Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Reign of the Übermensch

(This article originally posted in Oct. 2015.)

Muscle-men and monsters seem to have always existed. The Greeks invented the Olympics, so that naked men, skin glistening with precious cosmetic oils, could compete against one other to the thrill of cheering throngs. Roman sculptors preserved for eternity an ideal of male muscularity matching its might against mythological malevolence. 

Tragically, many of Rome's great artistic triumphs were destroyed, along with much of the ancient city, by the rampaging hordes of Germanic barbarians who ransacked the city from  376 AD onward.
Within the last hundred or so years, however, the muscle-men and monstrosities have moved from the realm of abstract and mythological into living, breathing reality...or at least an approximation thereof. 

For your edification, The Flapdoodle Files has painstakingly put together a chronology of this fetish.

Milestones in Muscularity: A Timeline of He-men, Hulks, Huns, Hollywood, and Hypertrophism

Eugene Sandow, born Friedrich Wilhelm Müller in Prussia, Germany, coins the term Body Building. Sandow is the star attraction of pioneer American showman Florenz Ziegfeld, who later achieves legendary status through the famous Ziegfeld Follies. In 1894, Sandow had been the subject of a pioneering motion picture by Thomas Edison.

Tarzan is published for the first time. One of the earliest superheroes, he is the child of pale, aristocratic Europeans, transformed into super-perfect physical condition by the rigors of the jungle and by the apes who adopted him as a baby. His creator, Edgar Rice Burroughs, originally portrays Tarzan as being naked, and copious descriptions of physique and prowess are included. Burroughs' Ape Man is instantly popular, and soon grows into one of the earliest and most successful multi-media franchise heroes, with the first cinematic adaptation of the character premiering in 1918. Another highlight occurred in the 1920 novel, Tarzan the Untamed, set in WWI, with the Lord of the Jungle going on a berserker rampage over atrocities committed by the Germans. It isn't good to make Tarzan angry, you wouldn't like him when he is angry. 

Hal Foster's comic strip adaption of Tarzan premieres in newspapers, simultaneously expanding the Tarzan franchise and for all practical purposes creating the adventure comic strip industry. Wildly popular in it's day, and influential beyond reckoning, it introduces the fetish of the physique as one of the major themes in comic strips. Tarzan is the grandfather of every muscle-bound comic strip hero.

Universal Studios releases Frankenstein, featuring English thespian Boris Karloff made up as a muscular, hulking, semi-human German monster, filmed in a style deliberately copied from German expressionist films of the 1920's. Although Karloff was in fact skinny and somewhat frail, he succesfully created the illusion of bulk and strength. The film is a true blockbuster, spawning multiple sequels, including the 1936 Bride of Frankenstein, which featured the Monster speaking in Broken English. The monster is not truly evil, but it isn't good to make him angry.

Tarzan the Ape Man premieres at movie-houses across North America, featuring legendary Olympic swimming champion Johnny Weissmuller. Born an ethnic German in Freidorf, Austria-Hungary, Weissmuller brings superb athletic abilities and physique to the role. His natural charisma, along with lurid violence, racism, and a high degree of sexiness, make the film an immediate smash hit. There had, of course, been previous movie Tarzans, but the young Weissmuller's presence is so dazzlingly electric that it relegates his predecessors to the deepest depths of obscurity.

Tarzan's lines, as written for Weissmuller, were spoken in Broken English. In the 1943 film Tarzan Triumphs, Weissmuller utters the immortal line: 'Now...Tarzan make war!'  while fighting the infamous Afrika Korps of the Nazi Third Reich. Here in the futuristic 21st Century, the armies of George Bush and Barack Obama roam Tarzan's domain under the nomenclature AFRICOM.

