Mark Wahlberg stars in the new Transformers, out this weekend, directed by Michael Bay. So, basically, the highest concentration of DUDE in a movie you’ll ever see. To promote the movie, Mark is doing press, talking about his kids. He has four of them. Of his sons, he says:
"My boys are obsessed with everything sports. The first thing out of their mouths in the morning when their eyes are barely open is, 'Dad, did the Clippers win?'”
And of his daughters:
"The boys will be difficult in some ways that the girls won't, but I'm dreading the teenage years with my daughters; it's not going to be easy for them to go on a date. But I'm hoping one nice, nerdy boy will come into each of their lives at the right time when they're twenty-something and they'll be with that person forever."
Fine. But what if his daughters bring home a nice, nerdy girl?
We all do this. We presume that children will follow “convention”. But, as we’ve all seen, language can promote stereotypes. And when kids pick up on those stereotypes, it makes it more difficult for them in their differences. When a young girl starts figuring out her sexuality, she might struggle with those expectations. “My dad always thought I’d bring home a boy.”
The word “privilege” has been mentioned a lot recently. I’ve been trying to work on my “straight privilege” for a while, checking my own perspective, sometimes not successfully but, hopefully, over time, with more awareness. Over the last week in particular, during World Pride events here in Toronto, I’ve been increasingly sensitive to how our culture, so rooted in straight privilege, can alienate those in the LGBT community. “I’m hoping she brings home a nerdy boy” seems like an innocent, even affectionate comment. But over time, and with repetition, in volume, the effect is that it’s setting a “norm”. And “norms” are often the problem.
As it relates to Mark Wahlberg, I do wonder about his attitude to the “norm”, what his reaction would be to this kind of discussion, what he would do if his boys didn’t care for basketball, what he would do if they fell in love with another boy. I can never shake the quote that he gave a few years ago when he was sent the script for Brokeback Mountain:
"I met with Ang Lee on that movie, I read 15 pages of the script and got a little creeped out. It was very graphic, descriptive - the spitting on the hand, getting ready to do the thing. I told Ang Lee, 'I like you, you're a talented guy, if you want to talk about it more...' Thankfully, he didn't. I didn't rush to see Brokeback, it's just not my deal...”