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Wokeism in 1980s Schwarzenegger Movies

When you look at action-movie stars, there is probably nobody who had a better decade than Schwarzenegger had in the 1980s. I recently watched all of his 1980s movies, but not just for the sake of entertainment. Instead, I was also curious if there were obvious signs of Hollywood being up to its usual shenanigans and trying to sneak in “progressive” views. There were some instances. Overall, it is not an excessive amount but what is there is hardly trivial. In addition to wokeism, I will also briefly talk about how well those movies hold up. I should perhaps add that I watched most of those movies in the past, but only on VHS or DVD. Watching them in HD was quite a different experience, and it did not always help. This is much more of an issue with Schwarzenegger’s 1990s movies as I found that he looks about ten years older than he actually is, most certainly due to decades of steroids abuse.

Conan the Barbarian (1982)
The first Conan movie is one of the manliest movies out there. It breathes male virtues. I absolutely love how little dialogue there is. Instead, you get highly effective camera work, with lots of tension, but also plenty of meditative moments. This movie is a little above two hours in length but time just flies by. This is one of my all-time favorite movies, and not just because I could not even detect an ounce of wokeism.

Conan the Destroyer (1984)
Given how much I enjoyed its prequel, Conan the Destroyer was a real let-down. It feels as if the movie was made by an entirely different crew. The black actress Grace Jones, which adds virtually nothing to the plot, gets a lot of screen time. She behaves as some kind of cross between a human and an animal, but it seems to be intended a serious instead of comic relief. It is absolutely jarring. Oh, and of course this really skinny black woman beats up burly men without breaking a sweat. To make up for Grace Jones, you get to feast your eyes on a super-hot teenage blonde but remember that you are not supposed to find her attractive!

The Terminator (1984)
The Terminator is, in my view, Schwarzenegger’s best movie, with Total Recall (1990) being a close second. I think that it is also James Cameron’s best movie. The sense of dread is incredible and unmatched to this day. Yet, as great as the movie is, there is a staggering amount of wokeness in it. The boyfriend of Sarah Connor’s bestie, for instance, is depicted as some kind of retard in a telephone conversation I will not spoil. There is furthermore a black police chief who is surrounded by a bunch of white butt boys. Lastly, and most importantly, Sarah Connor turns out to be a strong wahmen who does not need a man. She finishes off the terminator, and embarks on single motherhood. She is so tough that this will not be any challenge for her. The saving grace is that this is not shoved in your face. Instead, the angle is that Sarah Connor grows in the face of severe challenge.

Red Sonja (1985)
The third Conan movie was supposed to introduce Brigitte Nielsen to the world but due to Schwarzenegger’s meteoric rise to fame, his intended cameo turned into a leading role. The movie is basically a strong-wahmen narrative, with Red Sonja looking down on all men. No man every defeated her. She is so strong that she can hold her own against Schwarzenegger’s character. There is also a female warrior cult, which was unintentionally humorous. In one scene, they conduct a ritual in which female warriors form a circle. They hold up a sword parallel to the ground, undoubtedly a very light movie prop. Yet, those women are so weak that you see those swords wavering. It completely wrecks the mood of this scene.

Commando (1985)
In Commando, Schwarzenegger plays a retired elite soldier who acquires a black female side kick who is super competent. She can fly planes and fire rocket launchers, and at the end, she becomes the love interest of the main character. Oh, and Schwarzenegger’s character is such a good dad that he kisses his pre-teen movie daughter casually on the lips. I found this quite unpalatable. The action is decent nonetheless, but you will probably find this movie forgettable.

Raw Deal (1986)
Raw Deal is probably Schwarzenegger’s least known 1980s movie. I found it better than Commando and the Conan sequels, so it was a bit puzzling why it is so overlooked. The action is grounded in reality and the main character is ultra-masculine. The movie gets bonus points for showing that the wife of the protagonist is an unhappy, unproductive, nagging alcoholic. This is noteworthy because you rarely ever see such realistic depictions of women. No, of course I do not want to insinuate that all women are like that but the behavior of this woman is very believable. There is a morsel of wokeness in the form of a cross-dresser, but there is a good chance that this was done as a contrast to the ultra-masculine protagonist.

Predator (1987)
Watching Predator in 1080p is a treat. I had pretty bad memories of watching this movie in VHS and a DVD rip I came across years later looked pretty bad, too. Yet, in proper HD the details of the jungle are a visual treat. The movie is solid, even though I quite dislike the eponymous antagonist. In terms of wokeness, you get a typical 1980s black/white pair with Dutch, played by Schwarzenegger, and Dillon. This feels really forced. In contrast, I do not mind the other black soldier in the cast at all. He fits a lot better than Dillon.

