Where does “The Rock” end and Dwayne Johnson begin?

Hobbs and Shaw is the latest example of life imitating art imitating life

Matt Craig

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If you have an Instagram account, chances are you’re probably following @TheRock. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has over 152 million followers on the platform. I admit I’m one of them.

Honestly, I have no particular affinity for Johnson or memory of actually clicking “follow.” It was almost as if his thousand watt smile and glass-two-thirds-full attitude came pre-programmed on the app. I wouldn’t dare unfollow, or even want to. His #content is too good.

In many ways, he’s the quintessential 2019 celebrity. In this era of forced authenticity, where we want to know what our favorite celebrities eat and wear and do in their free time, The Rock’s brand is pure aspiration. He travels the world, wakes up early to lift crazy heavy weights, eats a pristine diet (except for his epic cheat meals), dresses in skin-tight designer clothing, makes time for his kids, preaches family and heritage and positivity and hard-work-pays-off.

His whole life is on perfectly manicured display. He’s created a character of himself. And it has made him the highest paid and most bankable actor in Hollywood.

Using a social media platform to advance one’s career is not new or particularly unique. But when I sat down in the theater to see Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw, what I found was something entirely different. Dwayne Johnson plays a character who travels the world, wakes up early to lift crazy heavy weights, eats a pristine diet (except for his epic cheat meals), dresses in skin-tight designer clothing, makes time for his kid, preaches family (uso!) and heritage and positivity and hard-work-pays-off.

In other words, it was hard to tell where my phone screen stopped and the silver screen started.

Big blockbuster movies have become more meta on the whole. If they do not explicitly reference their fiction, like Will Smith making a “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” reference while playing the genie in Aladdin or literally everything Ryan Reynolds does in Deadpool, they are at least keenly aware of their corresponding online commentary, like when all the female superheroes assemble in one frame for…

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