Weissmuller played the Lord of the Jungle for a total of 12 films, until the late 1940's, after which middle age and dietary habits caused the studio to re-cast the part. After his departure from Tarzan, he made 13 Jungle Jim films, then 3 additional jungle movies playing a character named 'Johnny Weissmuller,' leaving behind a oeuvre unmatched even to this day. He is the Jimmy Stewart of Jungle Movies

Teenage cartoonists Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster appropriate Friedrich Nietzsche's term Superman (loosely translated from the German 'Übermensch'), applying it first to a villain in a scifi short story, but soon creating a new muscle-man comic strip hero based loosely on Phillip Wylie's Gladiator

Revising the character periodically, they would search for a publisher until 1938, when the tightfisted DC comics finally took a gamble on the Man of Steel.  

Alex Raymond's newspaper comic strip Flash Gordon appears. Like Foster's Tarzan, Flash is wildly popular and features abundant display of idealized muscular men, often scantily clad, along with the exotic props, costumes, and locations of Space Opera. The influence of Flash is impossible to overstate, being the major inspiration for the exotic costumes and futuristic weapons that would eventually dominate comic books, which would soon appear, going on to achieve their highest sales during WWII. 

Another Olympic swimming champion, Buster Crabbe, stars in the Universal Studios serial Flash Gordon.  The serial is a bona-fide sensation, featuring plenty of scantily clad action by Crabbe, so as to display his impressive physique, and also a high degree of sexiness with ingenue Jean Rodgers (as Dale Arden) and vamp Priscilla Lawson as the dominatrix Princess Aura. His brown tresses bleached blond for the role, Crabbe was soon dubbed by critics 'The American Ziegfried.' He would reprise his role in two additional Flash Gordon serials (1938 & 1940), and would, for good measure, play Buck Rodgers in a 1939 serial, making him the first celluiod scifi superstar. The Flash Gordon serials featured Germanic background music appropriated from composers Franz Waxman and Franz Lizst.

After being commissioned by the 1936 Olympic Committee to create a feature film of the Berlin Olympics, Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl (creator of the infamous Triumph of the Will) shoots a documentary combining the poetry of bodies in motion with close-ups of athletes in the heat of competition. Olympia Part Two: Festival of Beauty glorifies the Nazi ideal of physical perfection.

Also in 1938: 
Austrian Gustav Schwarzenegger is sufficiently committed to the Nazi cause that he voluntarily joins the Nazi Party on March 1, two weeks before the country is annexed by the Third Reich. Nine years later, the elder Schwarzenegger's loins would bear fruit, begetting a son, who would be named Arnold

Body-builder Charles Atlas (born Angelo Siciliano) begins selling his 'Dynamic Tension' muscle-building course via ads in comic books, which promised a super-hero body to any boy with the willpower and determination to follow his regime.  

Jack Kirby and Joe Simon create Captain America, a comic book superhero, who thanks to the chemical wizardry of the US government, grows from a 98 lb. weakling into a Charles Atlas-type muscle man in mere seconds. Initially published almost a year before Pearl Harbor, his first issue featured a cover illustration of the Star-Spangled Avenger slugging Adolf Hitler.                                                            

Initially published almost a year before Pearl Harbor, his first issue featured a cover illustration of the Star-Spangled Avenger slugging Adolf Hitler. The hypertrophic hero is perfectly-suited for purposes of war-time propaganda. No one seems to notice that the hero's blond hair and blue eyes suggest an Aryan quality to his physical perfection. Meanwhile Jack Kirby, the premiere artist, was only able to complete 10 issues before being sent to the ETO to fight the real Germans. Twenty years later, Kirby would co-create The Incredible Hulk.

Massively powerful Teutonic pro-wrestler Tor Johnson plays the bit part of 'Mug' in the horror-comedy Ghost Catchers. A tiny part in an obscure film featuring a mostly forgotten comedy team, the moment is significant because it is the beginning of Tor Johnson's lengthy association with Cinema Fantastique. Tor's voice is deep, thick, and slow, like a recording played back at the wrong speed, foreshadowing several hypertrophic stars yet to come.

In post-war Austria, Arnold  Schwarzenegger is born. 

The Bronze-Age Hebrew fairy tale Samson and Delilah is released to US cinemas, featuring the buff actor, Victor Mature, as Biblical Beefcake. Like Frankenstein before him, it isn't good to make Samson angry.

