Family values, down the toilet

Republican women rationalize that Arnold Schwarzenegger "supports family." Mark that endorsement the death knell of GOP claims to represent traditional family values.

Topics: Republican Party, Arnold Schwarzenegger,

Last week, the Republican Women’s Caucus in California endorsed a gubernatorial candidate who as recently as July had gloried in the prospect of shoving a woman’s head into a filthy toilet bowl. The GOP women rationalize that Arnold Schwarzenegger “supports family.” Mark that endorsement the death knell of Republican claims to represent traditional family values.

Schwarzenegger’s remarks in an interview with Entertainment Weekly cannot be easily discarded as an excess of youth, the commercial need to promote a macho view of bodybuilding, or any of the other flip rationalizations Schwarzenegger has offered for his frequent and persistent expressions of misogyny.

No, the statement in question was made by a 55-year-old man who was openly contemplating a gubernatorial campaign. It was not made 26 years ago, when the Oui magazine article mentioning group sex came out, but only two months ago, in July. What it suggests is that the violence and stupidity of his cinema roles may reflect the thinking of the actor.

In all fairness, the statements made on the set of “Terminator 3″ to Entertainment Weekly should be evaluated in their entirety, within the context of the article, which reads as follows:

“But nothing in T3 bears Schwarzenegger’s creative stamp more than his epic tussle with the Terminatrix, a battle that begins in a bathroom. The sequence was made longer and more elaborate thanks to the actor’s largess — and his singular imagination.

“‘As we were rehearsing, I saw this toilet bowl,’ says Schwarzenegger, an impish smile crossing his face. ‘How many times do you get away with this — to take a woman, grab her upside down, and bury her face in a toilet bowl? I wanted to have something floating in there,’ he adds. Apparently, he was vetoed. ‘They thought it was my typical Schwarzenegger overboard,’ he says. ‘The thing is, you can do it, because in the end, I didn’t do it to a woman — she’s a machine! We could get away with it without being crucified by who-knows-what group.’ (Note to California’s Democratic strategists: The soccer-mom set is now yours for the taking!)”

Perhaps the magazine’s reporter was right about the soccer-mom vote, but why wouldn’t men also find this blatant expression of hostility toward women deeply offensive?

The issue here is not puritanism, and I am on record as having defended Schwarzenegger in 2001 in this column when Gray Davis’ consultant, Garry South, made too much of a largely unsubstantiated and irrelevant Premiere magazine article concerning the actor’s alleged sexist and crude behavior on movie sets.

You Might Also Like

But the head-in-the-toilet-bowl remarks are in a very different category and raise issues that a political candidate should be expected to answer.

Most important of those is whether Schwarzenegger makes any connection between the incessant depiction of extreme violence in his films and the astonishing violence of our society. If he pushes an “evil” woman’s head in the toilet and laughs, does he bear any responsibility if some guy goes home and does it to his girlfriend the next time he gets angry?

I don’t believe that there is a simple answer to these questions. Yet, from Bob Dole’s run for president to John Ashcroft’s just-launched campaign against violent pornography, such arguments have been a staple of the Republicans’ rise to power under the self-righteous “family values” banner.

When Schwarzenegger mocks the “who-knows-what groups” that might have raised objections to his proposed sicko movie scene, he is certainly not just speaking of feminists, since the Christian right would presumably raise strenuous objections to such a scene.

More specifically, does Schwarzenegger, as it appears from this interview, delight in the extreme violence he peddles? And, regardless, why was none of this of interest to Oprah Winfrey, Jay Leno, Larry King or the right-wing talk show hosts whose programs have accounted for the majority of the actor’s obsessively controlled media availability? As governor, Schwarzenegger would be appointing judges whose sensitivities to the civil rights of all groups, including women, is of decisive importance; isn’t this relevant to that process?

In previous elections, the barest hint of a candidate’s hostility toward a group of people could destroy a candidate. But Schwarzenegger has been given a free ride by the media and the GOP on this question and others arising from his long history as a celebrity. How hypocritical that a man whom the media anointed as the leading candidate from his announcement on “The Tonight Show” solely because of his celebrity should now get away with claiming that anything he said or did as a celebrity is irrelevant to his candidacy.

Robert Scheer is a syndicated columnist.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 8
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Sonic

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Sonic's Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog

    Sonic calls this a "gourmet twist" on a classic. I am not so, so fancy, but I know that sprinkling bacon and cheddar cheese onto a tube of pork is not gourmet, even if you have made a bun out of something that is theoretically French.

    Krispy Kreme

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Krispy Kreme's Doughnut Dog

    This stupid thing is a hotdog in a glazed doughnut bun, topped with bacon and raspberry jelly. It is only available at Delaware's Frawley Stadium, thank god.

    KFC

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    KFC's Double Down Dog

    This creation is notable for its fried chicken bun and ability to hastily kill your dreams.

    Pizza Hut

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites Pizza

    Pizza Hut basically just glued pigs-in-blankets to the crust of its normal pizza. This actually sounds good, and I blame America for brainwashing me into feeling that.

    Carl's Jr.

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Carl's Jr. Most American Thick Burger

    This is a burger stuffed with potato chips and hot dogs. Choose a meat, America! How hard is it to just choose a meat?!

    Tokyo Dog

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Tokyo Dog's Juuni Ban

    A food truck in Seattle called Tokyo Dog created this thing, which is notable for its distinction as the Guinness Book of World Records' most expensive hot dog at $169. It is a smoked cheese bratwurst, covered in butter Teriyaki grilled onions, Maitake mushrooms, Wagyu beef, foie gras, black truffles, caviar and Japanese mayo in a brioche bun. Just calm down, Tokyo Dog. Calm down.

    Interscope

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Limp Bizkit's "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water"

    This album art should be illegal.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>