For an actor whose most famous character delivered the line, “I cannot self-terminate”, (Terminator 2: Judgment Day) he sure knows how to self-isolate.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has been posting videos, messages and pictures on his Twitter and Instagram feeds over the past couple of weeks, which have been racking up millions of views, and here’s why.
It sounds like something even the mind of Salvador Dalí might have had trouble conjuring up, but on the 30th March, the internet was treated to a photograph of Schwarzenegger wearing a bomber jacket, smoking a cigar and playing a game of chess with his pet miniature donkey, Lulu.
You’ll have to see it to believe it.
Over the past couple of weeks, The Terminator star has been delighting fans with his quirky social media updates.
Many celebrities have been sharing videos of themselves demonstrating correct hand-washing techniques and other tidbits of quarantine advice.
What makes Schwarzenegger’s so much more appealing, however, is that he isn’t being patronising by telling us how and what to do, rather he is telling his pony-tailed Yorkshire terrier: “Look at this Cherry, this is how you wash your hands”. He only briefly addresses the camera, claiming he is washing his hands 50 times a day (and from someone who’s used to 50 pull-ups a day, he’s probably being serious!).
Cherry is the one being taught, and we’re lucky enough to be privy to the lesson.
There’s something mesmerizing about watching a 6’2” former body-builder, seven-time Mr. Olympia winner and action movie star giving one-one-one hygiene tuition to a very small dog.
While Schwarzenegger’s movie tough-guy persona makes seeing him feed his miniature horse, Lulu, salad from his dinner plate an entertaining watch, his political background gives his advice credibility.
In a recent interview with The Atlantic, Schwarzenegger talks about the crisis from the perspective of someone who has been at the forefront of high-pressure, political decision-making.
“It’s having the guts to go out and just order things to be done right now, rather than waiting for another press conference […] There is no more waiting.”
The former Governor of California also talked about the Cedar Fire, one of the worst wildfires in US history which happened during his transition into governorship, and the similarities it bore to the current crisis.
“There’s no difference in the information when I got in there as Governor […] it was clear we were short of resources”.
After seeing the fires first-hand, he set up a “Blue Ribbon Commission”, and independent expert panel, to look into the problem, believing that one “should be ahead of the problem, not behind it”.
Arnold’s social media messages are clear in the message that we should listen to experts, not “morons”.
The problem with this mindset, of being prepared for a disaster, Schwarzenegger claims, is that you will be labelled as an alarmist, but justifying this with the opinion that it is “better to be accused of being an alarmist rather than being accused of not being prepared.”, a viewpoint he argues was vindicated in his decision to address the condition of California’s levees, particularly their susceptibility to earthquakes.
He claims the question of the levees was brushed aside until after Hurricane Katrina, where the threat of natural disaster became all too apparent.
Practising what he preaches
Many of us grew up watching Arnie on screen, kicking down doors, blowing things up and dispatching bad guys. So, it’s easy to forget that he’s 72 and has a heart condition, (for which he had surgery twice, in 1997 and most recently in 2018).
This puts him in the high-risk category for the coronavirus, so by showing others how committed he is to staying at home, and the shenanigans he gets up to, hopefully others will be more compelled to follow suit.
“I know it’s not easy being home, but we all have to get along. Be like Lulu, not Cherry. Use this time to spread kindness, check in on your family and friends, and of course, no biting.” (Schwarzenegger on Instagram).
For someone who’s built a career on reading scripts, it’s the impromptu element of Arnie’s delivery that may have played a part in racking up the likes and the views: seeing him at his dinner table, in his garden and in his kitchen with his menagerie of pets.
“People enjoy that it’s unscripted when I do those messages. It’s not reading off a teleprompter or anything. I don’t do the political kind of stuff. I just say what my concerns are,”.
Of course, sitting in a jacuzzi smoking a cigar with a Sheriff’s hat (a nod to The Last Stand, perhaps?) reminds us that he is a Hollywood star!
What makes these messages refreshing is that while it’s pretty strange to see Arnie feeding his two equine pals carrots while he dons a Terminator T-shirt, there is always a positive spin, which is often lacking in the mainstream media where there’s often a lot more doom and gloom.
In his chess game with Lulu, he reflects: “If you’ve been putting off something like learning chess with your family, use the time you’d normally be out and about”, or by being proactive using the time to help others, in any way you can.
“I never believed in sitting on the couch and complaining about how bad things are, I always believed we should all do our part to make things better.” He backed this up by donating $1m to the Frontline Responders Fund, and brokered a $3m deal with TikTok who have agreed to donate this sum to an after-school charity Schwarzenegger supports, After-school All-stars, now that these programmes have been forced to close.
He has also made a no-gym home workout freely available to get people active in a time of quarantine.
We’re looking forward to whatever The Terminator star has to offer next, we’re keeping an eye on his social media channels because in a time of uncertainty, one thing’s for sure: he’ll be back.