It’s week 38 of The Rock Report and the big guy’s had his nails done.
There’s Dwayne Johnson there, sitting his colossal frame down at a miniature table and letting his daughter paint his nails red.
The likes on Dwayne Johnson’s Instagram posts fluctuate like anyone’s – they are never likely to fall below 500,000, but they often climb into the millions. (He has 116 million followers, which is almost 116 million more than I.) I have noticed that, generally, it is the posts in which he appears with his children that generate the biggest response. The photo of him holding his newborn baby Tiana is currently on 10-and-a-half million likes, and the above photo of Jasmine painting his nails is, at the time of writing, on 4,610,306.
Without extrapolating too desperately from the photo of him having his nails painted, I do think that it’s important. Look at him – that is a happy man if ever I saw one. A man comfortable in his skin. A man happy to be made up to look stereotypically feminine.
As I’ve written before, I think that the messages Johnson sends – to his male audience in particular – are, in an overwhelming number of instances, positive and progressive. He is far from the first male celebrity to be photographed with painted nails but he occupies an almost unique position in popular culture in 2018. It’s hard to understate his influence on vast swathes of the public. In incalculable ways, he affects the way that both men and women think and behave. It is hard to dismiss anything The Rock does as uncool. To adapt a Richard Nixon line, when The Rock does it, that means that it is not uncool.
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When I was 17 or 18, I used to paint my nails. In retrospect, given what teenagers can be like, the reaction to this decision was incredibly muted at my school. Though I might occasionally have attracted a raised eyebrow or two, or the odd sarcastic comment, I was never bullied or made to feel small for it. Obviously this was partly due to the fact that I was incredibly cool, but it was also a sign that this kind of behaviour was acceptable for a man in the 21st century. This was possible because of men before me who had decided, for whatever reason, that they wanted to paint their nails. And, by demonstrating an ease with having his daughter paint his nails but also by supporting his wife and highlighting the importance of being present at your child’s birth, Dwayne Johnson is continuing to contribute to the ever-evolving idea of what it means to be a man.
When you consider the horrible impact he could be using his public platform for, it is a joy to see posts like this and the way that they’re received.
Stay hungry, stay humble.
(Illustration: Dan Evans)