First off, I did not initially smell what “The Rock” was cooking.
For one, I hated wrestling. Back when I first discovered Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (who is now just Dwayne Johnson) about seven years ago when I was dating a guy who loved wrestling. I thought that was just about the tackiest thing in the world. I tried not to hold it against the dude, but man, fake sports? Lame.
His favorite wrestlers were The Rock, aka “The People’s Champion” aka “The Brahma Bull” aka “The King of Ridiculous Nicknames,” Stone Cold Steve Austin and some dude who would hit his crotch with his hands in a V-formation. I didn’t like that guy. But The Rock seemed like a charismatic enough fellow. I just couldn’t get over the wrestling thing.
Thank God he quit wrestling.
Johnson is not the greatest actor, but he’s the closest thing we’re going to get to an heir apparent to Ah-nuld Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger, also a mediocre actor, had a certain something, a look that said, “I could fuck shit up or be really hilarious, because, seriously, I’m ridiculous looking. I mean, look at these muscles and the thickness of my neck. I’m utterly ridiculous.”
Johnson is utterly ridiculous with “The People’s Elbow” and that crazy arching eyebrow thing he does. He’s Ah-nuld with an American accent, a more handsome and warm face and a lovely incognegro brown covering. He’s essentially delicious.
While he has to share some of his bona fides with fellow incognegro and potential Schwarzenegger clone, Vin Diesel, Johnson definitely gets more work or (more likely) he’s willing to take on more crappy work in-between the good stuff.
Johnson was supposed to be an NFL pro-baller. He was an incredible football player for the University of Miami, but a back injury killed his chances at a career. After poking around in the Canadian League (and getting cut from his team), he ditched his legitimate sports dreams altogether and hit the wrestling arena where his father, Rocky Johnson, had once reigned supreme.
His incognegro status comes from being one part black Canadian and one part Samoan. While it is obvious that Johnson is “brown,” as both black people and Samoans are known for their “permanent tans,” Johnson doesn’t quite look like a black American. Maybe it’s the nose or his protruding brow or his hairline or the overall, not-quite-black look of his facial area. I just didn’t see him as a Negro or even a half-Negro. I still don’t. But while searching for photos of him on the internet one site had his pictures tagged with the ethnicity of “black.” So, whatever. I don’t know if anyone ever asked the dude what he was since he seems pretty down with his black and Polynesian roots.
In most of his films he’s your racial “everyman.” Latino? Pacific Islander? North African? Negro? Who the fuck knows? In Disney’s “The Game Plan” they made sure to cast his “daughter” with a child actress who also fell into the “who the fuck knows” category. And Johnson will probably remain in on-screen racial limbo for the rest of his career.
I mean, how many roles are there out there where you can play 6’3″ Samoan?
He, quite famously, got $5.5 million dollars to star in “The Scorpion King,” and has starred in mostly action flicks, remakes and video game adaptations (“The Rundown,” “Doom,” “Walking Tall”) and even popped up in the highly anticipated Richard Kelly’s surrealist/sci-fi flick “Southland Tales.”
Like Schwarzenegger, Johnson is a Hollywood Republican. Unlike Schwarzenegger, Johnson is royalty. His mother, Ata Johnson, nee Maivia, came for a royal Samoan bloodline, leading Samoan King Malietoa Tanumafili II to bestow Johnson with the title of “Seiuli, Son of Malietoa” during a visit to Samoa in 2004.
Johnson dropped “The Rock” from his name in 2006 wanting to leaving wrestling behind completely and be seen solely as an actor. That was probably a good thing, but the not-quite Polynesian face with a quasi-black American name (I don’t know a lot of white dudes named “Dwayne,” but black guys? Hoards.), there’s still a bit of cognizant dissonance. But never mind. I’ll still go see “Get Smart” this summer anyway. He may be ridiculous, but he’s a hot, chiseled, royal incognegro sort of ridiculous and that’s something which everyone can partake.