The magic behind the muscles
July 14, 2018 12:25 AM   Subscribe

 
The Rock has more charisma and comedic chops in his left bicep than Arnold ever had.
posted by straight at 12:50 AM on July 14 [28 favorites]


He's just so damn likeable.
posted by rokusan at 1:40 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


The Rock has more charisma and comedic chops in his left bicep than Arnold ever had.

But I hear their right deltoids are roughly comparable for humourous content.
posted by howfar at 1:48 AM on July 14 [12 favorites]


Yes, but will he be back?
posted by DreamerFi at 2:30 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Wasn’t he recently being wined and dined by the Saudis in a PR blitz to cover up their terrible human rights practices?

I could have sworn there was recent discussion here on the Blue positing that it was part of a shift to Johnson possibly running for office?

I swear, normally that previous sentence would make me think I’m losing my mind, but in this timeline...
posted by darkstar at 2:32 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


...actually, upon further consideration, Schwarzenegger became Governor of the nation’s most populous state (and the fifth largest economy in the world), and probably only missed being elected US President because he wasn’t a naturalized citizen, so it’s not all that odd, at all.

Given his popularity, The Rock could probably have the White House if he wanted it.
posted by darkstar at 2:42 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


He has to run as a Republican. It is the path forward to save the USA.

If he runs as a dem, the repubs just keep being the party of no.

If he becomes president as a Republican, suddenly they will back all of the sane and humane shit I think Dwayne wants to do. And the Dems will get behind him because he is doing sane and humane shit.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:04 AM on July 14 [17 favorites]


Meatbomb, that is actually solid gold genius and I am not even kidding.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:45 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


I feel like we've been warned before about presidents named Dwayne, though.
posted by emelenjr at 3:47 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


There's something calculating about him that rubs me the wrong way; everything is a photo op or motivational speech. He's liked by everyone partly because he's brand is so bland and safe - and he knows it. Can totally see him be very successful as a Republican.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:48 AM on July 14 [16 favorites]


...actually, upon further consideration, Schwarzenegger became Governor of the nation’s most populous state (and the fifth largest economy in the world), and probably only missed being elected US President because he wasn’t a naturalized citizen, so it’s not all that odd, at all.

I don't know about that. The sexual assault and adultery scandals likely scuppered his chances of becoming, say, Senator or Representative, and while he was popular enough to win reelection, he wasn't popular enough to get his preferred ballot initiatives passed. In retrospect, he's one more in a long line of California governors who couldn't deliver on budget policy, in no small part thanks to the referendum system there.

More broadly, it's really weird to see people getting excited and optimistic about the prospect of a charismatic showbusiness Republican taking office, considering how that seems to play out pretty much every time. Schwarzenegger, for example, was vocal LGBT rights proponent...but he still vetoed a gay marriage bill. Others, like Clint Eastwood -- he of the anti-chair soliloquy -- and Sonny Bono have not exactly been credits to U.S. governance or politics, at least from a left-liberal perspective. And then there was that one fellow who went from CA governor to President.....

As to Dwayne Johnson, he is charismatic, and popular, and wins the admiration of many., He also studiously avoids making policy statements, and no one seems to ask why he spent years asa registered Republican. What dis he like about GOP positions, and what might that suggest about his own likely policy goals? Why would we ever want another celebrity GOP President after all the damage done by two we've already had?
posted by kewb at 3:52 AM on July 14 [34 favorites]


Foci, I think a bit of bland safeness is probably a valuable prophylactic for any public figure who values a peaceful life. You pretty much have to be somewhat calculating and performative if you want to survive in the spotlight—it's part of the 24/7 job that is being a celebrity. Doesn't mean you can't do your job with integrity though.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:56 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


Are we certain Johnson isn't still under the influence of the totally evil Vince McMahon/WWFake mob? The same mob that boosted Trump's fortunes in the '90s???
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:45 AM on July 14 [5 favorites]


To be successful, a modern US president has to be an amazing administrator, or at least have the chops to put together a staff that will be. They have to have decent depth of expertise in several areas of complex policy, and extreme breadth.

