In the ongoing discussion of the pulp revolution making its way around the blogosphere, one question has vexed many who have entered the fray: what, exactly, does it mean to be “pulp?” Many have tried to answer. Most have struggled. The current winner seems to be answer by exclusion: defining what pulp isn’t. Today I propose an answer by analogy: Dwayne Johnson (aka “The Rock”) is the living embodiment of Pulp.
His entire career is built on charisma. But where does his charisma come from? He’s not a particularly great actor. Many of his movies aren’t particularly great from a writing standpoint, yet people love them. Why?
It’s because he’s having fun. And that fun is infectious. It doesn’t matter if the movie concept is patently absurd (The Fast and the Furious). That’s ok – in fact, it’s a great Pulp trait. It’s crazy, but it’s fun. It doesn’t matter if it’s a mediocre remake (Get Smart). We don’t care if he’s a good guy (The Scorpion King) or a bad guy (The Mummy Returns). It doesn’t even really matter if the movie’s any good (most of his films actually aren’t). Watching him on screen is always tremendous fun.
The Rock picks films that have an absurd – but cool – premise. He plays over-the-top roles, and he plays them as larger than life. His sense of fun shines through in every role, and his fun is infectious. He doesn’t care that people don’t take him seriously – because he never takes himself too seriously, either. His style plays to the tastes of the masses, not the elites. He’s never afraid to make fun of himself.
You ask me, “what is Pulp?” My friends, I give you The Rock.
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