An American Dream

Louise Krasniewicz, an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, spoke to CNN’s Only On the Blog about Arnold schwarzenegger:

Arnold’s importance has never been about his acting or his bodybuilding or his great wealth and power.Arnold was, and probably still is, important because he has been one of the few concrete examples we have of the American Dream being a real possibility. Arnold’s was the perfect story of a poor, uncouth, underclass, and uneducated immigrant making it big in America by understanding that the American Dream means you are not stuck with the story you are born with but that you can make and remake yourself.

What he may not have learned was that along the way you will be tempted severely to stray from the good path, to write your story in a way that is arrogant or based in hubris and deceit.

You can’t do that and still be a good American icon. The rules still have to apply to you at some point.

…Why would people go to an Arnold movie today? To see him fail in his comeback, to stare in awe at how he has changed, to shake their heads in disbelief?

We don’t go to movies just because we like the actors or think something will merely entertain us. We go to the movies because they are part of our cultural conversation. They are one tool we use to help us make sense of a stupid, chaotic, and meaningless world.

I think, then, people could make great use of any Arnold movie as they talk about the ideas and issues his behavior has brought to the foreground. I don’t think personal reputation has ever been his concern.

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