I Confess: Kate Pullinger's love of Arnold Schwarzenegger

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The Independent Culture
'MOST of the serious-minded Americans I know feel under threat from the deluge of trash that is American popular culture. As a Canadian who has adopted this country, I have a different take on this. I mean, I even love Las Vegas. I think I'd live there if I could.

'I used to like Art movies, but I've given up on them. They usually bore me. But I love Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. Why? Well, for a start, there's never any danger that, unlike Art movies, I won't understand them.

'Terminator and Terminator 2 are the ultimate in escapism and pleasure and, quite frankly, two of the best movies ever made. They can be read on a number of levels and can be seen as politically quite complex. More to the point, Terminator 2 has women with muscles and guns too.

'It's him, though, that I really like, not the movies. Not that I fancy him. Actually, he's quite . . . repellent. And a Republican. He also has this reputation for being an animal. Yet on screen he is the perfect American immigrant writ large, complete with ridiculous Austrian accent. From an unfashionable background in body-building, he has gone via totally naff films like Conan the Barbarian to starring in Hollywood's state-of-the-art action pictures.

'I'm not interested in any of the other clones. Forget Jean-Claude van Damme. Arnie was the original and there's only room for one. I loathe Sylvester Stallone. He's so desperate to be taken seriously. Part of Arnie's charm is that he is willing to appear stupid. There's a wonderful self-deprecating wit about him which is an intrinsic part of his screen persona.

'In the comedies, like Twins or Kindergarten Cop, he's hilarious. You can't believe in him as a person. He is never anything but Arnold Schwarzenegger. How could he be? I've noticed that he never has sex with anyone on screen. Mind you, the audience probably couldn't take it, let alone his female leads. He'd destroy them.

'We were given the Terminator movies box set as a wedding present. My husband likes the movies because they're violent. But then, so do I. The violence is simply never real. It's extreme and it's in a movie. That's as far away from real life as you can get.

'Unfortunately, there is now an anti-violence Hollywood trend which will create problems for action-Arnie. It's what he's built for. The Last Action Hero tried to mix genres and failed. It was all too self-conscious. He seemed to have lost his way. Mind you, whatever he does, I'll go and see it.'

The novelist Kate Pullinger ('Tiny Lies', 'Where Does Kissing End?') was in the confessional with David Benedict

(Photograph omitted)