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Who is the real hero of Terminator 2: Judgement Day?


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Old 05-09-2013, 16:32
Vinnie_DS
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My posts look to re-review classic films by light-heartedly applying film theories (such as narrative, sexuality, authorship and so on) - all in the name of admiration and debate.

Film: Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Year: 1991
Theoretical area of investigation: Narrative archetypes


Terminator 2: Is Arnie our real hero?



It’s been 22 years since we heard the unmistakable “Hasta la vista, baby” leave the cybernetic lips of Schwarzenegger's Terminator. Originally one of cinemas greatest-ever villains, the T-101 would go on to become the unlikely hero of the 1991 sequel...But who is the real hero of Terminator 2: Judgement Day? For most, the obvious suggestion would be Arnie’s T-101 - but he’s not the true knight in shinning alloy here. The real hero of T2 is our weakling turned macho-matriarch Sarah Connor.

Do I look like the mother of the future?” whined a flimsy Connor back in the 1984 original – quite simply, “no love, you don’t” would have been the most honest answer. But step forward to the beginning of T2 and Sarah Connor is no longer the damsel in distress needing a hero. Sarah 2.0 is muscled, aggressive - dangerous enough to be locked up - and overall masculine; all the ingredients of a true hero. It is her strength to protect her son, her good intentions, and her role in making the story even possible that makes Sarah Connor the real hero of Terminator 2.

She and her fateful womb are no longer in need of saving, and it is her now teenage son, John - leader of the future resistance - that plays the role of the princess. Not forgetting Robert Patrick who plays the villainous upgrade T-1000; a liquid metal morphing superior that leaves Arnie’s T-101 looking like WALL-E.

Ultimately the T-101 is our false hero. Its original intention was to kill John Connor (as seen in 1984’s Terminator); and only reprogramming it could compromise its role in T2. Even with its one good intention to now protect John Connor, it's still capable of doing bad to achieve its aim. As one particular scene proves. John: “You can’t just go around killing people!”, T-101: “Why.”.

Whilst Schwartzenegger’s Terminator is key to saving the day, in reality he plays helper to Sarah Connor’s quest in protecting her son. As a Skynet creation, whether doing good or bad, it ultimately makes him a villainous product. Conor on the other hand cannot be compromised or reprogrammed. She aims to go further than the T-101 by not only saving her son, but by also bringing down Skynet – it is her intention to save the future, unlike the Terminators.


Share your thoughts on this classic film... Do you agree? Who do you believe is the hero and princess in this story?

@tweet_vinnie
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Old 05-09-2013, 18:43
Takae
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You have rather definite ideas of femininity and masculinity, don't you? For example: "She and her fateful womb are no longer in need of saving [...]" You might as well say "Kyle returns to the past to save and protect his sperm".
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Old 05-09-2013, 19:05
RebelScum
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Sarah Connor was always the main hero in T2. Wasn't it obvious? Is the OP under the impression that most people think the Terminator is the hero?
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Old 05-09-2013, 19:40
Virgil Tracy
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never really thought Sarah was the 'hero' , she actually becomes the terminator of the piece for a while , thats what made it so interesting story-wise .

I guess I'd say John is , he's the moral compass for both Sarah and T101 .