James George Janos is born to German-American parents in Minnesota. He would later achieve fame as a pro-wrestler, using the name Jesse the Body Ventura

Body builder Gordon Scott is cast as the legendary Ape Man for Tarzan's Hidden Jungle.  Scott displays a body that cannot be achieved by mere athleticism...a body that is not suitable to traditional sports involving speed and endurance. Rather, it is a body built by fanatical weight training to truly grotesque proportions, and thus a milestone for the muscle fetish. Scott played the Lord of the Jungle for a total of 6 films: one of them, Tarzan's Greatest Adventure (1959) is considered by many to be the best of the franchise. Tarzan's Greatest Adventure is also notable for the fact that the Ape Man finally abandons the Broken English trope. Successive Tarzans such as Clint Walker, Jock Mahony, and Ron Ely were freed from this constricting linguistic device, although comedians were not.

Also in 1955:
Tor Johnson plays Lobo in the seminal horror opus, Bride of the Monster. Considered to be 'the most lavishly mounted work in the portfolio of cult favorite director Edward D. Wood Jr.," Johson's Lobo is described by TCM as a 'hulking mute manservant' for the film's requisite mad scientist, played by the legendary Bela Lugosi. Without spoiling the plot too much, it can safely be said that Lugosi learns that regarding Lobo, you wouldn't like him when he's angry. 

American body builder Steve Reeves is cast as the mythological hero in the Italian film Hercules, which was so successful that it spawned a sequel and a succession of other popular 'sword and sandal' movies. Most of these films were exported to the USA and other nations, so that for a brief moment, Reeves was the most popular film actor in the world. In the 1975 film Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dr. Frankenfurter speaks longingly of watching an old Steve Reeves movie.

Plan 9 From Outer Space, is released. Tor Johnson plays a massively-muscled detective, garbling his lines as if to foreshadow Schwarzenegger. Not long into the film, Johnson is transformed into a massively-muscled zombie, with no lines to garble. Often cited in critics' lists of the worst films ever, its unintentional hilarity and quixotic sincerity make it more enjoyable than many films costing a hundred times more to produce.

Johnson stars in The Beast of Yucca Flats, the story of a good scientist caught in the radius of an atomic test, transformed into a powerful monster. It likely is one of the inspirations for the classic origin story of The Incredible Hulk. Sadly, it is Tor's last horror/scifi outing. His final cinematic appearance would be in the execrable Monkee's vehicle Head (1968).

Also in 1961
The masked Mexican pro-wrestler Santo makes his cinematic debut in Santo Contra Cerebro Del Mal, a tale of mad-scientists and hypnotic mind-control. This is the beginning of a series of low-budget fantastical films featuring the masked Mexican muscle-man as a super-hero.

Jack Kirby and Stan Lee create the comic book series The Incredible Hulk, a massively-muscled man-monster whose comic book existence is brought about when atomic scientist Bruce Banner is caught in the fallout of a new super bomb. 

The original Kirby/Lee origin story appears to have been based on the opening sequences of The Amazing Colossal Man (1957) as well as The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961), although Kirby and Lee both cite that Frankenstein as the primary influence. After a somewhat shaky start, by the late 1960's the Hulk, speaking Broken English and expressing the repressed rage of adolescent males everywhere, had become an iconic figure. 

The Hulk is the most overtly anti-establishment of mainstream superheroes, and he is frequently shown facing off against that most American of institutions, the US military. This puts him in stark contrast with most of his peers, especially Superman, who the German-born psychiatrist Dr. Fredric Wertham characterized as fascist.

Muscle Beach Party, featuring a platoon of body builders led by Don Rickles, is released by American International Pictures. Starring Frankie Avalon and Anette Funicello, the film attempts to market the the body-building fetish alongside the adolescent bikini obsession. The opus also features future Mission: Impossible star Peter Lupus.

Austrian body builder Arnold Schwarzenegger emigrates to the USA. 

James George Janos, later known as Jesse the Body Ventura, joins the US Navy. He serves as a member of an Underwater Demolition Team until leaving the service in 1975. 

