Why Arnold Schwarzenneger's moving pro-democracy video works so brilliantly

Leave it to an immigrant to craft the message that all Americans need to hear right now

Published On
Jan 11, 2021

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Arnold Schwarzenegger, who released a short video titled “Governor Schwarzenegger’s Message Following This Week’s Attack on the Capitol” (below) on Sunday, is, of course, a retired politician; he served as the 38th governor of California (2003-2011). Along the way, as everyone also knows, he was Mr. Olympia and Mr. Universe (in his bodybuilding days) and the Terminator and Conan the Barbarian and even an undercover detective (in the 1990 action-comedy “Kindergarten Cop”).

That sui generis résumé gives him a leg up in presenting a message like this—it’s a no-brainer that everyone wants to hear what Arnold has to say about what just went down in D.C.—but it’s his personal history and his quietly emotional delivery that make the video so effective.

Schwarzenegger was born in Allied-occupied Austria in 1947; he compares the attack on the U.S. Capitol to the Kristallnacht in Nazi Germany. In many ways, he’s the embodiment of not only the American dream but the fruit of a collective championing of democratic principles and the never-ending fight against tyranny.

Schwarzenegger tells it like it is, and being a Hollywood superstar, he does it with flair. The video features multiple camera angles, a soundtrack worthy of a Michael Bay movie, and even a surreal bit of suspense, because Arnold’s got his hands resting on a sword on his desk for much of the speech. It turns out to be the sword from “Conan the Barbarian” and he’s got a very good reason for referencing it.

Ultimately, though, even without the music and the movie prop, the video works because Schwarzenegger’s message is deeply heartfelt and profound—and entirely essential for this moment in American history.

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Jan 11, 2021

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