“A gigantic mutated wolf,” says The Rock, alone in his gym. Mm. It’s not the first thing you expect to come out of The Rock’s mouth when he’s made an Instagram vid, is it. But it is the first thing that comes out of his mouth; the first thing The Rock says, alone in a gym, is, “A gigantic mutated wolf.”
But it makes sense in context. You must understand that The Rock is promoting two films at present: one of them is Skyscraper, a film in which he plays an FBI agent framed for starting a fire in THE TALLEST BUILDING IN THE WORLD; but the other film, you see, is Rampage, a film based on an ‘80s arcade game, in which The Rock is a primatologist whose beloved gorilla friend George mutates, becomes massive, and has to battle other gigantic mutated beasts – hence the vast aforementioned wolf.
Now, of course, The Rock is on the Twitter campaign trail for this film – hashtag Rampage Movie hashtag hype. He’s doing what The Rock does – retweeting people’s enthusiastic comments about the film and adding things like “Thanks man. #RAMPAGE trailer is epic insanity. Let’s do it!”, thereby making the day of a humble IT consultant in Kentucky who has eight followers and has hitherto only tweeted about his feet.
But here’s where things get interesting. We know that The Rock is no stranger to calling out people who insult his beloved films. But when I saw his latest reply to a sceptical critic, I fell in love with the repressed rage evident within.
In response to a man called Martin Saunders, who wrote: “Hollywood is now officially completely out of ideas. They’ve made this [GIF of Rampage video game] into a film. A WHOLE FILM. #RampageMovie.” The Rock said the following: “Juuuuust a tad early on the judgement my friend. I recommend you see it first then talk to me after the game. I can promise you it doesn’t suck [cry-laughing emoji].”
A lot for us to enjoy there. First there’s the fact that he found the tweet in the first place. It wasn’t addressed to him, and obviously he doesn’t follow Martin Saunders. Is The Rock lying on his side in bed, staring at his phone and refreshing his search on the ‘RampageMovie’ hashtag in order to find scraps to feed his self-esteem? Is someone else sending him the tweets to make him aware of the hostility?
Do they text him: “The Rock. The Rock, wake up. A Twitter man has noticed that your big gorilla movie is based on a video game. Log. On. And. Sort. Him. Out”?
Second, there’s the delicious five – count them, five – ‘u’s in the “Juuuuust” that he deployed at the beginning of the reply. Oh, there’s no doubt that this has wounded The Rock.
Picture him, a solitary objecting finger in the air – “Ummmmm – yep… can I just say…” Yes. This is incontrovertible – this has hit The Rock deep. He knows there is truth in this criticism. Then there is the incongruous “a tad” – a peculiarly un-Rockian phrase to wheel out, and evidence that he was probably spitting with righteous fury, finding himself uttering words he has never found himself uttering before.
As if this wasn’t enough, there’s then the ambiguous and confrontational “I recommend you see it first then talk to me after the game [my emphasis].”
What’s the game here? Does he mean the film? Is the game the film? Either way, he’s rattled. The Rock is rattled, no doubt about it. Would a man secure in the knowledge that he was involved in a good film react like this? Did Francis Ford Coppola ring up trolls before The Godfather came out and say, “Juuuuust a tad early on the judgement my friend…”? My contention is that no, he did not do this and that The Rock knows that he has made another bad film.
Still. There is all to play for and I for one hope that Rampage is the finest piece of cinema the world has ever seen.
In other news: there was another, unsurprising glimpse of Trumpian language in The Rock’s Instagram captions this week. On 16 February he wrote: “I’m a very kind man, but a very competitive and angry player.”
This is quite “very stable genius”, isn’t it? I do wonder if The Rock is conscious of the comparisons he invites when he describes himself like this. Unfortunately, they are not flattering. I will remain vigilant for any other examples of this disturbing trend, and you will be the first to know about them.
That’s all for this week. Stay hungry, stay humble.