Wokeism in Early-1990s Schwarzenegger Movies

Imagine you binge watch Schwarzenegger’s 1980s movies, and walk away thinking that those movies were even better than you remember them — only to come to the completely opposite conclusion when watching his 1990s movies. Originally, I had planned to watch all movies in which this guy was the lead actor, but this is not likely to happen anytime soon, and the increasing amount of wokeness in his movies, as well as its increasingly poor quality are the main reason. Another issue, which is particularly noticeable if you watch movies in 1080p, is that Schwarzenegger aged pretty badly. In his 40s he looks as if he is in his 50s, and in his post-governator movies he comes across as a decrepit old man. Stallone does not have the same issue, for whatever reason. Anyway, here are quick notes on the remaining Schwarzenegger movies I either fully or partly watched.

Total Recall (1990)
Paul Verhoeven made a great movie with Robocop, and with Total Recall he did an even better job. This movie tells a more or less timeless sci-fi story, with a very interesting hook: imagine someone had wiped your memories and you actually were someone else, and those memories are now coming back, turning your life completely upside down. This is also a surprisingly intelligent movie as it leaves it open if the trip the main character goes on really happens in the world of the movie. It may all just be a long dream, after all.

The action in this movie is great. One aspect I did not like, compared how I remembered it, is that the wife of the protagonist, played by Sharon Stone, does not look like a sex kitten in 1080p. At this point, she is nearing 40 and the wrinkles are showing. This makes the opening scenes a bit jarring. It looked a lot better on VHS. There is minimal wokism in this movie: Sharon Stone’s character can almost hold her own in a fight with the protagonist. Later, on Mars, the protagonist is supported by a female sidekick who channels John Rambo. None of this bothered me much as a good argument can be made that this unrealistic depiction of women is counteracted by the fact that both serve as eye candy, and it is more convincing if they play a role in the story. On a side note, don’t bother with the 2012 remake of this movie. I recall watching it, no pun intended, but I could not remember anything of it, and the second time around, I was so bored that I barely made it to the 30-minute mark.

Kindergarten Cop (1990)
After the surprise success of Twins, Kindergarten Cop was the next attempt by Schwarzenegger to establish himself as a comedic actor. The movie is pure garbage, though. It pushes an anti-children message as they are primarily depicted as nuisances. In the beginning there is a particularly jarring scene in which a boy gets sent to the principal for punching a girl — in retaliation for her poisoning his hamsters. The female teacher tells the boy, in a belittling tone of voice, that said girl was “very sorry” about it, but nonetheless only he has to face the principal. This is supposed to be funny.

Schwarzenegger plays a cop who goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher. Of course, the elementary school he works at has an all-female staff, and they all fawn over him. There are also a lot of single mothers who send their children to that kindergarten. I was quite amused by one of the women furtively glancing at the protagonist’s crotch. This is typically female behavior but you rarely see it depicted in movies. Almost all the women in this movie are divorced single mothers, and all the men are deadbeats. One even left his wife for another man. Promoting homosexuality was not what I had expected at all. I was also disgusted by the fact that this movie that is supposed to be for the entire family deals with plenty of inappropriate subject matter. You hear one kid talking about her mom saying that “dad is a real sex machine”. We see primary school kids hiding away to make out and possibly wanting to bone, and the female colleague of the protagonist casually kisses him on the mouth to say thank you while her fiancé is literally just around the corner. Said guy only serves as comic relief.

Kindergarten Cop could almost have been written for today’s audience as it glorifies single mothers to an absurd degree. The protagonist is a giga-Chad, yet he falls in love with a single mom, and he does not want to be without her and her boy. It is cringe-worthy beyond measure. This movie also taught me that only a life in big, run-down cities full of foreign-born doctors and engineers running amok is worth living because “people moving to small towns are trying to get away from something or they are hiding something”. Fuck this movie. It is one of the worst movies I have seen in my life.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Every time I watch The Terminator, I like it more, but with Terminator 2, the exact opposite is the case. This movie was a technical marvel when it came out, which probably made me look past the shitty story. However, in 1080p the special effects are laughable and make the movie look extremely dated. Years later, we got better effects in video games. Metal Mario in Super Mario 64 looks better than the T-1000.

The tonal shift between Terminator 2 and its prequel is absolutely staggering. The former is a movie seemingly made for retards. It begins with music used for comedic effect, such as playing “Bad To the Bone” in the intro sequence. This is a stark departure from the opening scene of The Terminator. Oh, in the sequel the protagonist also snatches a pair of sunglasses to look cool, because this is what killing machines care about. It makes you wince, but it is nothing compared to the interactions between the protagonist and the boy he has to protect. Among others, he makes the terminator stand on one leg, practice smiling, or do high-fives.

