Every few months, famous wrestler, actor, body builder, and all-around Goliathan Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is hailed as a potential office holder or for smacking down political correctness with common sense. The Rock has a natural attractiveness that many people think would improve our politics. But Johnson has far more to offer the country, and it isn’t in D.C. or on sets in Hollywood.
Americans once came together to laugh, relax, and feel a sense of community with late-night television. Famous hosts like Johnny Carson made likability a career, and above all gave audiences a feeling that things were okay in the world.
It was before the hyper-politicization and tense divides in the nation, or at least when the tensions did not manifest as they do now in ubiquity. It was before late-night hosts used notes from partisan politicians in their monologues. Hosts were likeable, comedy was comedy, and politics was an equal opportunity subject but not a central feature of late-night television.
What Sets The Rock Apart?
There are several reasons Dwayne Johnson would be a breath of fresh air on late-night television. He’s a complete foil of the current lot. They’re almost universally liberal, from traditional comedy backgrounds, and physically average white-collar individuals. While none of this makes them terrible, nor the inverse make Johnson great, it would help him to stand out. A relatively apolitical, naturally lighthearted, funny, physically impeccable guy who is surprisingly down to earth would be new, fun, and worth tuning in for.
As a breath of fresh air, some have even thought of Johnson as a potential officeholder. Being an outsider is not necessarily a qualification for office. Moreover, politics is not where we should place our hopes. For the record, I don’t recommend hanging one’s hopes on television hosts, either, but the point is that there are other places to find cohesion and community than the Oval Office or halls of Congress.
Johnson is not a political powerhouse; he is a cultural one. He’s charismatic, approachable, lighthearted, and good-natured. These are things we look to in leaders and like to see on television. Johnson is not perfect; he is just a guy, but he is a guy who can highlight the good in America and help us see the common humanity and community we once had as a nation.
We are so starved for decency and discussion that longer form interviews like The Rubin Report have garnered almost 200 million views on YouTube since 2012. It is why Fox News added “Life, Liberty, Levin” as a full-hour segment for conversation to its primetime lineup. And it is why sound bite media is increasingly polarizing and written off as unimportant.
Decency and discussion, along with humor and fewer political pressures, are exactly what one could expect with Johnson hosting a talk show. He isn’t beholden to anyone’s narrative, and he understands the values that are important to average Americans going through everyday life. He may be a multimillionaire, but he is different from the other elites and celebrities who abuse their platforms or lose touch with the heartland.
Even better, Johnson has a natural announcer, sidekick, and second banana in his good friend Kevin Hart. As a duo, the pair make excellent comedy and have such genuine rapport that they could be brothers playing off one another’s personalities in a fun way. But if Hart didn’t join, Johnson would still be rock solid.
Cultural Vs. Formal Power
I don’t think Johnson should run for office or attempt to be a moral leader. I think he is more valuable to the country in the culture rather than formal power (although I wouldn’t bet against him in office either). I think he has a knack for interacting with people in a genuine way and demonstrating both interest in and tolerance for their views while connecting to them on a personal level.
There is no agenda for him to espouse and I wouldn’t hope for him to be politically incorrect. He could just be himself. That would be a refreshing change from the barely cloaked partisans of late-night or the superficial fawning over guests.
Even more than having no agenda, he does not play by others’ agendas. When he believes something, he says it clearly. When others try to use him as a political pawn, he sets the record straight.
He wouldn’t be Johnny Carson, and he shouldn’t be. Johnson’s appeal is that he is fun to watch, he’s smart, and his conversations are real, genuine, and amusing all at the same time. This country needs someone like him, not in a political office or to hang our hopes on, but to relax with, share a laugh with, and be reminded of the common humanity and strength of our culture. A culture that values community and a sense of purpose. Late-night television isn’t where our purpose comes from, but a good-natured host who can inspire community is a good place to start.
Across the political spectrum, people want healing, coming together, and a sense of community. While religion, family, and local community are the places these should be sought, the national stage is a natural place to look as well. But the political stage is not where we should focus our rebuilding. We can and should have different policy views in politics, and no single figure can bridge it all. In entertainment, we can all sit back, relax, and see the commonality of fellow Americans to repair the culture of divisiveness of late.
The best way to start this cultural rebuilding is with late-night television and a less controversial figure who brings out the best in his guests while showing the genuine and decent tone we should strive for in conversation. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the host who can do it.