The Moviehunter

Pulp Culture
Terminator for governor
means no new 'Conan'

August 21, 2003
By Franklin Harris

In case you haven't heard, Arnold Schwarzenegger is running for governor of California. This is great news for headline writers, who get to see which of them can come up with the best word play on one of Arnold's movie titles or catch phrases. Will it be something involving "Total Recall"? Or how about "The Running Man"? And you'll know Arnold is in trouble if anyone writes a headline using "True Lies."

For his part, Arnold can go on quoting "Terminator" lines like "I'll be back" and "Hasta la vista, baby!" But he'd best not use dialog from "Conan the Barbarian" to describe what he plans to do to his opponents in the recall election: "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women!"

But Arnold's gubernatorial bid is bad news for his fans, who, ironically, are the folks whose support he most needs if he is to win. Already the Sci-Fi Channel has postponed airing three of Arnold's films until after the Oct. 7 vote. Other cable and broadcast channels are doing the same. Sci-Fi programmers, however, haven't lost their sense of humor. Instead of Arnold's movies, they plan to show three California-based disaster films: "Volcano: Fire on the Mountain," "Inferno" and "Ice." Maybe for good measure they should throw in "Superman: The Movie," in which Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) plots to sink the California coast.

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger
If Arnold wins, it'll be at least three years, barring yet another recall, before he can go back to work in Hollywood. But given his recent output, that might not be a bad thing. It's not as if we need more films like "Eraser," "End of Days" and "Collateral Damage" — to say nothing of films like "Junior." Face it, Schwarzenegger fans, we're a long way from Arnold's glory days. What has he done for us lately?

Still, there is one Schwarzenegger project I'd like to see get the green light. John Milius, who directed Arnold's breakout film, "Conan the Barbarian," has labored for years on a sequel, "King Conan: Crown of Iron." And more than 20 years after first playing Robert E. Howard's sword-wielding hero, Arnold finally is mature enough to portray Conan at the height of his power, as "a king by his own hand." Besides, Arnold owes Conan fans restitution for the dreadful 1984 sequel, "Conan the Destroyer."

Right now, there are whispers that "King Conan" might finally hit screens in 2005. But there is no chance of that if Arnold is instead facing off with the California legislature.

In all his films, Arnold never met a foe as frightening as California's electorate or faced a challenge as daunting as the Golden State's budget. He talked for years about entering politics, dropping hints accompanied by knowing grins. But until now, Arnold's most prominent foray into politics was campaigning for Proposition 49, a ballot measure that calls for spending $400 million per year on children's after-school programs.

When I was a child, after-school programs meant Bugs Bunny cartoons, so I'm not sure why it's so vital to spend millions of dollars to keep children occupied when television and homework already do the job quite well. Here is a program for the youth of California: When school is out, go home!

Nevertheless, with Arnold's help, Proposition 49 passed, making the state's already out-of-control budget even more out of control. It seems to me that Arnold isn't the solution to California's fiscal woes. He's part of the problem.

Still, I don't live in California, so it's not my call. If Minnesotans can elect Jesse Ventura, Arnold's co-star in "Predator" and "The Running Man," certainly Californians can elect Arnold. Perhaps they can solve that budget problem by selling "My governor can beat up your governor" T-shirts.

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