Profiles in Positive Masculinity: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Edit: I got some good critiques on this profile that are worth thinking about. I’m going to leave it up, as I think the conversation itself is good to have. If you want to read where I’m seeing these critiques, check out this thread on Reddit

Sometimes you have to just turn masculinity up to 11, and when you do, you create Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. I’d go ahead and say that there can be no reasonable measure of masculinity, no masculinity scale, that doesn’t at least include The Rock, and I imagine he’d be at or near the top of any of them. But what about his masculinity is positive, in light of the other men we’ve looked at?

I’m pretty sure there is no photo in which Dwayne Johnson does not look masculine, so here is a photo of Dwayne Johnson from his Wikipedia page:

Dwayne Johnson 2, 2013.jpg

He looks a little bit tired, and I can’t blame him. One thing about The Rock that you pretty much can’t question is that he works his ass off. If you follow him on social media, you will find that he is up at like 4:30am every morning to go work out like a maniac, despite not going to bed until around midnight a lot of the time. It’s hard to hate a guy for succeeding when he keeps a schedule like that, day in and day out.

There is even a Rock Clock app he’s developed that helps you set goals, and you can sync the app to The Rock’s own alarm clock and try to get up when he does. Good luck with that, by the way. Project Rock is what he’s calling his foray into being a motivational professional, and while I find these kinds of things to be irreducibly hokey, it seems like Johnson is excited about helping people achieve their goals, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

For a superstar, he seems to be very engaged with his fanbase. It’s one of the reasons he has nearly 100 million followers on Instagram. He set the Guiness World Record for selfies at the opening of San Andreas, taking over 100 in just 3 minutes with his fans. He also founded the Dwayne Johnson Rock Foundation, a charity working with terminally ill children, and made the largest-ever donation from an alumnus to the University of Miami athletics department. He was granted a noble title by the Samoan government for his, and his family’s, contributions to that country.

For showing how epic victory can come from epic dedication and hard work (and freak genes as a third-generation professional wrestler), for remaining connected to fans even when he is a multi-millionaire movie star, and for wanting to use what he’s achieved to inspire others, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is today’s Profile in Positive Masculinity.

P.S. He’s Also Problematic

I tend to focus on the positives when presenting these profiles, but it’s been pointed out that this is still a one-sided way of presenting each of these people. My goal is to be pithy, but that doesn’t mean I should ignore the other side of the proverbial coin.

In The Rock’s case, there are two problematic things that were pointed out, both of which I was aware of if I had thought the issue through and written about it. One is that The Rock presents an unattainable physicality. There’s almost no doubt he is augmenting himself with at least a plethora of supplements, and maybe more. If he really does get 4.5 hours of sleep a night, he has a one-way ticket to early stage dementia and a host of other problems related to a lack of sleep.

He also has a long history of smack-talk from his wrestling days, including using “hermaphrodite” as an insult. Clearly, that’s a bigoted thing to say as an insult. Now we’d maybe call it intersex-phobic. If anyone can find an instance of him apologizing for using that kind of language, let me know, because he certainly should. 

I still think we can learn about positive masculinity from Dwayne Johnson, but that hardly means he’s perfect.

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