As someone who has been tweeted at by The Rock in the past and expressed doubts as to who might really be lurking behind his social media activity, I am no stranger to scrutiny of the big man’s online platforms.
Though he told me face-to-face that he does indeed tweet with his own two hands, some degree of scepticism lingered at the back of my mind about the integrity of his famously popular posts. Was it too good to be true?
Well, although I don’t doubt he composes his own tweets – I’M NOT CALLING THE ROCK A LIAR, LET’S MAKE THAT CLEAR SHALL WE – I was right to be a little dubious, as Variety revealed on May 8. According to the piece, in addition to his movie fee Dwayne Johnson Mr Rock is asking the studio for $1 million to promote Red Notice on social media. As he’s the only film star in the piece about whom this is said, this leaves a slightly bad taste in the mouth.
But should it?
There are probably two elements of this story that inspire disbelief. The first is the specific amount cited. One million dollars to send a tweet does indeed sound preposterous; a little like being paid $200,000 to brush your teeth. But the other element is the man himself.
People are so familiar with The Rock’s various social media platforms – mainly, let’s be honest, his 106-million-follower Instagram – that to learn he might be able to be ‘bought’ in this way is a little disheartening. Before the revelation, one side of our brain ‘knew’ that he would only have been promoting films because it would earn him and the studios more money; but the other side of our brain liked to believe that he was only doing it for the fun of it, because he was so bloody proud of his work and his colleagues.
The monetisation of high-profile figures’ social media accounts is nothing new, of course (‘new’ being a relative term here), and before this story came out there would always have been an understanding that casting The Rock in a film implicitly meant ‘paying’ for access to his Instagram. (When The Rock signs onto a project, he never keeps quiet about it.) But written down in black and white, it can’t help but cheapen the idea of a celebrity’s social media presence.
Though the thinking may be irrational – The Rock puts a lot of effort into promoting his films; he can ask to be paid for it if he likes – what fans of Dwayne Johnson like about his Instagram, for example, is how well it conveys the man’s sincerity. WHAT NEXT? GETTING A SWEET TWO MILL FOR POSTING A PHOTO OF HIS WIFE?
Unless this is already going on behind closed doors, we can probably expect to hear about this model being adopted by various film stars as they a) hear that it’s an option, and b) become increasingly famous and able to make demands of the studios. As a spectacularly well paid performer with almost incomparable social media clout, The Rock is almost the only movie star able to demand $1 million, but let’s wait and see what others ask for in the years to come.
As for me? The saga doesn’t bother me too much. As long as he’s not being paid to tweet at me, The Rock can do what he likes.
Stay hungry, stay humble.
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