The amazing Claire Zulkey asked me to read at her Funny Ha-Ha series so obviously I said yes though I performed a slightly different version of the piece posted below. Andrew Huff of Gapers Block graciously asked me to be a part of 8×8, an event that matched writers with designers to create an original piece of work. I submitted this piece in the form below as the original had a whole bit where I rap (it makes a kind of sense in context) and while it worked well in a live setting, it didn’t work as well as pure text. Andrew paired me with Kyle Fletcher and he created a piece that perfectly captured the mix of humor and horror in my meager words. You can view his design here. The text I used for that show works better when read so it’s used here. If you really want to hear me rap, ply me with liquor.
Just in case you’ve been thinking about more important things like your family, your job or how to immortalize your cat’s moments of hilarity on film and ride them to YouTube-fueled glory, let me get you up to speed on what Mark Wahlberg recently said in an interview with Men’s Journal magazine.
In addition to discussing his thoughts on being a parent, producing the TV show Entourage and his past as an underpants model, Wahlberg made a brief mention of what he would have done had he been on one of the planes the terrorists crashed into the World Trade Center on 9/11. It’s not a completely out of left field topic for a reporter to ask about: were it not for a change of plans several days prior, Wahlberg would have been on one of the flights that took off from Boston that morning.
And it’s a real shame he wasn’t. Because according to Mark Wahlberg, Mark Wahlberg would have saved untold numbers of lives that day. In the interview, he says:
“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, ‘OK, we’re going to land somewhere safely, don’t worry.’”
I swear that’s an exact quote.
Now, if you were listening carefully you probably didn’t hear anything in that quote that comes close to Mark Wahlberg saying he hates America. Technically, he didn’t. But apparently he thinks everyone on those three planes is a total pussy. Even the ones who rushed the cockpit of Flight 93, fought a bunch of terrorists and prevented the plane from crashing into a building in Washington D.C. And since America decided long ago that the people aboard Flight 93 symbolized all that is great about the American virtues of self-sacrifice, patriotism and courage then metaphorically speaking, Mark Wahlberg hates America. Or at least thinks America is a total pussy.
To the average person, Wahlberg’s statement reeks of Hollywood braggadocio: Planeloads of people weren’t enough to prevent the tragedy of that day yet somehow his specific combination of genetics and personality would have made the difference. But consider how often Mark Wahlberg sees his image projected on a screen thirty feet high. That has to give you an inflated sense of self. Plus, if you make it through a movie like I Heart Huckabees with your career more or less intact you start to think you can do pretty much anything.
Ever since Mark Wahlberg said Mark Wahlberg could have prevented 9/11, I’ve been trying to imagine how things might have been different. What particular Wahlbergian je ne sais quoi would have succeeded where others had failed? Would it have been like his movie Four Brothers wherein Wahlberg bands together a seemingly-estranged group of young men who fight against a common enemy? Alas, no. That film had not yet been made in 2001 so any skills at building camaraderie amongst a dissimilar people would not be his until 2005. Even his early film work in Boogie Nights would not have helped him as terrorists are immune to large prosthetic penises.
No, it seems clear how Wahlberg would have made his valiant stand for freedom that September morning: He would have drawn on his time in Boston’s mean streets and fought the terrorists…with Good Vibrations…Funky Bunch-style (ooo-ooo): He rises from his first-class seat (yeeaaaahh), bare-chested and dressed in a pair of dark jeans (can you feel it baby) and backwards baseball cap (I can too) gold chain reflecting in the early morning sunlight (bum bum bum bum bum, bum bum bum bum bum). As he approaches the Saudi terrorists (come on swing it) who seek to strike fear into the heart of America (come on swing it), he begins to slowly wrap his hands in boxers’ tape and bring forth the rhythm and the rhyme.
