Skip to contents
The Discourse

Who’s More Famous: The Rock or Ellen?

A question for the ages.

the rock ellen
Ellen DeGeneres Show

This week in Discourse Slack—the birthplace of many a great blog—we got into a little debate. (It’s right there in our name—we don’t always agree!) It was pegged to the news that Ellen DeGeneres had tested positive for COVID-19.

“I want to let you all know that I tested positive for Covid-19. Fortunately, I’m feeling fine right now,” the eponymous talk show host tweeted on Thursday.

I’m not in the business of wishing COVID on anyone—well, mostly—but DeGeneres has made herself awfully unpopular recently. After it had been an open secret in show biz world for years that DeGeneres was a nightmare to work for (but was apparent to anyone who watched her infamous interviews with Dakota Johnson or, further back, Mariah Carey), it was widely reported the show fostered a “toxic” workplace culture, with numerous current and former employees speaking out about experiencing racism, sexual harassment, and other misconduct. DeGeneres has apologized and fellow celebs came out of the woodwork to defend her honor.

Anyway! I wondered aloud (in text): Did news of Ellen’s diagnosis make her the most famous person to go public with having COVID? Not even close, I quickly realized. My colleague Rafi reminded me that Tom Hanks (along with his wife, actress Rita Wilson) got COVID. Obviously (I say this, but I had already forgotten), President Trump had COVID, but I was just talking pop culture significance here, not politics. Another colleague reminded me that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had COVID. That settled it for me: The Rock is the most famous celebrity to publicly own up to having COVID. Like almost no other star currently working, The Rock is a bankable movie star in an era where money is all that matters and movies are dead. If anyone can save movies now, it’s The Rock.

But Rafi threw his hat in the ring for DeGeneres being the more famous famous person. “Ellen is on people’s TVs every day, and has been for decades,” he argued. “she’s literally been famous for multiple generations.”

I found this somewhat persuasive but I stood strong. The Rock is international. His nickname comes from one of the most common elements on planet Earth. Given the chance to restate his case again today, Rafi wanted to clarify: “I think saying ‘well, the rock is a movie star’ isn’t the runaway argument it might seem.”

Consensus for my worldview continued to build:

Clearly, I think I’m correct. But I’m curious: Who’s more famous to you, dear reader: The Rock or Ellen?