Hercules in New York, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the titular demi-god, is released to theaters. Schwarzenegger, however, is originally billed as Arnold Strong, and his voice is dubbed. Mostly remembered for being unintentionally hilarious, the film in retrospect is the beginning of an auspicious career in the Cinema Fantastique.

Mattel Toy Company, makers of the bullet-breasted/wasp-wasted Barbie Doll, creates Big Jim, a body-builder doll for boys. Big Jim came dressed in gym shorts and no shirt, and the muscles of his rubber arms were rigged to expand when flexed. Big Jim later morphed from jock to fireman, then later into a kind of spyfi superhero.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is released. Although initially a box-office flop, by the late 1970's it becomes a cult hit at midnight showings. The title character, Rocky Horror, is a man-made muscle man, played by body builder Peter Hinwood, referred to in the film as a  "triumph of [the] will." This is a reference to the infamous Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will (1935), made by Leni Riefenstahl: Rocky's light blonde hair and muscular physique embodies the Nazis' Aryan Übermensch ideal.  The song "[In Just Seven Days] I Can Make You A Man" is a reference to the Charles Atlas muscle ads from old comic books.

Also in 1975: 
Sylvester Stallone appears in the Roger Corman exploitation classic, Death Race 2000. The muscular thespian would later grace such films as Demolition Man and Judge Dredd, and his Rocky series would launch the careers of Carl Weathers, Mr. T, and Dolph Lundgren. 

The documentary Pumping Iron premieres. The title soon becomes a mainstream catch-phrase, and Arnold Schwarzenegger at last begins his long, steady climb toward destiny.

The Incredible Hulk, a TV adaptation of the Kirby/Lee comic book, premieres. Producers had invited Arnold Schwarzenegger to star as the green, rampaging, semi-human monster, but the Aryan strongman declined the role.  Schwarzenegger refers his friend and fellow bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno for the role. The show would run until 1982, although the catchphrase 'you wouldn't like me when I'm angry' lives on, 33 years later.

Also in 1978
Italian comic artists, Stefano Tamburini and Tanino Liberatore create the underground comic book character Rank Xerox, who, for legal reasons, was soon re-dubbed Ranxerox. An artificial creature composed partly of Xerox parts, Ranxerox has the muscles of a Schwarzenegger, with the Germanic face of a Universal Studios monster. 

Per cartoonist Richard Corben:  'Ranxerox is a punk, futuristic Frankenstein monster.. this artist and writer team have turned a dark mirror to the depths of our Id and we see reflected the base part of ourselves that would take what it wants with no compromise, no apology - and woe to the person who would cross us. But it is all done with a black, wry, satirical sense of humor.'

 Additionally in 1978: 

'Macho Man,' by the Village People, reaches the top of the pop music charts.


Pro-Wrestler Terry Gene Bollea meets World Wrestling Federation president Vince McMahon, and is soon re-christened Hulk Hogan, evoking Kirby & Lee's comic-book/TV hero/monster.

The Hulkster, along with other grotesque caricatures of manliness, soon becomes one of the major attractions of the WWF, during the critical Reagan Revolution years, when McMahon successfully builds the WWF into a nationally-syndicated brand, eventually reaching the airwaves of the mighty NBC in 1985 for Saturday Night's Main Event

The WWF (which would be renamed WWE in 1998), with many inevitable highs and lows, proves to be a reliable and hugely popular venue for hypertrophic men with glistening skin bedecked in skimpy costumes and locked in the furious embrace of physical combat. It is the WWF which propels Jesse the Body Ventura to national pre-eminence, thus forever altering the course of Minnesota history. 

While not a part of the Fantastique, strictly speaking, Pro-Wrestling becomes its own self-contained fantasy world, with a compelling, detailed and ever-evolving mythology. In addition to Hulk Hogan, other wrestlers with Super-Heroic names abound: The Ultimate Warrior, Sgt. Slaughter, Andre the Giant, the Undertaker, etc. 

