American Terminator: Myths, Movies and Global Power
A hard-hitting sequel and companion piece to the international bestsellerWhy Do People Hate America?
The book begins its examination of the state of American society with the California Gubernatorial Election of 2003. The victory of Hollywood superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger in that election is more than the triumph of a populist candidate—it is a telling indicator of how an uninformed people has been misled by a political illusion. This is fantasy politics, and it is set to unfold across the US in the future. It is, therefore, a vital concern for people everywhere.
How American democracy is understood and enacted in the United States is an essential guide to how its nation-building efforts abroad operate. The authors argue that the failures of American democracy at home—its increasing reliance on fantasy versions of reality—are blueprints for its failures overseas. What America cannot resolve at home, as much as how it constructs and operates its foreign policy, makes the world a more unstable and dangerous place for everyone.
The authors diagnose these failures as “Schwar-zenegger’s Laws.” These laws allow us to understand how Hollywood’s global superstar was elected to office, not as a reaction against political failure but as the pure expression of an enduring and disturbing thread of fantasy within American politics, culture and society. As a political candidate, Schwarzenegger did not need to create a conventional political platform—he had only to present himself, for he was already an oven-ready candidate, an established persona with a set of values defined by his films which provided him with a definable policy stance in the public imagination. With America now the lone hyperpower, “Schwarzenegger’s Laws” affect every citizen of every country.
Ziauddin SardarandMerryl Wyn Daviesare prominent writers, journalists and critics. Both live in the United Kingdom.