Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Arnold's problem: no role models

I'm reflecting on Arnold Schwarzenegger's movie career today and thinking that he very rarely plays a father and even less frequently plays a husband. Sure, sometimes he ends up in a relationship at the end of the film ("Kindergarten Cop,"), but he's usually just a single guy -- or a robot -- doing his job.

His fatherly roles, while few, are actually fairly respectable as models of behavior. In both "True Lies" and "Commando," he risked his life to save his daughter (Alyssa Milano in the latter). He was arguably playing John Connor's father in Terminators 2 and 3, and again, the character's actions were commendable. Recall Sarah Connor's assessment in T2:
The Terminator would never stop, it would never leave him. And it would never hurt him, never shout at him or get drunk and hit him or say it was too busy to spend time with him. It would always be there and it would die to protect him. Of all the would-be fathers who came and went over the years, this thing, this machine was the only one who measured up. In an insane world, it was the sanest choice.
And in both films, he did end up dying to save John. T3 was particularly interesting -- he died deceiving John in order to save his life. Hey, sometimes dads have to do unpleasant things.

But when was he a husband?

From what we know of Schwarzenegger's own upbringing, his father wasn't much of a role model, either. I'm not saying any of this excuses his behavior, but we should keep in mind that he hasn't had a whole lot of great training in being a husband.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, but.

In Total Recall, if the Mars stuff really happened then he didn't shoot *his* wife in the head, he shot *Cohaagen's* wife in the head. And if the Mars stuff wasn't real, he never shot anybody in the anything.

Also: he was married, sort of, in _The 6th Day_. But because that one monkeys around with identity too* it's hard to figure out what Arnold's role as a husband is. But, Clone-Arnie was willing to just walk away instead of fighting for, I dunno, equal time with the family or something.

*That makes the movie sound way smarter than it is.

Seth Masket said...

Good points. I think my main argument still stands.