The Madison Square Garden Network changes its name to USA Network and is picked-up and distributed via basic cable to millions of subscribers. USA Network is the first nationwide TV network to feature WWF (later WWE) pro-wrestling, bringing it to in millions of viewers. By 1985, 68% of all American households (60 million) had cable television service, bringing the sweaty, male-on-male artificial violence to most of the swelling ranks of American cable-subscribers. For the effectively fatherless latch-key children of the 1980's  Pro-Wrestling is a source of male role models.
USA also dug out of mothballs many Z-grade scif/horror films featuring the masked Mexican wrestler Santo. As the films were dubbed into English, Santo was re-christened Sampson, and thus the wrestler's Fantastique adventures could be enjoyed on Saturday afternoons via Commander USA's Groovy Movies.


Conan the Barbarian, the dramatic breakout role for Austrian body-builder-turned-thespian, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is released. The film is a commercial success, extremely popular with young males, although critics were generally unenthusiastic. Roger Ebert was generally favorable in his assessment, but made an interesting observation:

'There is one aspect of the film I'm disturbed by. It involves the handling of Thulsa Doom, the villain. He is played here by the fine black actor James Earl Jones, who brings power and conviction to a role that seems inspired in equal parts by Hitler, Jim Jones, and Goldfinger. But when Conan and Doom meet at the top of the Mountain of Power, it was, for me, a rather unsettling image to see this Nordic superman confronting a black, and when Doom's head was sliced off and contemptuously thrown down the flight of stairs by the muscular blond Conan, I found myself thinking that Leni Reifenstahl could have directed the scene, and that Goebbels might have applauded it. Am I being too sensitive? Perhaps. But when Conan appeared in the pulps of the 1930s, the character suggested in certain unstated ways the same sort of Nordic super-race myths that were being peddled in Germany.' [Boldface courtesy The Flapdoodle Files]

The Italian 'underground' comic book character Ranxerox is imported to the USA via the 'adult' comic book Heavy Metal, and is an immediate sensation.

Also In 1983
The A-Team, featuring Mr T and impossible missions, premieres on NBC TV. At Christmas, Mr T would visit the Reagan White House, dressed as Sinterklaas, and First Lady of America would sit on his lap. 

Also in 1983:
Lou Ferigno (from The Incredible Hulk) stars as Hercules in yet another Italian film version of the titular demi-god.

The Terminator is released, featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger as an indestructible cyborg from the apocalyptic future year 2029. Although James Cameron's script is widely acknowledged to be 'inspired' by an Outer Limits episode written by Harlan Ellison, the appearance of Terminator himself owes to a different source. The bulging muscles, punk aesthetic, dark glasses, and Germanic scowl evoke the underground comic-book cyborg Ranxerox. Meanwhile, the Terminator's gutteral voice and 3-word catchphrase, "I'll be back," evoke the Broken English of the Frankenstein Monster. Unlike Frankenstein, however, the Terminator elicits not even the slightest sympathy. Capitalizing on Schwarzenegger's minimal acting skills, the mechanical monster is emotionless, remorseless, relentless...perhaps in retrospect a kind of prototype for 21st century America .The film is an unexpected blockbuster, consolidating Schwarzenegger's star power among adolescent males extending into other demographics as well. 

Six foot six inch Nordic strongman and Grace Jones' paramour Dolph Lungren, appears in the 007 thriller A View to a Kill (Lundgren and Jones eventually appear nude together in a Playboy magazine photo essay, prior to their inevitable break-up.). The Viking Adonis later stars as He-Man in Masters of the Universe (1987) and as the titular characters in The Punisher (1989) and The Universal Soldier (1992).

Arnold Schwarzenegger weds NBC employee Maria Shriver, whose mother is the sister of JFK, RFK, and Teddy. Ms. Shriver's father is Sargent Shriver, stalwart of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and founder the Peace Corps. Unbeknownst to most Americans, however, Ms. Shriver's grandfather, the notorious bootlegger and womanizer Joseph Kennedy, was a Nazi sympathizer, a fact which had cost him his position as FDR's ambassador to the UK during WW2. For the next few years, Shriver's fellow NBC employee David Letterman generates late-night yucks by referring to Schwarzenegger as a 'pinhead.' It is unknown if Letterman's use of the unflattering sobriquet is factored-in when the snarky night-time host is passed over and the unfunny right-wing toady Jay Leno gets The Tonight Show when upon Johnny Carson's retirement in 1992.