Of course, there is a lot of progressivism in this movie. Sarah Connor makes John Rambo look like a choir boy. She also tells us that a “machine is a better father figure than any man she ever met”. In addition, we learn that the smartest man alive is a black scientist who is about to reconstruct the chip that was left over from the original terminator, which will lead to Skynet coming alive a few years later in the movie’s timeline. This black gentleman is also a family man, with two loving kids. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but somehow I think that this is not an entirely correct depiction of black men. I may just be misinformed, however, and there could be countless genius-level blacks hiding away in secret government or industry labs, working valiantly on moving us towards a Wakanda-like future.

Last Action Hero (1993)
We are going from bad to worse. Last Action Hero is supposed to be another action-comedy, building on the template of Terminator 2. The plot is downright idiotic: a magic movie ticket allows some pre-teen dork to enter the movie world of John Slater, played by Schwarzenegger. This boy gets sucked into the screen, isekai-style. The aforementioned boy is arguably the most dysgenic creature you will see in a major role in a big movie release. I am convinced that this was done to mock the audience. The director basically screams at you that you are this dysgenic boy watching Schwarzenegger, and you do not even get proper Schwarzenegger action. On top, you get incredibly lame jokes. In this movie, Schwarzenegger’s, er, Slater’s signature phrase is “Big mistake!”, which has nothing to do with the best Schwarzenegger one-liners. These were impactful because they were situational. Think of the heavily-accented “Get to the chopper!” in Predator or “I’ll be back” in The Terminator.

I watched this movie a while ago already and could not bring myself to watching it again in its entirety. In terms of wokeness, it immediately stands out that in the first scene of the movie, you see an amorphous mass of policemen and the camera briefly zooms in on a female cop wielding a gun. Of course, there is a black police chief who is surrounded by incompetent white cops, and the mayor turns out to be black, too. It’s just like in the real world.

True Lies (1994)
I did not watch this movie again, but I recall that the female lead, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, can punch as hard as the male protagonist, played by Schwarzenegger.

Junior (1994)
Schwarzenegger plays a dude who gets pregnant. He was a male birthing person before this term existed. This movie is utter garbage. Well, maybe it is not and the only problem is that I find the premise utterly revolting.

At this point, I decided to stop watching Schwarzenegger movies. From what I gather, they did not get any better. In my view, his last great movie was Total Recall. Out of curiosity, I looked up footage of T2-3D: Battle Across Time (1996) online. It makes you wonder if the target audience has an IQ of 85. Then again, this probably how you make a lot of money in Hollywood. I do not watch those Marvel movies, but it seems safe to assume that they are not high-brow affairs. I should probably rewatch Bloodsport to cleans my soul after all this Hollywood garbage.

13 thoughts on “Wokeism in Early-1990s Schwarzenegger Movies

  1. “This black gentleman is also a family man, with two loving kids. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but somehow I think that this is not an entirely correct depiction of black men.”

    After watching Kickboxer I came across Van Damme’s next move Lionheart. To be fair, the movie is pretty bad except that the action is pretty fun. The thing that surprised me was when Lyon and his black accomplice get harassed and then attacked by a gang of blacks in New York simply for being on their turf. It does not end well for the black gang.

    You mentioned watching Bloodsport again, and I recently learned that that movie as well as Kickboxer, Lionheart, and a couple of others were part of a five movie contract that Van Damme had signed with a smaller studio. After his contract ended he started getting bigger Hollywood roles. I’d be willing to wager that those movie were less entertaining.

    1. Fiscal constraints seem to do wonders for creativity. James Cameron is an excellent example. The Terminator was shot on a shoestring budget. According to Schwarzenegger’s autobiography, they did not even have enough money to get the necessary permits for shooting, and they mostly shot in the dark because it was easier for the director as they can fully control the lighting. In addition, it is probably also a lot easier to illegally film in the middle of the night. The story is also very focused and there is also a clear character progression in the case of Sarah Connor. In Terminator 2, on the other hand, you get one action scene after another and character growth consists of the protagonist faking a smile. In addition, the movie is about 2.5 hours long.

    2. It would seem as if when big money enters the picture that impressing or appeasing investors is the top priority. A lot of those early Van Damme movies were able to consistently multiply their initial investment in the box office, yet the same cannot be said of the newest Indiana Jones jones flick.

    3. This is an excellent point. Cameron surely got a lot of attention when he managed to bring in, according to Wikipedia, $78.3m on a $6.4m budget with The Terminator. Ignoring home video sales and assuming a 50/50 split between distributor and cinemas, the investors made (78.3 – 6.4)/2 = ca. 36m. Subtract a generous 3m for marketing and you are looking at a multiple of well over 5x within about a year. You do not get such returns outside of organized crime or perhaps if you get lucky in crypto. One issue, though, as that this does not scale. You can turn a few million bucks into a few dozen million bucks but if you pool a few hundred million bucks you are most likely not going to make billions. The Terminator was something like an indie sensation, but the hugely commercialized sequel did not leave nearly as much an impact. Among movie buffs it seems that The Terminator is held in much higher regards.

