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Last weekend the remake of 'Total Recall' came out, sans mars, or charming 80's special effects, and this week we have the ageing action hero awesome fest that is 'Expendables 2'. This is all perfect since today I want to talk about Arnold Schwarzenegger. Not about his cheating scandal, or his time as governor of California, but about his career and how his fame actually works against him.
In the 80’s and early 90’s, Schwarzenegger was huge at the box office. He was the perfect action movie archetype. He was big and brawny, armed with killer one liners. His movies range from Fantasy, to Science fiction, from action to comedy.

He was a heck of a success for years as a performer, and has been parodied and impersonated to the point that it’s no longer funny. And that’s why a feel bad for him, not because he’s being mocked, but how being mocked has affected his reputation.
I’ve sat and listened to people impersonate Schwarzenegger, saying; “Get to the chopper!” or “Its not a tumour!” and endless other Schwarzenegger quotes. And when I’ve enquired, “What movies are those from?” I’m usually responded to with blank expressions. People love to mock Schwarzenegger, but have never been truly exposed to him outside of the parodies and impersonations. At this point, he is considered nothing BUT the parody.

The way Schwarzenegger is depicted in most places is as incomprehensible buffoon, because of his accent, and the face value appearances of his films. They’re action films after all, how can there be any depth or substance in a movie built around gun fights and car chases? And regarding his accent, how can ANYONE understand what he’s saying? (I’m being sarcastic there, since every narrative has a theme, and his accent isn’t as thick as people seem to think it is).
If you actually watch his movies, you’ll quickly realize Arnold Schwarzenegger is a comedic actor, stuck in an action stars body, and he KNOWS what he is. You can see it in his performances as early as ‘Commando’. He is not disillusioned into thinking that he’s a dramatic actor, he knows the movies he’s in are silly popcorn flicks! He is having fun with his roles, he is enjoying his job, AND it not only shows, but radiates through the screen and into your living room.
That is what makes him an excellent performer, and the reason I always preferred him over fellow action star, Sylvester Stallone.

Stallone has always appeared to me, as wanting to be a serious dramatic actor, and at times has shown he has what it takes, with ‘First Blood’ and ‘Rocky’. But in his action movie roles, even the humorous ones like ‘Demolitionman’ he comes off as stiff and joyless, where Schwarzenegger has fun.
People miss the fact that Schwarzenegger is having fun, and seem to refuse to have fun with him, like your above enjoying something as ‘stupid’ as a run of the mill action movie. But there is no shame in enjoying it as long as the film isn’t ashamed of what it is.
Lets for a moment personify film. A film that is self aware, knows what it is, and plays itself out knowing the score, is something to enjoy. A film that isn’t aware of the fact that its generic, and has no idea what it really is, is retarded, and I personally don’t enjoy.

Example, ‘Twilight’ is not original or unique as far as narrative is concerned. As a story it’s very derivative. And there is nothing wrong with that in itself. Everything is pretty much derivative of something else. But if you’re derivative, but package yourself as original, then you’re a hack.

To get back on point, is Schwarzenegger ever going to win best actor? No. But is he as bad actor as everyone seems to think he is? No. When you ignore the parodies, and look at him for what he is, he’s as good as most big name stars. The fact of the matter is, he is not the parody, he is a performer, and should be judged as such. And if you’re not willing to hop on, and ride the wave that is Schwarzenegger, then it is kind of your own loss.




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