The World According to Arnie – Pumping Iron (1977)
This is not going to be a lengthy review for a few reasons. Primarily because, prior to watching it again, I thought Pumping Iron had much more to it than lots and lots of shots of muscle bound blokes flexing their guns and a future superstar acting like a douchebag. But as it doesn’t, I will keep it fairly brief.
Pumping Iron is a documentary that covers the 1975 Mr Universe and Mr Olympia competitions, and the attempt of “the one and only” Arnold Schwarzenegger to win the Mr Olympia competition for an unprecedented sixth time in a row. The doc focuses mainly on Arnie, but also looks at his main rivals, particularly Lou Ferrigno, as well as looking at the contenders for Mr Universe.
The main thing that comes across when watching this doc is that in real life Arnie was a jerk. He’s like a high school jock, who’s popular because he’s the star athlete. Nearly everything he says is shit, and nearly all of it is totally uninteresting. He’s a wanker to people, particularly his rivals, but they play along, laugh when it’s necessary to laugh, and basically placate him because they’re in awe of him. In many respects being in awe of him is fair enough, because winning anything five times in a row is no mean feat. There is certainly much to admire, and if it weren’t for the fact that his dominant personality is so vapid and self-involved, he would have me in awe too. But Arnie’s lucky there is no personality element to judging Mr Olympia, because if there is he might be in trouble. I say ‘might’ because from this doc, there isn’t much else going on upstairs with any of the other contestants either. It may be blatantly obvious to everyone, but bodybuilding doesn’t exactly require smarts.
Now I’m aware of the manipulative abilities of documentaries, but in this case it seems as though the makers, Robert Fiore and George Butler, are as much in awe of Arnie as anyone else. There’s a particularly uncomfortable scene where Arnie describes what working out feels like and he equates it to having an orgasm. But he doesn’t leave it there, and describes how he’s “in heaven” because he gets to cum all day and then go home and cum all night. It’s really off-putting and creepy.
Although the documentary is about body building, we don’t really get an idea of what it’s all about. There is information sprinkled throughout, so we get a vague idea of what it’s about, such as how it’s judged, the categories and the difference between Mr Universe (amateur) and Mr Olympia (professional). But there is far too much time dedicated to showing people simply working out, footage without purpose, or showing Arnie sleazing on to women, or just lounging on the beach. Information is sparse, and we never get an idea of how much time is spent in the gym, what their diet consists of, or how these contestants make their money (or how much they make). Information I would like to know when watching a documentary about the little known (especially in 1975) “sport” of bodybuilding. Essentially it comes down to a fanboy celebration of Arnie, one that boils down to him doing a little training, but mostly showing him lounging about enjoying his celebrity and being a bit of a jerk to people.
I was really surprised by my reaction to Pumping Iron, because I remember this as being a highly enjoyable documentary and don’t recall thinking that Arnie was a jerk when I first watched it. The 70’s continues to be a dire period in Arnie’s career.
Next up, the unseen Cactus Jack. I don’t think this one will change the trend.
For further evidence of Arnie being a douchebag…
Carnival in Rio (1983)
According to IMDB this goes for 53 minutes, but I’ve only seen this five minute excerpt on Youtube and that was more than enough. This is basically that off-putting orgasm story described above ramped up to 11. Apparently this was intended as a travelogue style video, but all this shows is Arnie making Brazilian women uncomfortable with his sleazy personality. I still can’t believe someone thought it was a good idea to show him making a young woman suck on a carrot, or show him grabbing dancing girls asses. It really is mind boggling, and yet further evidence that Arnie was a pretty dodgy cunt.