‘Back rub ploy’ meaning discussed after Alec Baldwin edits text on IG post

Bruno Cooke January 24, 2023
‘Back rub ploy’ meaning discussed after Alec Baldwin edits text on IG post
Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images


Alec Baldwin posted a photo of his wife Hilaria and their son Leo on Instagram on Monday, January 23, 2023, which has led, bizarrely, to discussion among his followers about the meaning of the phrase “back rub ploy.”

The original caption reportedly read: “The old ‘let me give you a back rub’ ploy.”

It now reads: “The old “let me give you a back rub” ploy. Potato chips to follow.”

“I adjusted the text,” Baldwin wrote in a comment, to explain. “I guess because…you know…there is so much of that Reddit trash out there.”

Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Turner

What is the meaning of ‘back rub ploy’ in the context of Alec Baldwin’s Instagram post?

The meaning Alec Baldwin appears to have intended by describing what the picture shows as “the old ‘let me give you a back rub’ ploy” is that his son Leo was offering to give his mother (Alec’s wife Hilaria) a back rub in exchange for a packet of potato chips.

There isn’t really any other meaning one could sensibly draw from the phrase in this context.

It is a picture of a young boy with his hands on his mother’s shoulders. She is sitting on the floor. They are at home. It is a domestic scene.

However, there are followers of Alec Baldwin’s who managed to locate something in the caption that they believed was worth criticising the actor over.

Commenters discuss the meaning of the phrase ‘back rub ploy’ 

“‘Back rub ploy’? What does that even mean in the context of a mother and her child?” comments one user. 

The implication is that it means something worth commenting on. “Does anyone else think this is creepy […] with the caption?” one wrote, as reported by Yahoo. “Pic is sweet. Caption makes it weird.”

Another says Baldwin needs to “consult” his “team” before posting. And, in response, a third says that user needs to “consult” their “former English teachers about how they passed” them with “that awful grammar.” There’s a spelling mistake in the comment.

Yahoo adds that Instagram users have claimed that there is a “suggestive innuendo” in the caption, while others have clarified what Baldwin meant by using the phrase “back rub ploy”: “He means his son is probably trying to get something out of it like being a treat or snack.”

How old are Hilaria and Leo Baldwin?

Born Hillary Lynn Hayward-Thomas in Boston, Massachusetts on January 6, 1984, Hilaria Baldwin is currently 39 years old.

She met Alec Baldwin at the New York restaurant Pure Food and Wine in February 2011. Six months later, they moved to Greenwich Village together. They became engaged in April 2012.

The next year, they started having children, and they now have seven: Carmen Gabriela (born August 23, 2013), Rafael Thomas (June 17, 2015), Leonardo Angel Charles (September 12, 2016), Romeo Alejandro David (May 17, 2018), Eduardo Pau Lucas (September 8, 2020), María Lucía Victoria (February 25, 2021 via surrogate), and Ilaria Catalina Irena (born September 22, 2022).

Leo is therefore six years old. His father Alec is 64.

Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Does Hilaria Baldwin speak Spanish?

Yes, and the Baldwin children attend, or at least attended in 2020, a bilingual Spanish-English school. “I send them to a bilingual school where they have Spanish in school and I speak to them in Spanish at home,” she told The New York Times.

When she and Alec first met, she was speaking in Spanish to an Argentine man and his girlfriend who were sitting at a table next to the one at which Baldwin was sitting.

“He said, ‘Where are you from?’” she told the paper. “And I said, ‘I’m from Boston.’ That was the first thing I said, that has always been my narrative.”

Her older brother moved to Mallorca, as did her parents in 2011. At home (in Boston), the family would speak Spanish and cook Spanish food; “When we weren’t in Spain, we called it ‘we brought Spain into our home,’” she reportedly said. So her family life and upbringing always had a lot to do with Spain and Spanish culture, but she also speaks English as her native language.

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Bruno Cooke has been a freelance journalist since 2019, primarily with GRV Media. He was an early contributor to The Focus, and has written for HITC, Groundviews and the Sheffield University newspaper – he earned his MA in Global Journalism there in 2021. He’s the Spoken Word Poetry Editor for The Friday Poem, and self-published his debut novel Reveries in 2019, which his mum called both a “fine read” and “excellent Christmas present”. Bruno has lived in China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines and likes, among other things: bicycle touring, black and white Japanese films, pub quizzes, fermentation and baklava. In 2023, Bruno will set off with his partner on a round-the-world cycle.