Dwayne Johnson has not demonstrated any of that. He's shown the ability to act well enough, display great comic timing, work really hard, and be a generally nice guy.

"Generally nice guy" doesn't cut it.

I'm being dry and humorless here because I no longer have patience for joke celebrity candidates. And if you're not joking, then start asking about his policy positions before you even mention an office. Because giving someone power just because they're pretty and already famous is how entire electorates get conned. And that bullshit certainly didn't begin in 2016.
posted by pykrete jungle at 5:19 AM on July 14 [90 favorites]


The political career thing is a weird inference. If you want to see what Johnson wants to do when he can no longer plausibly portray a gym-built action superhero, look at what he's spent a fair chunk of the last five years going -- the HBO series "Ballers" -- half a very long reel for "cast me in comedy or even dramedy roles" and half his really liking to work with pro athletes, coaches and sportscasters.
posted by MattD at 6:05 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


I like him as an actor, but I'd really prefer celebrity not be the only requirement for public office.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:08 AM on July 14 [10 favorites]


Not to mention Fast and Furious’s erstwhile leader Vin Diesel, whose only other notable contribution to the culture has arguably been I Am Groot.

Excuse me, but XXX: The Return of Xander Cage was a GODDAMN MASTERPIECE
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:21 AM on July 14 [12 favorites]


This post is making me want to talk about the Mission Impossible franchise, I think I'll cobble together some links later today and make that happen because that franchise (along with the Fast/Furious franchise) are my two favourite action things ever.

They're both franchises that have had their ups and downs and they speak to a larger social/political culture. They very much represent the time/year that each one is released in. They also both have this second rebirth in the latter part of their series where they've figured out this perfect recipe of dumb fun/action/spectacle/joy. I'm not a huge fan of Tom Cruise personally, but I'll continue to watch him do crazy ass shit and use ridiculous spy toys to save the world. I'm here for this kind of nonsensical fun.
posted by Fizz at 6:28 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Also, I love the Fast/Franchise more than I did previously because we now have Statham and Johnson. They've solidified what makes these action films so entertaining for me.
posted by Fizz at 6:29 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Don't get me wrong. This man pisses charisma and shits likability. He is an old time movie star through and through. Where the old studio system would manufacture stars he has manufactured himself. He's done action. He's done comedy. I shudder to imagine what the Rom-Com will be, but he'll probably ace that too. He is a one man, unstoppable cult of personality. I wish I could, but I can't quit you Dwayne.

That being said, this charismatic man has no place in politics. His is the business of Show. Leave it at that.
posted by SonInLawOfSam at 7:08 AM on July 14 [10 favorites]


I'd consider voting Johnson/Crews 2020.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:10 AM on July 14 [7 favorites]


The Staph as Secretary for Megaladon Science.
posted by Artw at 7:18 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


[Schwarzenegger] probably only missed being elected US President because he wasn’t a naturalized citizen

Mostly covered but as a California resident I remember this too well.

Schwarzenegger got good press as a celebrity and also that mythical moderate Republican. The centrist pundit type loves the narratives that both sides are wrong, and since California had deep problems and the Republicans had already gone far right, the issue had to be extremist leftists among Democrats. Never mind Gray Davis was the blandest most moderate guy in a suit the party could imagine.

The centrist pundits almost never see their guy elected but it happened here in a bizarre recall election. Flush with success this led to a lot of op-ed pieces on how he was going to govern ungovernable California and we should add an amendment to let him run for president. He was considered a great success before he did anything. In serious rags like the Economist.

What he mostly did though was keep complaining California was ungovernable (which the 'objective' press agreed with) and spent most of his energy on political initiatives like limiting union involvement in politics or weakening teachers' protections. No policy fixes, just try to weaken opponents. Voters rejected these, so his star had fallen far even by 2008 (the first chance he'd have had to run for president.) Certainly the lesson was California's totally ungovernable. Then we got Jerry Brown and we seem to be a functioning state again.

