Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

By Andrea Plaid

See, I think writing about this particular crush should be as easy as posting Johnson’s photo like this:

Courtesy: moviespad.com

and saying the we love him ’cause of reasons.

But “reasons” isn’t reason enough. So, here are some more “whys” about our latest loved-up:

He rolls in the world with his own self-identification with his mixed-race identity, as it should be with anyone doing so. He claims both his Samoan (mom, who’s comes from Samoan royalty) and Black (dad, whose kin are Black Nova Scotians) roots, which also covers dual citizenship in Canada and the US due to shifts in Canadian laws. Johnson wears his Samoan heritage on his skin and was given the honorific of Seiuli by King Malietoa Tanumafili II of Samoa for “his service to the Samoan people.”

That smile.

Johnson is pro wrestling royalty: both his father and maternal grandfather were wrestlers, and his maternal grandmother was a manager, a rarity in the sport. As well, in the epically over-the-top professional wrestling world where playing up racial stereotypes is uncomfortably common, says the R’s Managing Editor (and big pro-wrestling fan) Arturo García, Johnson didn’t do that. However, that didn’t mean that Johnson was cast as some post-racial character. His identity was acknowledged and not exaggerated, and the “storyline” moved on.

That eyebrow.

He’s a Republican (some outlets suggest that he may be a social liberal/fiscal conservative, though he keeps most of his views on political issues to himself) who may trash-talk POTUS Obama’s hoop skills but maintains a healthy respect for the man himself. Johnson uses the moments he speaks before Republicans to speak about voter registration.

Those shoulders.

Johnson is a community man: the University of Miami alum donated about $3 million to renovate parts of the athletic center and the alumni center as well as supports Samoa’s national rugby team and set up a foundation for at-risk and terminally ill children.

That chest and the heart in it.

As deeply problematic as the movie Be Cool is–and Johnson’s character is in it–that film is when I “got” why fans adore him. In it, Johnson plays a bodyguard/hit man for rapper-impresario wannabe Vince Vaughn and aspires to be an actor. The running “joke” about Johnson’s character is that he’s a gay man who would beat up anyone who calls him a homophobic slur. So, the flick attempts to show the audience why his self-defense is unwarranted by all of these cheap visual and other gags, from his pausing a video to show him as “limp-wristed” to his doing a audition monologue from Bring It On and hipster White Savior John Travolta advising him to do a “man monologue” for said audition to Johnson thoroughly enjoying trying on some news clothes, spanking his own butt, and turning to the disgusted store owner and saying (complete with that disarming smile of his), “You like that, huhn?” But Johnson, in his own way, undercuts this ongoing joke because he gives his character this self-loving and life-loving dignity to where I really have to ask myself why–beyond the homophobia–is his character even a joke.

And that’s what Arturo said about Johnson’s popularity when he was a pro wrestler: whether he plays a “good” or “bad” character–or, in above case, in a rather effed up movie where gay men are (once again) set up as the butt of the joke (and I won’t even touch the weird-ass Orientalist dance number in the film)–it’s hard to hate on him. He’s just cool like that.

So, like I said at the beginning, reasons is why we crush on him.


About This Blog

Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at team@racialicious.com.

The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.

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Written by:

  • Elton


    Given that The Rock is one of the greatest and most popular professional wrestlers of all time, was THE biggest star of wrestling for a number of years, and is mixed race yet his character was never racially stereotyped, does this mean that pro wrestling actually did something incredibly progressive?  It boggles the mind.  But that’s the People’s Champ for you.

  • ES

    I met him once as a teenager when I was working at a radio station. I was asked to write some of the interview questions for him and he was kind, engaged (one of the questions was about a wrestlers initiative for literacy) and charming. Not the norm for a celebrity doing publicity overseas. He also went out of his way to meet everyone involved, shake their hands and thank them. I’m not so much for dudes but…swoon…

    He is also the largest man I have ever seen. I’m 5′ 4” and next to him I looked like a little kid. 

  • http://www.konnectmagazine.com/ konnect

    The Rock is certainly an all around kind of man – movies, product pushing, wrestling, media guru. It’s quite amazing to see an individual embrace so many aspects of media. He’s got a long career ahead of him…sometimes, though, I wish he  continued onward with his incredible wrestling career!

  • Alphabet

    When he did The Rock Obama on SNL, I watched it so much on repeat.  He was fantastic in that. 

  • http://twitter.com/MalikPanama Malik

    The only reason I see movies with The People’s Champ in them is hoping he’ll Rock Bottom someone.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with everything in this article too. I actually got into pro-wrestling because of  The Rock. The only time his race was used was in the  Nation of Domination, the WWF (then)’s answer to the Nation of Islam. For a while there, Rock was the highlight of that show. My only complaint is that so far, Hollywood doesn’t see him as a Black man. The only time he had a Black love interest (sort of)  was in Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too.

  • Anonymous

    *lecherous old woman stare*

    Hey baby. Can you smell what I’m cookin’? 😛

  • Rosasparks

    I also appreciate that Dwayne regularly discusses the challenges of raising a daughter in a society that isn’t always respectful of women. He was on the CBS Morning Show awhile back, promoting something or other, and when he started talking about this, I think I fainted. 

  • mickinickharp

    I was a teenager/20-something in the WWE-obsessed ’90s and despised the sport.  YET I LOVED THIS MAN.  Good Lord is he beautiful.  AND he’s a proud, intelligent, giving human being who is also wicked-funny in films.  GREAT crush!!

  • http://twitter.com/Ellington3 Rhonda Yearwood

    I like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He is very handsome, but I think that he seems like a genuine hard working guy.
    Good crush choice. ; )

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Neville-Ross/100002343524258 Neville Ross

    Agreed with everything said in the article.