The Predator premieres at USA cinemas, starring Schwarzenegger, and featuring Carl Weathers from Rocky. Essentially a hybrid of Terminator and Alien, it boasts a close up shot of their respective biceps as Schwarzenegger and Weathers turn a handshake into a kind of sado-erotic arm-wrestling match. 

Also notable is pro-wrestler Jesse the Body Ventura's orgiastic ecstacy as he watches his Gattling-gun shred the bodies of Latin-American peasants. It is his high point as a thespian, and no doubt it remains a source of inspiration for American youth. 

Macho, misogynist, mindless, gratuitously bloody, gingoistic, homophobic, paranoid and packed with special effects, The Predator's excesses push it past the threshold of self-parody. Ultra-Violence, satirized by Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange 16 years earlier, is now embraced, expressing the quintessence of the new Post-Liberal America better than any other film so far. A generation later, it does not seem coincidental that the killer-drone preferred by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama is named The Predator.

  Also in 1987:
Gallic Pro-Wrestler Andre the Giant appears The Princess Bride, a film which originally yields an unimpressive box-office but gradually becomes a beloved classic. Andre the Giant would die in 1993, aged 47 years.

The Return of the Incredible Hulk, a telefilm featurning Lou Ferrigno's reprise of the gamma-spawned superstar, is aired. It is the first live-action appearance of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee's Teutonic super-hero Thor. The film is in fact a pilot for a proposed TV-series based on the Nordic demi-god, but the network declines to pick up the Aryan superhero for prime-time.

David Hasselhoff, the buff star of TV's Knight Rider, performs 'Looking For Freedom,' his German hit single, at the remains of the Berlin Wall on New Year's Eve. The Germans adore him.

Schwarzenegger returns in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, the sequel to The Terminator, but only on on the condition that this time the titular android of hulking size and gutteral voice would be The Hero. Insanely profitable, the film propels director James Cameron toward his ultimate destiny, to become King of the World. Meanwhile, the film's steroid-soaked star gains a new catchphrase: 'Hasta la vista, baby,' strangely foreshadowing his later conquest of Spanish-speaking California voters.  

The Schwarzenegger vehicle The Last Action Hero, is the first Hollywood movie to be promoted by means of having its logo painted across the exterior of a NASA rocket. The promotion cost Columbia Pictures $500,000 but the film is an embarrassing flop. Considering that John F. Kennedy had to suffer assassination for NASA to memorialize him, Schwarzegger gets off cheap.

Schwarzenegger plays Teutonic scientist-villian Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin, a film which is now universally considered to be the absolute nadir of super-heroic cinema. It also is a regular nominee for worst film of all time, although it lacks the enjoyability of Plan 9 From Outer Space. Prior to signing on to the Dynamic Debacle, Arnold had vowed to never portray a villain again. Pro-wrestler Jeep Swenson, who plays the character Bane, dies later that year at age 40.

Jesse the Body Ventura, after a 4-year term as mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, is elected that state's governor, defeating Democratic and Republican opposition, as the Reform Party candidate. Ventura remains in office until 2003, and despite inciting the ridicule of Lake Wobegon Lothario Garrison Keillor, he is credited for reforming property tax laws and a new light rail system in Minneapolis. Opinions vary widely as to his political legacy, but there is a consensus that Democrats and Republicans were able to use their respective parties to thwart most of his agenda. After leaving office, Ventura becomes a political gadfly, hosting the cable TV show Conspiracy Theory, and is a vocal skeptic of the Official Story for 9/11

On NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Arnold Schwarzenegger announces his candidacy for the governorship of California. NBC is owned by General Electric, a corporation then benefiting from almost $600 million a year in defense contracts from the US government. With wars against the Afghan people and the Iraqi people going Full-Tilt Boogie, NBC/GE are rich and getting richer each day. 