In conclusion, the Rock seems like a nice enough guy.
posted by mark k at 7:47 AM on July 14 [12 favorites]


Yeah, mentioning I don't want the Rock as president. The mandatory civil workout program would KILL me.
posted by Samizdata at 7:54 AM on July 14 [9 favorites]


I've been saying Johnson is the new Schwarzenegger for years. I also maintain that, given the right scripts and opportunities, Danny Trejo could be the early-21st-century Charles Bronson.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:40 AM on July 14 [9 favorites]


> Faint of Butt:
"I've been saying Johnson is the new Schwarzenegger for years. I also maintain that, given the right scripts and opportunities, Danny Trejo could be the early-21st-century Charles Bronson."

Yeah, but you can understand what Johnson is saying without too much trouble.
posted by Samizdata at 8:42 AM on July 14


I could have sworn there was recent discussion here on the Blue positing that it was part of a shift to Johnson possibly running for office?

Probably this post from May 2017, about a GQ interview with him, where the interviewer was trying to dig into Johnson's possible political aspirations, because "The Rock For President" had been a bit of a semi-jokey meme that Johnson kinda ran with for a minute in a sort of "Well, never say never. . . ." kinda way. The interviewer didn't get very far with this - Johnson was, unsurprisingly, charmingly evasive about politics.

no one seems to ask why he spent years asa registered Republican.

From that GQ interview, it's clear he's a "bootstraps" kinda guy - he believes he took himself from rags to riches by setting goals, focus, dedication, and hard work. (Which seems to be pretty much true; at least he's not a Bush-style "born on third" phony-regular-guy.)

So if that's your framework for how the world works, it's no surprise that the generic Republican "personal responsibility/too many handouts" talking points have some appeal (as long as you don't examine the results too closely. . . ) Of course, this is all kinda guesswork, because, as noted, Johnson remains close-mouthed about his actual political beliefs.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:46 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


Not to mention Fast and Furious’s erstwhile leader Vin Diesel, whose only other notable contribution to the culture has arguably been I Am Groot.

Excuse me, but XXX: The Return of Xander Cage was a GODDAMN MASTERPIECE


Also he made a film about his own D&D character... that's Da Vinci standard of cultural contribution.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:02 AM on July 14 [13 favorites]


Agree with comments that The Rock does come over a bit too bland and nice. Arnie always seemed to have a bit of danger around him... and low and behold it turned out he was a dirty cheating lying bastard (and subsequently a crap politician)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:05 AM on July 14


Not to mention Fast and Furious’s erstwhile leader Vin Diesel, whose only other notable contribution to the culture has arguably been I Am Groot.

What? Let's not forget that he was the voice of the iron giant in, uh, The Iron Giant.

Rrrrrockkkgg Tttrrrreeeeeeeh Suuupermannn
posted by Hairy Lobster at 9:13 AM on July 14 [5 favorites]


I desperately, sincerely hope that the Rock does not run for any office, on account of he does not remotely have the qualifications. ("More qualified than Donald Trump" is too low a bar.) That said, if I were running for president in 2020, I would definitely be on the phone to my bestest buddy in the whole wide universe, Dwayne Johnson. There would be at least one hilarious filmed gym session, where we discuss policy in between squat sessions and then I would do something funny and/or charming. Heck, have Chris Evans make a cameo, and then make clips from this my only ad.

Call me, Dems!
posted by kalimac at 9:15 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but you can understand what Johnson is saying without too much trouble.

Haha yeah them foreigners do talk funny
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:18 AM on July 14 [4 favorites]


And the Dems will get behind him because he is doing sane and humane shit.

I dunno about that part. One of the lessons of post-2015 politics is that the Republican leadership is less effectual than the Democratic leadership. The Democrats never let themselves be subverted the way Trump has done to the Republicans. (Just ask Bernie Sanders or Keith Ellison.) I think it's more realistic that Johnson could make inroads as a Republican than as a Democrat—but would the Democrats support him in any real way, at any point? I'm skeptical. And the quick Democratic rebuttal is, "Not after what Johnson would need to promise, to win the Republican nomination," which is also a reasonable point.

