Dwayne Johnson’s Biden endorsement falls flat

Jeff Thomas, Life and Arts Editor

Part of my soul receded into the void Sunday morning when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson entered the realm of U.S. politics by posting a video of his official endorsement of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris across his social media accounts.

The seven minute video endorsement added yet another uniquely agonizing layer to the putrid political onion Americans are going to have to digest before November’s presidential election.

In step with the Democrats’ vapid appeals to reach young voters through celebrity outreach instead of policy positions, the video featured an awkwardly scripted remote conversation between Johnson, Harris and Biden. Viewers had to endure the typical empty platitudes from Biden and Harris. Discussion of “souls” and “earning the respect” of the American people had me rolling my eyes so hard that I nearly fell out of my chair. 

What was worse was the forced camaraderie between the trio. The cringe of Biden and Harris referring to Johnson as “DJ” was unreal. There’s just something so inherently phony about top politicians feigning intimacy with Hollywood celebrities. I mean are we really supposed to believe that Johnson, one of the most powerful businessmen in the entertainment world, is so whimsically adopting pet names whenever a politician comes around? Give me a break.

The whole reason the video is so relevant is because of Johnson’s massive international star power. A box office megastar, Johnson’s blockbuster performances have drawn billions in revenue over his career. His charismatic performances on screen have landed him back-to-back years as Hollywood’s highest paid actor as well as a wealth of fans across the entertainment landscape. The reach of his social media profiles are enormous. As “Instagram’s most popular star”, Johnson has hundreds of millions of followers across social media platforms who received his endorsement video.

Johnson’s natural charm, however, was both a blessing and a curse to the Biden ticket in this endorsement video. I mean if you think Biden and Harris come across as robotic and over produced in their regular appearances, imagine how they seemed when juxtaposed with Johnson’s wholesome down-to-earth persona. 

Frankly, the only parts of the video that come across as organic are the intro and outro segments that Johnson filmed without Biden and Harris. Those segments feature Johnson standing in front of a gorgeous green foliage, probably somewhere in the backyard of his presumably palatial estate. He looks every bit of the multi-billion dollar star that he is, with his bouldering physique and warm, pristine smile, as he speaks directly into the camera to address the American people.

As effective as those segments are, their inclusion raises some questions. Most obviously — why did Johnson feel the need to add his own portions to the campaign’s orchestrated endorsement? Seems fair to speculate that perhaps Johnson was less than content with the clunkiness of the endorsement video and took things into his own hands to make sure his message came across clearly. 

This would make sense considering the leap that Johnson is making with this endorsement. Up until this point Johnson has gone out of his way to avoid politics, I mean besides that whole “not ruling out a run for president” thing. Oh, and the time he broke the news that the U.S. Military had taken out Osama Bin Laden before President Barack Obama could make the official announcement. (Yeah, that really happened.) Regardless, Johnson is taking a risk now by throwing himself into a vicious election cycle where picking a side is likely to alienate fans.

It’s hard to know what motivated such a drastic change from Johnson, especially since he never explicitly states why he is endorsing Biden in the endorsement. He talks about the election being important, wanting to go big with the endorsement, his dad dying and how he wants people in office who will do the hard work — but he never says anything more substantial than that about why he’s choosing Biden and Harris.

Now I don’t see anything inherently offensive about famous people making a case for Biden publicly. In fact, I wish desperately that the Biden campaign were doing a better of making the case for Biden themselves, but if you’re going to go public to make the case — then make the damn case. 

Ultimately, Johnson’s endorsement falls flat because he doesn’t seem willing to publicly endorse specific Biden policy positions. 

Johnson makes it a point at the beginning of the video to describe himself as an “independent” and a “centrist” and to say in his post that he’s voted for people from all party affiliations during prior elections. And I’m glad for Johnson that he has had the luxury of sitting on the fence politically, but the majority of Americans have not. This is not a time for moderate intentions or fence riding. It is disappointing that our favorite action hero decided to enter the arena of politics with such weak sauce.