Mark Wahlberg – From Marky Mark, to Boogie Nights, and now Ted: Analysis of Mark Wahlberg’s Career Transitions
Mark Wahlberg stars alongside Mila Kunis in the newly released adult comedy Ted. Directed by Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane, this movie is just what you would expect; offensive and hilarious. It allows for the average grown-up, washed-up, messed-up, 30-something adult to escape their life for two hours, and laugh at the raunchy on-screen friendship between John (played by Wahlberg) and Ted (voiced by MacFarlane). Although this movie is a humorous success, what strikes me most as ultimately comedic is the ever-changing film/career choices made by Wahlberg.
Let’s go back to Mark Wahlberg as “Marky Mark”. Originally one of New Kids on the Block’s first members, along with Donnie (Mark’s older brother), Mark left the group at age thirteen and went on to work on his own career, leading to Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. When I was young, I was obsessed with New Kids on the Block. It was my first live concert. I kissed Joe McIntyre’s poster every morning and every night, religiously. I had all the dolls, including Donnie, which wasn’t the prize of the collection (he looked like a monkey, and was always the last one left on the department store shelf). But when I think back to Marky Mark, I remember feeling he was “creepy” in a perverse, sexual way. Maybe it was all those workout videos he did that looked like he was about to strip naked, and start doing soft-core porn. Take a look for yourself:
Then we all remember him in the 1996 thriller Fear, alongside the innocent Reese Witherspoon. Prior to seeing this film, I was unhappy with my boyfriend, and felt as though I didn’t get enough attention – ya, ya always the same story, but it was true! He was 19 (drinking age in Canada) and going to bars, while I was stuck hanging out in my parent’s basement with my high-school friends. You get the picture. Anyways, I digress. After watching Fear, I was EXTREMELY satisfied with my relationship (for a few more months). Again, Mark Wahlberg leaves you with a creepy and perverse impression of him. Plus this time, can you say “psycho”? Here is the trailer:
Now on to, Boogie Nights, one of my all-time favorite films. I thought the story line was appealing, the casting was bang-on (come on, Burt Reynolds!) and the prosthetic penis climax was an admirable word-of-mouth exposure (no pun intended). But yet again, you get the jeez-Mark-is-a-pervert feeling, plus pity for his poor, sex and drug addicted character. Here is the trailer:
After this, Mark ventured into a series of action films and dramas (The Italian Job, The Departed, The Lovely Bones, etc) apparently trying to shake the image he had created for himself by his erotic career choices. I don’t blame the dude. His acting is questionable at times, and his singing was sub-par, so he did what only every guy would do if they had the chance; he exploited his body and sexual nature (don’t forget about the half-naked Calvin Klein ads). I think this change was a good one for Mark. It dampened the disturbing street-kid appeal he had, allowing for further script choices.
It appears that once he was confident in his life, career, and abilities, Mark chose to do more comedic-type roles again: Date Night, The Other Guys – and now Ted. He certainly has had a very diverse resume, and a persona that attracts both men and women. He has managed successfully to carry his career from the 80’s until now. So you tell me, has Mark Wahlberg been able to shake his sexual stereotype, or is he still trying to act with his shirt off?
Peace Out, and in the words of Marky Mark: POW!
P.S. Mark I love you, and the Fighter was awesome
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