Crawling out from under The Rock: Tales of an accidental Twitter feud

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    US wrestler and actor Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson (Photo by Tristar Media/Getty Images)

    I always found ‘sports entertainment’ an odd term.

    I think this is because I find sports, you know, entertaining, so I don’t see a need to create a version of sport specifically for entertainment purposes.

    Nevertheless, ‘sports entertainment’ is the category in which the art of professional wrestling places itself: at least since 1989, when Vince McMahon admitted that wrestling wasn’t a competitive sport to save on taxes.

    And although I prefer what I guess are the non-entertainment-affiliated sports, I can’t deny the hold pro wrestling has on the public consciousness.

    My own son is an obsessive WWE fan, and thanks to him I know far more about wrestling than I ever hoped to.

    However, even without the endless stream of wrestling factoids flowing from my offspring, I would be aware of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

    He’s probably the only wrestling star to thus far build a remotely credible acting career, he stands apart from the pack, at least for me, because he is possessed of enormous charisma and a talent that goes well beyond oiled pecs.

    He also, I believe, has a pretty good sense of humour, which I was grateful for after I sent this tweet earlier this week:

    This was, of course, a joke – I am aware that wrestling is scripted entertainment and just as real as any other form of it, and that the athleticism of the participants and injuries suffered are very real.

    I knew this even before several hundred strangers informed me of it this week.

    The joke was…well, that someone like Dwayne Johnson has heard this a million times before, as has every wrestler and wrestling fan, and it’s absurd to think that he might not have, especially absurd to think of a random nobody on Twitter chiming in apropos of nothing to wrestlesplain to a megastar like The Rock.

    Now, anyone who knows me, who follows me on Twitter, would probably get this, because they’re used to seeing my dumb jokes.

    And I made the joke for my followers.

    With 12 million followers of his own, and presumably thousands of tweets aimed at him every day, I thought it vanishingly unlikely that The Rock would even see my tweet. I tweet to famous people quite often, and they very rarely reply – hell, people I know don’t reply all that much. I’m just that annoying.

    Except, sometimes, that million-to-one shot comes off. He read it. It tickled his fancy.

    This, I have to say, was pretty cool. Have YOU ever been told to go fuck yourself by a star of the Fast and Furious franchise? I thought not.

    I also thought, he seems to be having a laugh.

    I hoped he was having a laugh – not because I am devastated by the thought of a celebrity insulting me, but because I am a big Rock fan and I hated to think I’d given him the impression I wasn’t with my stupid gag.

    So I continued the bantz, then came my favourite reply of all:

    The Rock appreciated my joke! Halle-frickin’-lujah! I mean it’s great when the little people laugh at your jokes, but it’s just a whole other level when a rich important movie star does, you know? The Rock, as we all know, is better than us, and getting a compliment from him is a highlight in anyone’s life, right?

    So we engaged in a little love-in:

    Yeah! Cyber-fistbump from The Rock, baby! What have you done with your life?

    It was awesome.

    But the thing is, when The Rock quote-tweets you, the conversation is not just between you and him. It’s between you and his 12 million followers. And if Dwayne Johnson has a pretty healthy sense of humour, it’s fair to say that trait is not as evident among his fans as it could be.

    My Twitter mentions blew up. As you can see, the tweet where he told me to go fuck myself is pushing 60,000 Likes. And just about everyone who Liked it wanted to chime in to tell me exactly what they thought of me. And what they thought of me was: not much. The most polite of them just posted gifs:

    There were also a few hundred variations on this theme:

    For the record, yes I smell what The Rock is cooking. Besides inquiries as to my awareness of culinary odours, there were also a lot of mentions of the “Rock Bottom” and the “People’s Elbow”, which I understand are terms for acts of violence to which the Rock’s tweet had apparently subjected me to.

    There was also a fair bit of this:

    Which…I mean, I never wanted to fuck with The Rock. Honest!

    Not that fucking with The Rock seems to have had that many deleterious effects so far, to be frank.

    Also:

    It’s nice when they take an interest.

    The replies are way too numerous to go through in detail – I woke up on Tuesday to the sight of 545 of them that I’d acquired overnight, and I reckon it’s been four or five times that many in total. But they’re mostly just repeats of a few basic themes. Apart from those referenced above, they include:

    Go fuck yourself
    You’re a douchebag
    Movies aren’t real either and you watch them don’t you HAHAHAHAHA
    You are a jabroni (?)
    Why don’t you get in the ring and let a large man beat you to death and then tell him it’s fake
    You have been destroyed by The Rock, delete your account
    Go fuck yourself

    The volume of these replies has been insane and hilarious. But even more mental is that people decided that somehow this was a…news story? It was on News.com.au .

    It was on the Daily Mail.

    It was on Junkee.

    It was on Pedestrian (I’ve been “rinsed”?).

    It was on Buzzfeed.

    It was…everywhere.

    I’m even on reddit, whatever that is.

    I guess either there wasn’t a lot of news around, or the news everywhere else was so awful we needed something genuinely pointless to talk about to make it all less stressful.

    The weird thing about the news stories is that they weren’t much interested in the follow-up tweets, just the “go fuck yourself”.

    As Buzzfeed says, it was “perfectly savage”, which I think says something about just how low standards for repartee have got these days.

    I mean, as a joke it was funny: as an actual putdown, it’s not exactly Wildean.

    I don’t think anything about this story is particularly newsworthy, but when your only angle is “famous person tells non-famous person to fuck themselves,” it seems even less interesting than it is.

    Still, that is the story that has gone down in the annals of history: I learnt “not to tangle with The Rock”.

    I think the image being presented is of me cowering in hiding, lying on my floor and weeping over the ruins of my shattered life, wondering how I can ever pick up the pieces after this almighty own.

    But the joke is on them: I was weeping over the ruins of my shattered life WAY before this happened.

    It has actually been a lot of fun, I think not just for me, but for everyone. The Rock had fun sparring with a fan, I got the thrill of interaction with The Rock, all The Rock’s fans had a great time ripping me apart online, and everyone watching got to forget about actual news for a few minutes.

    It was the maddest, merriest day of all the new year. I look forward to being told to go fuck myself by many more celebrities in future.

    And I think I finally, truly, understand the meaning of ‘sports entertainment’.

    Ben Pobjie
    Ben Pobjie

    Ben Pobjie is a writer & comedian writing on The Age, New Matilda and The Roar, whose promising rugby career was tragically cut short the day he stopped playing rugby and had a pizza instead. The most he has ever cried was the day Balmain lost the 1989 grand final. Today he enjoys watching Wallabies, Swans, baggy greens, and Storms.

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