Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson found himself in the middle of a sticky political situation this week, as social media fueled a boycott of Under Armour over its CEO Kevin Plank’s comments on CNBC about President Trump. Johnson is a high-profile Under Armour spokesperson when he’s not busy being the highest-paid actor in Hollywood and People‘s Sexiest Man of the Year.
Plank’s statement on Trump was positive and innocuous, touching on no hot-button issues.
“To have such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset for the country,” Plank said. “People can really grab that opportunity. He loves to build. I don’t think there’s any surprises here. When you look at the president, he wants to build things. He wants to build things, he wants to make bold decisions and be really decisive. I’m a big fan of people that operate in the world of publish and iterate versus think, think, think, think, think. So there’s a lot that I respect there.”
He followed that up with respect for debate and “different constituencies,” but that was not enough to save him or anyone associated with him from the social media mobs.
While the Internet freaked out, The Rock offered perspective in an Instagram post, where he donned his Under Armour gear and explained that a company is made up of many people with many opinions:
“A good company is not solely defined by its CEO. A good company is not defined by the athlete or celebrity who partners with them. A good company is not a single person. A good company is a team, a group of brothers and sisters committed to working together each and every day to provide for their families and one another and the clients they serve. We don’t partner with a brand casually. I partner with brands I trust and with people who share my same values. That means a commitment to diversity, inclusion, community, open-mindedness and some serious hard work. But it doesn’t mean that I or my team will always agree with the opinion of everyone who works there, including its executives.”
He strongly implied he does not personally agree with Plank (perhaps because he’s thinking about a 2020 primary run?), and called his comments divisive, which they weren’t. But overall, points awarded for a social media post by a bankable, popular Hollywood star that is a welcome reprieve from the self-righteous, non-stop virtue signaling of most.
The Rock invoked his responsibility to a “diverse group of hardworking men and women who possess integrity, respect and compassion for one another and the world,” adding “debate is healthy. But in a time of widespread disagreement, so is loyalty.”
Way to thread the needle. His comments section is peppered with warring Trump supporters and Trump haters, and accusations of selling out on both sides, but mostly contains a bunch of people inspired to say something along the lines of, “Wow, yeah, I think everyone needs to chill out. Well said, man. I love you!” We could use more of that.
So, in the end, the Under Armour CEO expressed a perfectly innocuous opinion not everyone agreed with, the Internet tried to get everyone to hate Under Armour, The Rock stood up for the company and will remain with Under Armour, and social justice warriors will say their feelings are still hurt. In the words of The Rock, “It doesn’t matter.”