The Bizarre Story of The Rock, "Snowflakes" and Fake News

There’s a reason that those quotes seemed out of character for Dwayne Johnson

Ishani Nath
Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, poses in a red shirt with snowflakes around him looking serious
(Photo: Getty Images)

Update: On January 11, Dwayne Johnson posted a video on his Instagram clarifying that the interview with the Daily Star never took place and his controversial quotes about “snowflakes” were completely fabricated. 

I hate winter, but I am here for “snowflakes.”

But obviously not the stuff that ruins my hair December through February. I’m talking about the highly politicized term that right-wing pundits, like Fox & Friends’s Tomi Lahren, frequently use to dismiss millennials as whiny and overly sensitive. Lahren oh-so-kindly broke it down for viewers in 2017, saying that the term refers to anyone who supports protests like the Women’s March or kneeling during the U.S. national anthem, believes that gender is not binary or criticizes Donald Trump’s tweets. Basically, if you aren’t ready to accept any and all offences to humanity in the name of freedom, democracy and eagles, you a snowflake.

This is the type of stance we’ve become accustomed to expect from conservative activists and random, former high school friends in our FB feeds—but recently, notorious nice-guy Dwayne Johnson appeared to echoed these sentiments. And. I. Was. SHOOK.

“I don’t have to agree with what somebody thinks, who they vote for, what they voted for, what they think, but I will back their right to say or believe it. That’s democracy,” Johnson, a.k.a. The Rock, was quoted as saying to British tabloid The Daily Star. “So many good people fought for freedom—but this generation are looking for a reason to be offended. If you are not agreeing with them then they are offended—and that is not what so many great men and women fought for.”

My initial reaction was: WAIT, WHAT IS HAPPENING. Is this some kind of Freaky Friday situation where Lahren and Johnson have switched bods? (Lahren wishes, LOL.) While I would watch the heck out of that movie, I was not here for this IRL. And yes, I realized that getting ticked off by the insinuation that my generation is too easily offended was about as ironic as The Rock is beefy. But this snowflake was fired up.

According to GQ, referring to people as “snowflakes” spawned from Chuck Palahniuk’s iconic novel Fight Club and a reality-check delivered by protagonist Tyler Durden: “You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.” ThinkProgress added that the term, which gained popularity in the Trump and Brexit era, may have also, back in the day, been used to refer to a person who supported slavery (i.e. people were called “snowflakes” because they valued white lives over Black lives)—making the current use against people fighting racism straight up ridiculous.

Recently, calling people “snowflakes” has become a lazy, blanket response to response to any liberal viewpoint. It’s like the internet equivalent of calling someone a “stoopid” on the playground. It’s a label, not a thoughtful response, and it’s used in an effort to shut down debate, rather than engage with the issues being raised. And listen, I get it. Not every single trending topic on Twitter is worthy of fire and fury. Reconsidering the lyrics of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” wasn’t exactly the most pressing issue of 2018—but it reflected a greater push against the institutionalized patriarchy, and normalized sexual harassment, that we’ve all been told to accept. And though labelling people as “snowflakes” for proposing views that contrast the mainstream may seem flippant, it is actually a strategic tactic used to reframe liberal viewpoints or perspectives from marginalized communities as simply the views of weak, whining individuals rather than perspectives that deserve to be heard.

That’s why I took issue with Johnson’s falsified quotes that seemed to say an entire generation was just looking for a reason to be offended, and that raising these issues is somehow counter to freedom, dismissing very real concerns. In fact, part of the reason that this news story went viral in the first place was because it seemed to directly contrast The Rock’s political history.

The wrestler-turned-movie star is the second-highest paid actor in Hollywood didn’t publicly endorse Republicans or Democrats in the 2016 election (and, actually, didn’t vote), but he has aligned with the left on many issues over the past few years. He opposed Trump’s Muslim ban, telling GQ, “I believe in inclusion. Our country was built on that, and it continues to be made strong by that.” Following the shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school, Johnson tweeted his support for the anti-gun March for Our Lives protest. And in a Rolling Stone interview last April, Johnson, who briefly played in the Canadian Football League (CFL), said that if he were a professional player today, he “would either have knelt or raised my fist in solidarity.” Plus, his IG is filled messages about raising his daughters to be strong feminists.

All of these reasons, plus his iconic turtleneck and fanny pack combo, made liberal millennials love the 46-year-old star—and made him a snowflake just like the rest of us. “We thankfully now live in a world that has progressed over the last 30 or 40 years. People can be who they want, be with who they want, and live how they want,” the Daily Star falsely quoted him as saying. “That can only be a good thing—but generation snowflake or, whatever you want to call them, are actually putting us backwards.”

Here’s the thing: If the premise of being a “snowflake” is the belief that everyone is unique, going against that would suggest that we are all the same. But that assertion erases issues like racism and sexism, systemic problems which are predicated on the fact that no, not all people are treated equally, and it has taken persistent incremental change to create the decades of progress that are cited in that made-up quote.

And when the real Dwayne Johnson stood up, he stood for that exact viewpoint. “If I ever had an issue with someone, a group, community or a generation — I’d seek them out, create dialogue and do my best to understand them,” he wrote in the caption accompanying his Instagram video responding to the fake Daily Star story. “Criticizing ain’t my style. I don’t cast stones and we all get to be who we are.”

Turns out, whether it’s casting stones or dealing with fake news, The Rock is a solid guy through and through.

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