It seems like the polite thing to say to a young man is, “You’d make a great father.”
I don’t think anyone has ever said that to me.
And they are right. I can definitely see myself being a horrible father. Some men just aren’t built to be great parents.
I could see myself resenting my child because I am wasting my money and the last decent years of my life on him without getting enough gratitude in return.
I could see myself resenting my child because my years of opportunity have come and gone while his have just begun.
Worst of all, I could see myself not liking my child. I don’t like everyone I’m related to. What happens if I stop liking my kid? Do I ruin his life and my own?
I would never walk out on my child. No chance. I am above that. But I am not above being miserable and angry. And I am not above drinking myself to death.
Am I a bad person? Yeah, maybe. Am I alone? Heck no. “Fences” is a raw, honest drama that explores what happens when a guy like me has some children. Spoiler alert: it’s bad for everybody involved.
Denzel Washington plays Troy Maxson: former Negro League baseball slugger and current jerk.
On paper, Troy has a sweet life. He has a solid career, a loyal wife, and two healthy sons who yearn for his approval. But Troy can’t stop obsessing over what he used to be, what he should have been, and what he wants but can’t have.
Denzel Washington has a special talent for playing foolish, self-destructive alpha-males. Troy is one of Denzel’s most memorable characters. Troy passionately rages against time, fate, reality, and sobriety even though we all know he is destined to lose.
The tragedy of Troy is that all he ever needed to do was learn to be content with his humble life.
The film contrasts Troy with his brother Gabriel. On paper, Gabriel has a terrible life. He was severely wounded in WWII and has a metal plate in his head. Gabriel will never be able to land a job or a wife, and he has the mental capacity of a 7-year-old.
But Gabriel is happy. He is obsessed with the afterlife and he believes that he will play a part in convincing St. Peter to open the gates of heaven to himself and the people he loves.
If only Troy had been able to learn something from his little brother. Or if only Troy had had the good sense to understand how selfish he is and just never have any children.
Don’t worry, World readers: I do understand how selfish I am. I don’t have any kids.