Capitalizing on governor Gray Davis' unpopularity following a notorious corporate crime scandal, Schwarzenegger runs as a Republican, serving a party that has traditionally served as a hand-maiden for corporate criminals. He is elected October 7, and holds office until 2011. Initially receiving high approval, he leaves office with an approval rating of only 23% only one percent higher than that of Gray Davis's when he was recalled in October 2003. According to Jack Leibowitz, writing for Los Angeles Magazine, the Governator was, in the long run, revealed to be 'a politician who often seemed in over his head, who prevaricated and bungled, switching sides as it suited him to save his political skin.'
a politician who often seemed in over his head, who prevaricated and bungled, switching sides as it suited him to save his political skin - See more at: http://www.lamag.com/longform/the-rise-and-fall-of-governor-arnold-schwarze/#sthash.YHv7z5yQ.dpuf
a politician who often seemed in over his head, who prevaricated and bungled, switching sides as it suited him to save his political skin. - See more at: http://www.lamag.com/longform/the-rise-and-fall-of-governor-arnold-schwarze/#sthash.YHv7z5yQ.dpuf

Amidst rumors of infidelity, it is announced that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver Kennedy have separated.

Chris Kyle's gingoistic self-hagiography American Sniper is published. Shortly thereafter Jesse The Body Ventura sues the publisher and Kyle for defamation, claiming that Kyle and his ghostwriters fabricated an incident involving Ventura. Despite Kyle's murder in 2013, Ventura prevails in court in July 2014. Ventura recieves high volumes of hate mail and some negative media coverage, but major media outlets mostly ignore the story. The motion picture version of the uniformed assassin's story is released in December 2014 and does very well at the box office, re-affirming America's love of combat-porn.

 Also 2012:
After two prior cinematic experiments in artificial Hulks (2003 & 2008), Marvel's The Avengers premieres in movie theaters, featuring at long last a CGI Hulk to which audiences respond favorably. The question is finally upon us: Are body-builder thespians still necessary?
Also in 2012:  
The Expendables 2 debuts in movie theaters, marking the return of Schwarzenegger to the silver screen. Since Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren also appear, the question must be asked: Can the 1980's return?

Schwarzenegger announces that he is contemplating a run for the presidency. His candidacy would require an amendment to the US Constitution, which currently states:

"No person except a natural born citizen...shall be eligible to the office of President..."


Terminator Geniys is released to theaters, marking Schwarzenegger's return to the franchise which made him a super-star. The film is popular with Schwarzenegger fans but reportedly falls short of the studio's expectations. As a sidebar, at age 68, the Terminator looks more like Ranxerox than ever.

'There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.' -Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900)

Since 1900, many new threads have been woven into the tapestry of world history, including the industrialized art forms of comic strips, motion pictures, and TV. This tapestry now includes the post-industrial art form of body-building. And by means of world wars and wonder-weapons, industrial scale violence and death were also woven into the fabric.  

As life tries to imitates art, a vast cohort of body-builders and visionaries strove to create  new ideals of muscle and power. And so it came to pass that one day a muscle-man achieved a seat of power atop the richest and most populous state of the richest and most powerful nation ever known on earth. 

In the late 20th Century, Ronald Reagan proved that a bad actor could achieve America’s highest political office. In the early 21st Century, Ventura and Schwarzenegger proved that bad actors who made action movies for adolescent males could reach the highest pinnacles of state government.

Martin Luther King Jr. famously described History as an arc, but the staff of the Flapdoodle Files have observed that History often seems to zig-zag, in which case we cannot predict whether or not the Muscle-man has reached his zenith or if his greatest heights yet still await.   

MLK's 'arc of history' supposedly bent toward justice. Maybe yes but maybe no. If history bends in any direction at all, then we can be assured that men will try to bend it in whatever direction they desire. And towards this end, they will use the strength of every muscle at their disposal.

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