Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson announces his candidacy for the Presidency of the United States. He does so with the full force of every movie studio he’s ever worked for, and the WWE behind him. All of them know that Johnson is money; an articulate, beloved leading man with physicality, intelligence and a massive following.
He appears on Saturday Night Live. He’s the Jimmy Fallon guest that finally removes the stain of his last, infamous candidate interview. He’s in promos every week on SmackDown. The tangible sense of relief, of this being the candidate that will let McMahon back into something approaching respectability after the Trump years is tangible. Late night comedians point out just how few black men have ever been WWE champion. The same people who always laugh, laugh,
On the campaign trail, Johnson makes the same joke. It’s good natured, and the same audience that cheered him on when he dismantled Stone Cold Steve Austin are swept up in his mellifluous voice and joyous self-deprecation.
The Smackdown promos stop happening. When Johnson is elected, McMahon and his family are nowhere to be found in his cabinet.
President Dwayne Johnson attends his first natural disaster. He’s there for a week, working on the front lines and helping people out. He memorizes every name, follows up on every tragic case. His photos, taken later with the first responders, look like a still from his movies. His bald, gleaming head streaked in dirt, his oak-sized biceps squeezing out from under a POTUS UA t-shirt. He’s serious. Respectful. A leader.
President Dwayne Johnson swept the military vote and, somehow, managed to do so in a manner that doesn’t frighten people. There are no militia here, no shrill, spittle-flecked tirades in his honor on conspiracy youtube channels that seem to be transmitting from an infinitely stupider timeline. There are precious few anti-Johnson tirades too. Yes he’s black, not that they’d ever admit that was the problem ‘the last time’. Yes he’s articulate, and kind, and supports LGBT rights.
But he’s also Luke Hobbs, gun toting secret service agent.
He’s also Davis Okoye, veteran turned animal handler turned monster puncher.
He’s also Beck, the physically terrifying, gun hating bounty hunter whose friend’s life and death is worn on his skin.
He’s also The Rock. And they smell what The Rock is cooking.
President Johnson attends the funeral of his predecessor. He does with the same stentorian calm and dignity that defines his response to every tragedy. He gives a eulogy that is criticized by some as being too forgiving and by others as being nowhere near forgiving enough. He does not take questions.
School shootings still take place. Veteran care is still underfunded. Health care and Guantanamo are still issues that have the President’s full attention but not even his considerable muscle can move them terribly far. President Johnson launches initiatives, takes town hall meetings, holds the country together with his voice and force of will. Cartoonists run images of the president as Maui, hugging the Republican elephant and the Democratic donkey. Neither look happy. The caption is ‘You’re welcome?!’
President Johnson’s celebrity, and the vast reservoir of good will that the man has built up, is instrumental in getting him a second term. Some things have improved; the economy, the environment, veteran’s rights, tax breaks for Hollywood. Most areas of life have remained the same. The argument is made that Johnson is a conciliator, a man clever enough to know where he isn’t clever enough. Sometimes not breaking something worse than it already is can be Presidential too.
The late-night comedians joke about how he’s bald so we can’t see the grey hairs. Two weeks later, Johnson has returned to the salt and pepper beard he sported before taking office.
Johnson’s eight years in office are defined by a sense of relief. The world watches Instagram for presidential workout videos instead of twitter for presidential shrieking. The years long pause on climate change science is if not reversed then certainly unstuck. There are no twitter wars, aside from the occasional push up contest with his bodyguards.
It’s…nice. Funny. Stable.
The world feels, for the first time in a long time, like it might not have an impending BEST BY date. He leaves office older, deeper lines on his face but with nothing new and terrible on his ledger, just most of what he inherited. America has no new wars, there have been no major terrorist attacks. The descent has stopped, the columnists say. The ascent has begun, the lobbyists say.
Johnson takes two years off. He returns in a Logan-esque final Hobbs movie which, finally, gets him the Oscar nomination. He throws the eyebrow, for the first time in a decade, at his acceptance speech.
The crowd goes wild. Just like they always did.
That year, Johnson endorses John Cena’s presidential campaign and it all starts up again. Nothing much worse. Nothing much better. But at least the fireworks are pretty.