I hope I am healthy. I have a bad habit of constantly wondering if I’m not healthy even though I feel healthy. And I know I need to stop. But today, on top of all the regular reasons any person would want to be healthy, I have realised one more: I need to stay healthy so that I’m around if – or WHEN – Dwayne The Rock Johnson becomes president of the United States.
The Rock is on the cover of the new issue of GQ to promote the upcoming Baywatch movie. Last week, we were talking about Brad Pitt’s GQ cover(s) and the accompanying interview which was published in “interview” style, question followed by direct answer. As Duana and I discussed on this week’s episode of Show Your Work, it was a soft environment, the writer clearly affectionate towards his subject. We also wondered though how that piece would be different say if Taffy Brodesser-Akner or Caity Weaver, who both write for GQ, had been given the assignment.
Caity’s assignment, it turns out, was to deliver this profile of The Rock. And it’s not that she’s not affectionate towards him. You’ll recall, she was also affectionate towards Justin Bieber in her profile of JB last year, not unlike Taffy’s affection for Tom Hiddleston earlier this year. The difference between Caity and Taffy’s profiles and the one of Brad Pitt is that they can maintain their affection while getting at the truth. In Justin Bieber’s case the truth was that while Caity liked him, she was also worried about him. In Tom Hiddleston’s case, while Taffy liked him, she also saw that he wanted to be liked too much. This is why I love reading Caity and Taffy’s writing – they’re hilarious, first and foremost, but also because you can hear them consciously processing their subjects’ answers back through their theses. That’s what a great profile should be and it’s basic sh-t we learned in school – an essay, with a point of a view, that is either supported or discredited by the information in the middle. To me, what Caity Weaver is asking here – of The Rock, of herself, and of the reader – is the question: is he for real? Few people are as famous as The Rock and as well-liked. What, then, is the secret to that popularity?
Caity has done her job, giving us details of her time spent with The Rock (IN THE GYM, for Christ’s sake, which to me is already an act of courage, and also at rehearsal for the Oscars), observing how he interacts with her, with the people around him, and telling us how he responds to questions about politics, about Donald Trump, and about his own possible run for office one day. She has, reliably, shown her work. The Rock shows his work by, well, constantly working. It’s literally part of his brand: the hardest working man in the business. He might not be the best actor, he may not be the funniest actor, but no one is going to argue that he works harder than Leonardo DiCaprio and Adam Sandler. But that part is obvious. What The Rock doesn’t get enough credit for is the subtlety. The fact that he listens to the Dixie Chicks while riding around in his monster truck on the way to his hardcore gym is presented to us in the first paragraph. Later on, The Rock is “diplomatic” while assessing Trump’s performance in the White House so far. But that little detail about his musical tastes serves to round out where The Rock might fall on ideology. And certainly his subsequent perspective on immigration and inclusion would support the theory that he’d be a moderate legislator – but again, it’s not obvious enough to set off alarm bells for the right. In fact, there’s enough here to directly appeal to their particular interests – without seeming hypocritical or contradictory. And as good as he is at the charm and the charisma, at being “natural”, there is technique to this, there is skill. That’s what makes it even more impressive. And that too is what Caity Weaver shows us. Sure, there’s a running joke about being his best friend, how he’s so warm that she can’t help but feel like she’s definitely his best friend, but part of that is also recognition for how convincing he is at making her feel that way.
The Rock is a big f-cking deal. He doesn’t need to be liked any more. But he’s so great at what he does that you can't help it. Not only do you like him, you WANT to like him.
Click here to read Caity Weaver’s full piece in GQ.