Running Man (1987)
While Running Man was critically panned, it is a pretty decent movie. Schwarzenegger himself does not have a high opinion of it, which it perhaps surprising. The movie holds up quite well and is a fun watch. I thought that this movie inspired the hit 1990s arcade game Smash TV, and this is indeed the case. There is one quite appalling scene in the movie, in which the antagonist “Fireball” descends from above. When one of the sidekicks of Schwarzenegger’s character exclaims, “Jesus Christ!”, he quips, “Guess again!” I would not have picked up on this years ago, but given the strong anti-Christian undercurrent in Hollywood, I find it unlikely that this line has no deeper significance. It is a mockery of Christianity.

Red Heat (1988)
In Red Heat, Schwarzenegger plays a Russian policeman who gets sent to the US to bring some drug dealer to justice. He pairs up with Jim Belushi, and the two make a great pair. The movie aged very well. What did not age so well where the anti-white soliloquies, which taught me that “the US is a country built on exploiting the black man”. The antagonist further states that his ambition is to “sell drugs to every white man in the world, and his sister”. In light of the Sackler family working feverishly to get White America hooked on opioids, this really is a rather surprising statement. OxyContin was probably in active development when Red Heat was produced, so this is an odd coincidence. I am sure that there is absolutely nothing to it, of course.

Twins (1988)
In his biography, Schwarzenegger makes it sound as if he wanted to explore comedy due to some innate interest of his. I think that it was clear to him that he would be less believable as an action hero in his 50s, so he branched out into comedy. Be it as it may, Twins is surprisingly entertaining. It is also a surprisingly based movie as it depicts both men and women in stereotypical roles. This is also part of the comedy, of course. Still, I found it quite refreshing to watch this movie. This movie could have been packed to the gills with wokeness, but it is not. This will come in Schwarzenegger’s latter comedies.

The only really bad movie in the ten listed above is Red Sonja. The others I found worth watching, even Conan the Destroyer. My two favorite Schwarzenegger movies from the 1980s are Conan the Barbarian and The Terminator. Those are fantastic movies that should appeal to any man. The last really great Schwarzenegger movie is probably Total Recall (1990). Afterwards, his movies seemed to address an entire different audience, starting with Terminator 2, which was great popcorn cinema but had a tone that was completely different from The Terminator.

12 thoughts on “Wokeism in 1980s Schwarzenegger Movies

  1. I’ve never been much of a cinema guy. The only one of these I have watched is The Terminator. Oh, and I skimmed a little of Conan The Destroyer on TV long ago. Yes, you guessed it, because Olivia D’Abo caught my eye.

    I have to check all of the films in your list. I heard good things about the original Robocop with Peter Weller for the longest time, but only recently got around to watching it. I was pleasantly surprised. If the best of 80’s action movies are like this, I’m in for a treat.

    1. I also enjoyed Rambo: First Blood and Kickboxer. Also, check out the original Predator movie if you’e in for some action/sci-fi/horror. Mel Gibson’s Mad Max movies were good, too.

    2. I also warmly recommend the Rocky movies; the Creed sequels are quite lame, though. Stallone was a big star in the 1980s, but he did not have a string of mega successes like Schwarzenegger. However, he managed to stay relevant for much longer, after a lull in the 1990s. Schwarzenegger’s output after True Lies (1994) went from bad to worse whereas Stallone, in his old age, managed to put out very good sequels to Rocky and Rambo. For an action hero, he has had a remarkable career, perhaps only second to Clint Eastwood. Also, you should definitely watch Bloodsport, which I mentioned in another article. It is Van Damme’s best movie and it holds up extremely well.

    3. If you liked Robocop you will love the original Total Recall (1990). Stylistically, they are somewhat comparable, due to Verhoeven directing both.

    4. Are you a Bruce Lee fan, Aaron? There are at least two of his movies that I thought were quite good.

    5. I am not sure I watched many Bruce Lee movies. Which ones do you recommend? Perhaps Bruce Lee’s height of popularity was a bit before my time, but I remember quite enjoying movies starring Tony Jaa. His breakthrough was with Ong-Bak.

    6. I saw Tony Jaa’s The Protector when it came out and was extremely impressed with the stunts in that movie. I’m not a huge Bruce Lee fan or anything but I remember really enjoying Game of Death and Enter the Dragon. Both of those were some of his later films and are in color.

    7. This is a fantastic scene. I don’t know whether there is anybody in this movie genre who is better than Tony Jaa but my impression back then was that he was on an entirely different level. Unfortunately, it seems that we cannot have martial arts movie anymore in the current year either.

    8. Yeah, I agree that Tony certainly seems a cut above the rest. Jacki Chan, for instance, tended to have more of an artistic flare to his stunts, whereas Tony Jaa is much more visceral and raw.

      Btw, concerning wokeism in movies, I just turned on Kick Boxer. During the opening montage the older brother picks up a pro at the Red Light District in Bangkok. I thought it was a pretty nice touch.

    9. Interestingly, back in the days we would not even have paid attention to this. Today, though, this stands out because the media paints such an absurd picture of society.

  2. Terminator, Twins and Total Recall are fantastic. After watching Arnold’s documentary I wanted to watch Conan the Barbarian and Commando, but I will skip the second one after your review.

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