Several years ago around the holidays, my school was doing one of those “Secret Santa” exchanges. We all got a slip in our mailboxes ahead of time that asked you to list your favorite color, food, magazine, etc. I was filling mine out and got to favorite actor; without hesitation, I wrote Arnold Schwarzenegger. The secretary walked by and glanced at my sheet.
“Are you being serious? Arnold Schwarzenegger?!” she laughed, and I blushed a bit and said, “Yeahhh…it’s true.” Wherein the whole office staff started busting up and another one of my many strange interests was out of the bag. I tried to explain why he’s so impressive and memorable to me, but they looked incredulous.
It’s true. Arnold is numero uno in my book; so much so, that at some point I started my own tradition called “Schwarzenegger Spring Break” – where I watch a classic Arnold movie every day of Spring Break. Thor and my’s anniversary happens to fall on Spring Break and I have a memory of us eating candy and watching Total Recall by the fire at the Sunriver Resort. (That’s my kind of perfect day).
When I think of formative moments in my life, I’m not joking when I say that seeing some of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movies come to mind. I remember leaning forward in my movie theater seat, biting my nails to the quick as I watched Terminator 2 on opening night; or renting Commando and Predator with my dad on the weekends, when other girls were probably watching The Little Mermaid.
In college, I wrote a paper on Commando for my Melodrama in Film class (something about the hegemony of the male patriarch, no doubt), and I made sure to sneak in the quote, “Let off some steam, Bennett!”
Let me be clear that I don’t think every Arnold movie is a masterpiece (and my heart sank with his lame “comeback” movie, The Last Stand). Let’s just say Jingle All the Way s-u-c-k-e-d. But I’m not all about Arnold the actor – I’m about Arnold the man; had I lived in California, I would have voted for him – really! I read his platform and agreed with his fiscally conservative policies and desire to improve the health and fitness of students across the state.
Thus it may come to a surprise to you (and especially me!) that I have never seen the full length movie that spring boarded his screen career. Until tonight, that is.
Pumping Iron (1977) – If you’ve never seen it, prepare for some sweet 70s porno music and a lot of oiled up muscles (would you expect anything else?). Although Arnold isn’t the only star of this film, his charisma makes his scenes a lot more magnetic than the rest. Lou Ferrigno appears as Arnold’s main competitor, but considering we all know Arnold held the Mr. Olympia title for years, there wasn’t all that much tension for me.
Instead, I love what a competitor he is, without being a total jerk. Sure, he’s arrogant at times, but he’s also altruistic and honestly seems to want others to be the best competitors they can be, too. I admit that my interest was waning about halfway through (even I can get tired of watching people lifting weights), but Arnold’s relaxed reaction to winning this title is satisfying, and then his celebration smoking a cigarette with a plate of fried chicken rocks my world.
I don’t care what anyone else says, I’m all about Schwarzenegger for President 2016. Get me a damned bumper sticker!