      I also looked up the numbers for Terminator 2: It cost $94–102m to make and brought in $519–520.9m. Let’s again assume a 50/50 split and pick the lower bound for the movie costs, and we get (520.9-94)/2 = 213m. This is not even a 2.5x multiple, and this also ignores marketing costs, which were probably dozens of millions. With marketing expenses, you get a return of perhaps 1.5x. Making 150% is still fantastic, but this pales in contrast to the prequel. The risk was also a lot higher. Caroloco, which was also behind Terminator 2, had two box office bombs in 1995, Showgirls and Cutthroat Island, and then they were gone. (Showgirls is a horrifically bad movie, by the way.)

      I also wonder if the limited budget helped Jim Cameron remain focused. In Terminator 2 there are some licensed music tracks, which undermine the atmosphere of the movie. Within the first few minutes, you ask yourself if this movie is some kind of elaborate joke, giving a massive middle finger to fans of the original.

    4. Speaking of flops, check out the newest The Flash movie. It’s safe to assume the marketing for this film was absurd, as there were a bunch of celebrities shilling this movie in unison for some strange reason. Among them was even Hideo Kojima talking the movie up on twitter. I find it unlikely that all of these influential people were legitimately blown away by this film.

    5. “Fiscal constraints seem to do wonders for creativity. James Cameron is an excellent example.”

      Necessity is a mother.

      “The story is also very focused and there is also a clear character progression in the case of Sarah Connor.”

      There’s also some progression in deleted scenes of Paul Winfield’s police lieutenant Traxler, who gradually comes to believe Reese’s story. As Reese and Sarah are escaping, they stumble across the dying Traxler, who hands Reese his pistol and tells him to do whatever he has to to keep Sarah alive.

      There’s also a deleted scene in which Sarah wants to blow up Cyberdyne but is overruled by Reese who insists their first priority is survival. Somehow this argument becomes so heated that they scuffle, which I guess triggers his PTSD and he nearly shoots her before coming to his senses. Then he breaks down and cries about how awful things were in the future. The comments on this scene are of course mocking and glad it was cut.

      “Among movie buffs it seems that The Terminator is held in much higher regards.”

      T2 came out when I was a kid. I thought the movie critics who said T1 was better were being the usual poseurs/snobs. Back then most of us had never seen anything like the early CGI used in T2. Now of course it’s not enough to carry the movie.

    6. I forgot, you should also check out the original ending to T2. It shows an aged Sarah Connor saying that on August 29, 1997, there was no Judgement Day, instead, “Michael Jackson turned 40.” She adds that John now fights not on the battlefield but in the U.S. Senate, where his weapons are “common sense” and “hope”. What a howl that must have raised among test audiences even back in 1991. The only upside to this ending is it might have prevented the four increasingly awful sequels.

    7. This ending is included in the Blu-ray release as default, it seems. It seems that Cameron wanted to conclude the Terminator story twice and he just did not get his will. The sequels were unbelievably bad, but even Terminator 2 is quite shoddy as it has a structure very similar to the first one, and is full of fluff, perhaps to not draw too much attention to the fact that it is just another serving of the old story, with a CGI coat. Clearly, the terminator is stuck in a time loop and always has to travel back to the present. Thus, the future becomes a joke. We started with, “no fate but what we make” and ended up with Skynet just sending one killing machine after another. Thus, it seems that no matter Sarah Connor does, fate does not change as there is always another terminator waiting for her. Somehow, I think that the hacks who produced the sequels did not not properly think this through.

    8. Thinking more about the original ending of T2: It surely is anti-climactic to learn that John Connor ends up joining one of the most corrupt institutions on the planet but on the other hand, it would have nicely concluded the story by showing that the future is not set in stone. This is also a hopeful message, which would have fit the tone of T2 quite well. Audience reactions may have been better if John Connor had not become a congressman, but it it also would not have gone down well with test audiences if he had been employee #17,854 in BigCorp.

    9. I don’t know if it was Cameron’s intention or not, but in yet another deleted scene in T1, an employee of the machine shop finds the CPU from the crushed Terminator and is ordered to “get it down to the lab first thing Monday morning.” So there is an unstated paradox and irony in that Sarah gives birth to both Skynet and John Connor.

    10. I would not recommend thinking too deeply about the fundamental plausibility of these movies. It is also quite puzzling that Skynet is able to somehow come up with better and better killing machines as this franchise progresses. Despite the setbacks it faces during those time-travelling adventures, it has all those hidden resouces. In contrast, the resistance, led by John Connor can only ever send back the aging Schwarzenegger model.

  2. The US clearly went downhill in the 90s.
    It’s not only the movies but also music (rock became less mainstream and more freaky; while rap became mainstream), sports (idolization of players such as Michael Jordan), culture (rappers and everything surrounded with that became cool; slacking off and smoking weed became cool too) and politics (the bombing of Serbia; and overall the US started their invade the world, invite the world doctrine). Unfortunately the bad 90s has been lasting for 30years now with no improvement in sight

    1. That was when political correctness and r–e hysteria really got rolling as well, though naturally the Epsteins and Weinsteins carried on without a care and it was only the little people who had to sit through the lectures and struggle sessions.

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