As someone who's worked in politics, the single trait that catches my attention about Johnson is how everybody who's met him agrees, "He loves people. When you meet him, he asks about you. Then he keeps asking more. Because he genuinely likes getting to know people." That's one of those X-factor traits that great politicians share. People talk a lot about parties and positions, and hey, I've never won a presidential campaign for anybody, but in my limited experience, having this particular kind of charisma beats having a lot of the other stuff.
posted by cribcage at 9:20 AM on July 14 [6 favorites]


If Dwayne Johnson ran as a Republican, the only reasonable choice for the dems would be to run John Cena. He even subtly disses Mr. Johnson 35 seconds in.
posted by davejay at 9:23 AM on July 14 [6 favorites]


Excuse me, but XXX: The Return of Xander Cage was a GODDAMN MASTERPIECE

Also he made a film about his own D&D character... that's Da Vinci standard of cultural contribution.


He also deserves some kind of recognition for making a sequel,The Chronicles of Riddick, that has one of the craziest switches of tone and genre from the previous movie (Pitch Black), going from an Aliens-style sci-fi horror film to a swashbuckling Flash Gordon space opera, and roping Dame Judi Dench in to do some of the scene chewing needed to make it happen. And teaching her to play D&D on the side.
posted by straight at 10:05 AM on July 14 [16 favorites]


...probably only missed being elected US President because he wasn’t a naturalized citizen

This has gone too long without correction. Naturalized citizens are not eligible to be president.
No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:17 AM on July 14 [7 favorites]


The Democrats never let themselves be subverted the way Trump has done to the Republicans.

Ehhhh... don’t know so much about that. All he has to do is turn up on their doorstep and say “I’m a moderate Republican” and they’ll be all over him, they love that shit.
posted by Artw at 10:29 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Maybe Vin Diesel could run for the Dems?
posted by zengargoyle at 10:49 AM on July 14


Haha yeah them foreigners do talk funny

Bronson was born in Pennsylvania.
posted by sideshow at 11:10 AM on July 14


The first big widely-known Schwarzenegger movie was Conan The Barbarian in 1982. In the following ten years alone he starred in Terminator, Commando, Predator, Running Man, Total Recall, Kindergarten Cop, Terminator 2, and various less-remembered movies.

What's The Rock done to compare to that, exactly? The linked article mentions how much he gets paid, but doesn't otherwise give many hints as to which are the good movies that show off his skills.
posted by sfenders at 12:05 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


The world was different in 1982, though. Where I grew up (near Boston, so not exactly Lincoln, MT), most people didn't have cable television yet, and VHS rental was still new enough that it wasn't a regular thing for most people, and the stores didn't have every movie. "VHS rental," by the way, often meant you were renting the player, too. For most movies, you saw it in the theater or you didn't see it; so if you could, you made sure you saw it in the theater. It was a big deal that The Wizard of Oz came on TV every year.

By contrast, the last couple generations have grown up with (1) having movies constantly cycling through HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, USA, TNT, etc; and then (2) having movies available digitally, instantly. More films are being produced, and their exposure can be infinite. The audience is weirdly both more fragmented (by options) and more unified (by accessibility). And all of that is apart from discussing how these evolutions have changed Hollywood production budgets, schedules, and expectations.

In this world, I'm not convinced you can ever get a star like Schwarzenegger again—or for that matter, Michael Jackson or Madonna or Elvis or Mary Tyler Moore. We no longer have media that literally everybody is watching. Dwayne Johnson has starred in broad-appeal blockbusters (the Fast & Furious franchise; San Andreas), broad-appeal comedies (Central Intelligence), movies aimed at men (Walking Tall), movies aimed at women (Baywatch), movies aimed at kids (Moana, Tooth Fairy), you name it, and they've all been successful. He's hosted SNL five times. He stars in an HBO series that's about to begin its fourth season. I think he's as big a star as Hollywood can make today.
posted by cribcage at 12:39 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]


