Abstract

As the most important and sustained cyborg narrative in Hollywood film, the Terminator films, particularly the first two, continue to demand a considerable amount of critical scrutiny. When the highly charged allegorical power of the figure of the cyborg is added to Arnold Schwarzenegger's star persona, now evolved into that of national political figure, this persona emerges as a welter of gendered, sexual, and racial anxieties that relate in multivalent ways. In his famous essay "Is the Rectum a Grave?" Leo Bersani argues that the "logic of homosexual desire includes the potential for a loving identification with the gay man's enemies." This essay argues that films like Terminator 2 enact the queer theory debates indexed in Bersani's essay, revealing the complicity with normative standards of gendered identity in queer desire, but also exposing the queer nature of these normative standards. The film forces us to acknowledge that while queer desire may be troublingly complicit in the structures of normative power that pathologize it, those very same structures proceed from an oddly analogous fascination with the homoerotics of power, especially in its most virulent, which is to say, its fascist, form. Terminator 2 cloaks its sadomasochistic fascist fantasies in the guise of the violent, melodramatic family film. The film is exemplary of the "Bush to Bush" era-from 1989 to 2008, the period presided over by Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II. Terminator 2 illuminates the split between narcissistic and masochistic modes of male sexuality that informs the period's representational practices.

Additional Information

ISSN
1053-1920
Launched on MUSE
2009-08-06
Open Access
No
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