past)?
Did you know that his former bodyguard has a lot to say about whether Wahlberg should be pardoned? (SPOILER ALERT: He’s against it.)
Did you also know he was in THE HAPPENING and TRANSFORMERS 4 and PAIN & GAIN and 2 GUNS and — worst of all — created ENTOURAGE?
I can think of one, and only one good movie Mark Wahlberg was in and that was BOOGIE NIGHTS. But what made him right for the character was a certain woodenness that has worked against him in all his other roles — kind of like Keanu in THE MATRIX. In any case BOOGIE NIGHTS is a great movie, one of my all-time favorites, and is obviously, undisputably the whole reason his name isn’t still Marky Mark. Right?
A little Google research brought me to this post where the author wonders whether Wahlberg is an asshole, and presents several pieces of incriminating evidence, including the threat to the junket guy. Then he goes on:
What got me on this quest was listening to his commentary in BOOGIE NIGHTS where his phone keeps going off loudly and he never bothers to silence it and at another point he takes a call from his travel agent. The director of the film, Paul Thomas Anderson, had great conversations with the other members of the cast, all of them pointing out scenes they liked and elements of the characters, often characters that weren’t theirs, that they enjoyed, while Mark Wahlberg just asked when it was over because he had to go, bitching about the movie being too long. With the other cast members, the conversation just flowed, but with Wahlberg, he had to be prompted to say things, and without fail he would let out a big loud yawn and talk through his yawn.
So this knucklehead can’t even be bothered to discuss the movie that handed him his career. He should be on his knees in front of Paul Thomas Anderson’s house every night, offering to sweep up.
I listened to Wahlberg on Bill Simmons’ podcast several weeks back, thinking Simmons’ Boston bona fides and oft-professed love of BOOGIE NIGHTS would get Wahlberg to show a little personality. I didn’t even make it halfway through. Wahlberg was sullen, monosyllabic, and sounded guarded and defensive even as Simmons was unreservedly praising everything he’s ever done, even as Simmons steered the discussion to Boston sports.
I think the evidence clearly shows that this guy is a prick. Not only should he not be pardoned, I think everyone needs to know that this guy is a douchebag and we need to AT LEAST give him the Mel Gibson treatment.
Mel Gibson said a lot of fucked up stuff. Racist, sexist, misogynist stuff, all of it horrifying, and it has led to the end of his Hollywood career. (It’s been four years since the tapes surfaced and he has yet to appear in anything, apart from THE EXPENDABLES 3, which did not exactly herald a comeback.
But Gibson never hurt anyone, put his hands on anyone, altered anyone for life. He just said a bunch of fucked-up stuff. Wahlberg BLINDED somebody. He didn’t just use racial epithets, he used them while he threw rocks, while he broke a stick over someone’s head. I am not suggesting that what Mel Gibson did wasn’t wrong, just that Wahlberg was much, much worse.
When Andy Samberg did his very funny “Mark Wahlberg Talks To Animals” sketch on Saturday Night Live it was popular enough that, like any popular sketch on SNL, it got repeated a bunch of times, enough that eventually they brought Wahlberg himself on to do a meta-sketch about it. And it was here that we finally saw the real Mark Wahlberg: sullen, threatening, bullying.
So I am using the considerable reach of this blog to call for a boycott of Mark Wahlberg, starting now. If it means I don’t get to see THE GAMBLER or TRANSFORMERS 5 or THE SIX BILLION DOLLAR MAN, that’s just a sacrifice I’ll have to make.
I’ll still probably have to stop on BOOGIE NIGHTS if I run across it on cable though. Because, you know, Rollergirl.