I think he's as big a star as Hollywood can make today.
In my opinion, The Rock needs to be more discerning in taking roles. His Moana was great. F&F was good, and everything else you listed was straight up awful and I don't find him a big enough star to make a lousy movie good (beyond $$$) like Arnie could. Name one line he said from any of those movies. I can't. I just watched Jumanji like a day ago. Don't remember anything notable about his role. Kevin Hart and Jack Black acted all over The Rock.

be to run John Cena Interesting take, because Cena so far has refused to do the 'generic action movie' thing - with notable roles in comedies and cartoons.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:57 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Naturalized citizens are not eligible to be president.


Yep — I misspoke and meant to say that Schwarzenegger probably just missed being President because he wasn’t a “natural born” citizen. Schwarzenegger himself is naturalized.

Had he been natural born, I do not share others’ doubts about whether he would have made it to the White House. There are too many potential voters that conflate celebrity with the characteristics of merit and of leadership. Or, failing that, would just get a thrill at “President Terminator”. I do agree that, once elected, he would have had a hard time moving policy forward, because celebrity doesn’t help you in the knife fights with Congress.

Johnson wouldn’t have Arnie’s same cachet with the right wing. He lacks Scwarzenegger’s degree of unbridled “kick ass” body count with a side of cigar-chomping gunplay, womanizing, and Hummer fetishism. And Johnson’s ethnicity would be a mixed bag, attracting many but having the opposite effect on others. He would probably be a disaster as President. But he is super charismatic, so he probably stands as good a chance at getting in the door as Obama, who won in large part because Bush Jr. had become so toxic at the end of 8 years that even some of the more malleable racists were willing to vote for him.

But setting aside political aspirations (having already opened that can of worms in this thread)...

I can’t really say I’ve ever truly enjoyed a movie Johnson was in. I’ve seen several, but none of them has struck me as entertainment on the level of a “Terminator” or “Predator” or “Total Recall” or even “Kindergarten Cop”. Granted, I was decades younger when I first saw Schwarzenegger’s movies, so perhaps I’ve just grown out of the genres in which both actors have worked, and thus view Johnson’s oeuvre with less charity.

Can I just pause here, too, to say that whatever was happening with Johnson and Zac Efron in Baywatch (maybe excessive cutting and dehydration to get hyper definition) was just painful to see? The guys are already beautiful...the 300 excess just seemed completely unnecessary and unhealthy. It was distracting, and not in a positive way. Baywatch has never been a bastion of body positivism, though, so I guess unhealthy/unrealistic body image kinda fits with the whole franchise.
posted by darkstar at 1:53 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Weaver/Mechasuit 2020.
posted by Poldo at 4:24 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Just to emphasize, the inclusion in the Baywatch movie of the one teammate who was clearly unfit athletically for the fundamental role of lifeguard seemed a pretty transparent way to make fun of “the fat kid” as comic relief, under the guise of inclusiveness, which kinda rubbed me the wrong way, too. But again, Baywatch, so what do we expect...
posted by darkstar at 4:33 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


> Hairy Lobster:
"Not to mention Fast and Furious’s erstwhile leader Vin Diesel, whose only other notable contribution to the culture has arguably been I Am Groot.

What? Let's not forget that he was the voice of the iron giant in, uh, The Iron Giant.

Rrrrrockkkgg Tttrrrreeeeeeeh Suuupermannn"


Some friends and I agree, the fewer the lines Vin gets, the stronger an actor he is.
posted by Samizdata at 5:31 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


I really think he could do so much more as a private citizen than as a politician because he's one of the few celebrities nowadays that has bipartisan, cross-cultural appeal and good will.
posted by Selena777 at 7:49 AM on July 15


What? Let's not forget that he was the voice of the iron giant in, uh, The Iron Giant.

Rrrrrockkkgg Tttrrrreeeeeeeh Suuupermannn"

Some friends and I agree, the fewer the lines Vin gets, the stronger an actor he is.


“FAMILY.”
posted by Fizz at 9:07 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


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