Oh terrorists, he would have gotten his and you would have gotten yours. In fact, there would have been sweat comin’ out your pores. For on the house tip is how he would have been swinging it, strictly hip hop, boy, he wouldn’t be singin’ it.
Indeed, if Wahlberg were on that plane – with his kids- it wouldn’t have went down like it did at all. Marky Mark would have been there to move you, the vibrations would have been good like Sunkist and ya’ll would have known who done this. There would have been a lot of partyin’ on the positive side and then him saying, ‘OK, we’re going to land somewhere safely, don’t worry.” Because makin’ you feel the rhythm is his occupation.
It all makes sense now. Evil is allowed to triumph over good because of one simple reason: Mark Wahlberg is but one man and he cannot be everywhere at once. He is human, like all of us, and is bound by the rules of time and space. Imagine, if you will, a Mark Wahlberg who could defy physics, slipping in and out of the timestream to revisit history’s greatest disasters.
“If I was in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina with my kids those levees wouldn’t have went down like they did. There would have been a 70% margin over the maximum design load and then me saying “OK, we’re going to have a shrimp po’ boy now, don’t worry.”
“If I was around during the Holocaust with my kids it wouldn’t have went down like it did. There would have been a lot of Nazi blood in Auschwitz and then me saying to the Jews, ‘OK, we’re going to go enjoy some rugala, don’t worry.’”
“If I was in Europe during the mid 14th Century with my kids the Black Death wouldn’t have gone down like it did. There would have been a lot of me stopping the spread of flea-infested rats from the merchant ships that traveled through the Mediterranean and then me saying, ‘OK, we’re going to go start the Renaissance now, don’t worry.’”
Having spent the last few pages mocking him, I want to admit something here: I think I get where Mark Wahlberg’s coming from. Having read the full Men’s Journal interview, I can tell you the 9/11 quote comes out of nowhere. There’s nothing else in the interview about 9/11 but that quote and there’s no indication why the topic was raised in the first place. But I can imagine the writer probably got Wahlberg to talking about his change in travel plans and whatever survivor’s guilt he might have felt. Then they might have talked about what would have happened if he had been on the plane and, say, you’re a father now can you imagine what it would have been like if your kids were on that flight with you?
I became a father on February 28th, 2011 at 5:23 pm. At approximately 5:24pm I began imagining elaborate scenarios that would require me to defend the health and safety of my child from enemies, both foreign and domestic. In the year since she was born, I have mentally defeated a significant number of robbers, home invaders, hitchhikers, creepy department store Santas, murderous pediatricians, ninjas, space aliens, Kim Jong Il and his just-recently installed successor Kim Jong Un. Also, if I was Bruce Wayne’s dad? My son never would have become Batman, OK? That mugging in the alley wouldn’t have went down like it did. I would have kicked the shit out of that guy and then me saying, ‘OK, we’re going to go have some ice cream, Bruce, don’t worry.’”
So if I was lulled into a conversation about a tragic situation I’d managed to avoid and then someone asked what I might have done had my daughter been there, I could see how I might have expressed a wee bit of machismo. And the closest I’ve ever come to being Mark Wahlberg is watching The Departed via Comcast On Demand.
Clearly, Wahlberg and I share a love of elaborate revenge fantasies and making tough guy faces while posing in our underwear. But I’m not sure he or I would have fared better than anyone else on those planes that day. Let’s put this in perspective: Mark Wahlberg starred in a Planet of the Apes remake and he couldn’t even prevent Tim Burton from giving it that shitty Abraham Lincoln-with-a-monkey-head ending. I know it’s not a direct correlation to terrorist-fighting ability but come on…
Plus, Mark Wahlberg’s kids weren’t even born in 2001 so they wouldn’t have been on that plane in the first place. But in the moments when there isn’t a reporter around asking him questions about it, he’s probably just as grateful for that as I am about never having to defend my daughter from Kim Jong Un.
But I could totally do it if I needed to. That guy’s a pussy.
Feel it, feel it.