French wax museum denies whitewashing The Rock, calls it an honest mistake

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A couple of days ago a French wax museum, Musee Grevin, came under fire for a wax figure of Dwayne The Rock Johnson. It had a conspicuously light skin tone that didn’t look anything like him (and weird eyes! I am glad I am not the only person who noticed that). People on social media compared the figure to Mr Clean. Dwayne commented on the whole thing on Instagram and I thought he was pretty good-natured about it. He said he was going to reach out to the museum–imagine being the person to take that phone call. He was “rather friendly” on the phone according to the museum’s head of PR. They updated the wax figure’s skin tone within 24 hours using a kind of oil paint, and it does look more like him. But they’re still insisting it was just an honest mistake. I think it was unconscious bias.

France’s Musée Grévin took Dwayne Johnson’s comments and social media outcry over the star’s botched wax figure to heart. Within 24 hours, his figure was updated by artists who gave it a slightly darker skin tone with meticulous strokes of oil painting. Johnson’s suburban dad-esque outfit, however, has remained.

“We found his reaction rather friendly when addressing the fact that his figure was indeed whiter than it should have been,” said Veronique Berecz, the museum’s head of PR who has been at the iconic museum for over four decades and worked closely with the likes of Michael Jackson, Nicolas Cage and Donald Sutherland on their wax figures.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t get to meet Dwayne Johnson so we used several photos — but as it turns out, pictures can be very tricky because the nuances of skin tones can differ depending on the lighting on photos,” she said. “Every time, the sculptor has to determine the exact face and body shapes, the volumes and it’s always a very complicated challenge if we haven’t met the person.”

They are still blaming this on inaccurate lighting in photos: Asked about her thoughts on accusations of the museum “whitewashing” Johnson’s figure, she said it didn’t cross anyone’s minds. “This has nothing do with it — we just made an honest mistake based on the photos we looked at,” she said. “After we saw all these reactions on different blogs and social networks, we changed it immediately.”

[From Yahoo]

Here’s the kicker with this whole “bad lighting in photos” excuse. In almost every news story about the wax figure, they display a picture of the real Dwayne Johnson with a picture of the wax figure next to it, so people can see the difference in skin tone (that’s also how we ran the original story). My point is that there are plenty of photos out there that show his skin color accurately, because news sites are using them. So it’s just disingenuous to me that the lighting in reference photos is to blame. Dwayne The Rock Johnson is hugely famous. There must be millions of pictures of him out there, and dozens of hours of footage. There were resources out there to create a figure that was more accurate. Unconscious bias is a real thing.

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Original wax figure:

Images credit:, Getty and via Instagram

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10 Responses to “French wax museum denies whitewashing The Rock, calls it an honest mistake”

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  1. StillDouchesOfCambridge says:

    Unconscious bias is a real thing or they used vin diesel’s data by mistake

    • Taytanish says:

      I’ll say this one more time, this wax is more of Vin Diesel than it is of Dwayne Johnson, that’s it. This is NOT Dwayne the rock Johnson, period; these folks are not fooling anyone.

  2. MinorityReport says:

    I agree that there are plenty of photos showing his darker skin tone, but I do want to say that the way photos are lit is definitely a thing. From the late nineties to the early teens, I would have sworn Beyoncé was a light skinned black woman. Every photo shows her looking very fair. I am not. I’m not dark skinned like Lupita, but I definitely felt more like Kerry Washington than Beyoncé. Imagine my surprise when she was a rep for L’Oréal and I was shopping in the store and they said Bey’s foundation color was the same as mine. Ain’t no way. 😳

  3. TQ says:

    Yeah, the museum’s explanation is total BS. 100% got caught trying to whitewash. SMDH. Glad he called them out on it.

  4. Concern Fae says:

    Also photoshop is a thing. I can totally see someone looking for reference photos that clearly showed his smile lines, etc. and choosing ones that had been touched up. The first thing a lazy photo editor will do is lighten the skin. Which is its own form of bias.

  5. Sean says:

    In addition to whitewashing, it doesn’t even look like Dwayne Johnson. Like, were they even trying?

  6. Beverley says:

    It’s been my observation that whenever possible, white fans try to lighten their Black favorites’ skin tones in art and print media. White folks apparently still feel some type of way about darker skin and prefer to whitewash their favorites whenever possible. That’s why Beyoncé, Keke Palmer, Janet Jackson, Rhianna, and Prince (to name just a few) are often portrayed as having much lighter skin in print media. Not surprised they tried to pull something similar in Dwayne Johnson’s wax figure.

  7. AngryJayne says:

    The eyes, shape of his head, size of his eyes, shape of his ears, bone structure under his cheekbones- all of it is off. Not just his complexion.

    This…is not DJ.

    That’s all.