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November 16, 2004

The oracle that is "Demolition Man"

A group calling itself Amend For Arnold is lobbying and advertising to amend the Constitution to allow Arnold Schwarzenegger (and, ostensibly, any other naturalized American citizen) to run for president. Article 2 of the Constitution prohibits anyone born outside the United States from holding that office.

First of all, on the face of it, I don’t see why anyone who has been a citizen of 20 years or more in the U.S. should be barred from running for president. I think I’d prefer almost any foreigner to another Texan, for instance (unless maybe its Ann Richards).

What excites me is that this movement was predicted in the 1993 action film “Demolition Man,” starring Sylvester Stallone.

In the movie, which takes place in the mid 21st century, Stallone plays John Spartan, a cop brought out of suspended animation to bring down violent super criminal Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes). At one point in the movie, Stallone gets a shocking lesson on the history he has missed since he was frozen in 1996, by fellow cop Lt. Lenina Huxley (Sandra Bullock):

Huxley: I’ve been an enthusiast of your escapades for quite some time now. I have, in fact, perused some newsreels from the Schwarzenegger Library, and that time you took that car...

Spartan: —Hold it. The Schwarzenegger Library?
Huxley: Yes. Schwarzenegger Presidential Library. wasn’t he an actor when you...

Spartan: —Stop. He was president?

Huxley: Yes. Even though he was not born in this country, his popularity at the time cased the 61st amendment, in which they said...
Spartan: —I don’t wanna know.

I remember at the time thinking what brilliant little prediction it was. After all, I grew up in the Reagan era, and Reagan of course was a movie star, then president of the Screen Actors Guild, then California governor, and finally president.

I was reminded of the “Demolition Man” reference to Schwarzenegger presidency a little over a year ago, when Arnold was running for governor in the California recall race. I was also struck by the memory of my best friend’s mom and I joking in 1985 — the year “Rambo” came out — that Sylvester Stallone was himself preparing for a future presidential candidacy by working the anti-communist sentiment and right-wing machine-gun machismo so prevalent at the time.

Not so coincidentally, during the summer of 2003, while Arnold’s backdoor bid for the governorship was gearing up, cable TV seemed to be playing a lot of Arnold movies. I even remember seeing them start to appear before Arnold had even announced he would run (someone knew something, or could just feel it in the air perhaps). When “Demolition Man” came on, I taped it so I could fish out the above quote.

But there was a problem. They edited the quote out of the movie.

Now, I’m sure plenty of other stuff was “edited for content,” since channels often cut non-plot-essential elements of movies to make them fit a two-hour time slot.

Still, I started to have a mild concern that the scene would be permanently wiped from future copies of the movie. So, a few months ago, I made the first (and, as yet, only) acquisition for my DVD library.

I have been waiting for the state of the world to catch up with the dystopic sci-fi films of the 80s and early 90s. You know, the ones where corporations run everything, the economic divide between the haves and have-nots is every increasing, petroleum is running low, and the world is subsequently plagued by continuous terrorism and warfare?

Yep. Well, finally, one fun bit of trivia from “Demolition Man.” Future Minnesota governor Jessie Ventura played a generic evil thug guy in it. He, and future California Governor Schwarzenegger also shared the screen together in 1987. Twice, in fact, in “Predator,” and “The Running Man.”

Posted by MJuhre at November 16, 2004 02:06 PM

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