the T101 makes the sacrifice at the end tho .
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Old 05-09-2013, 21:25
Vinnie_DS
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Takae - My comments on gender, such as the one you quoted are clearly meant as humour. If you look at what I'm saying I'm calling John Connor the Princess of the narrative and Sarah the Hero - an archetype often reserved for men.
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Old 05-09-2013, 21:29
Vinnie_DS
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Rebelscum - I'm not under any impression - most people hail Arnie's T101 as the hero of the sequels. Which is why he progressed onto the third film and Sarah Connor did not... Who the audience receives as their hero often lives on in the world of Hollywood.
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Old 05-09-2013, 21:30
mwardy
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Is this a joke? You have misapplied a few terms from Proppian analysis to produce nonsense. A student project (I hope you got your ethics form signed, especially the bit about misleading the questionnaire subjects), or what?
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Old 05-09-2013, 21:35
Vinnie_DS
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mwardy - Please elaborate your stance so I can give a proper reply. If you look at the start of the post I - in bold - tell you this is a light-hearted use of theory applied to a classic film, all for debate. Nothing is misapplied here, you've just misinterpreted.
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Old 05-09-2013, 21:44
mwardy
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mwardy - Please elaborate your stance so I can give a proper reply. If you look at the start of the post I - in bold - tell you this is a light-hearted use of theory applied to a classic film, all for debate. Nothing is misapplied here, you've just misinterpreted.
Well, princess, helper, false hero and hero are four of the seven functions Propp finds in his Morphology of the (Russian) Folk Tale. Are you saying you are not referring to Propp?

If not, I'm amazed. And if you are, you've misapplied them. Light-hearted shouldn't mean wrong.
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Old 05-09-2013, 21:47
Vinnie_DS
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mwardy - At the very beginning I tell you I'm light-heartedly apply theory. This means mildly and not every aspect.

I then name the theoretical area as 'Narrative archetypes'. So obviously this is a mild use of Propp's archetypes. None of which I have misplaced - this is a debate as also noted.

Do you have an actual point?
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Old 05-09-2013, 21:51
mwardy
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mwardy - At the very beginning I tell you I'm light-heartedly apply theory. This means mildly and not every aspect.

I then name the theoretical area as 'Narrative archetypes'. So obviously this is mild use of Propp's archetypes. None of which i have misplaced - this is a debate as also noted.

Do you have an actual point?
My point is just that you haven't understood Propp (there is no debate about this), and thus are inspiring more confusion, and less insightful contributions, than if you got it right. So I think you have a good idea for making threads but a bit more homework will produce better results.
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Old 05-09-2013, 21:54
Vinnie_DS
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mwardy - There is no right or wrong: it's theory. You don't understand Propp if you think his archetypes are cemented. There's no confusion here, you just don't understand through your lack of knowledge.

This isn't a dissertation, it's a review.
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Old 05-09-2013, 21:58
mwardy
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mwardy - There is no right or wrong: it's theory. You don't understand Propp if you think his archetypes are cemented. There's no confusion here, you just don't understand through your lack of knowledge.

This isn't a dissertation, it's a review.
Oh dear.

Look, good luck with your thread. But I suggest using theory accurately and thus relaying the hard-won insights of others more faithfully will produce better results than winging it.
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Old 05-09-2013, 22:02
Vinnie_DS
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mwardy - Again you're not elaborating what is wrong here. From what I gather you disagree with the characters and archetypes I've matched them with. Which is fine if you can give reason because it's theory and debate - but you haven't given a reasonable argument.

Like I said, it's a review not a dissertation. I clearly stated MILD use of theory, not academic use.

I can only recommend you read properly before commenting in future.
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Old 05-09-2013, 22:16
mwardy
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mwardy - Again you're not elaborating what is wrong here. From what I gather you disagree with the characters and archetypes I've matched them with. Which is fine if you can give reason because it's theory and debate - but you haven't given a reasonable argument.

Like I said, it's a review not a dissertation. I clearly stated MILD use of theory, not academic use.

I can only recommend you read properly before commenting in future.
No, it's your role as the thread starter to understand the stuff. Lighthearted or mild doesn't mean wrong. I'll just give a couple of small examples then I'm off.


Ultimately the T-101 is our false hero.
The false hero impedes the hero's progress and is the final obstacle they must face. How does this fit the terminator's function?

Whilst Schwartzenegger’s Terminator is key to saving the day, in reality he plays helper to Sarah Connor’s quest in protecting her son. As a Skynet creation, whether doing good or bad, it ultimately makes him a villainous product.
The helper is on the side of the hero and so can't ultimately be a villainous product.

As I say, trying to use theory to get a conversation going is a nice idea and I applaud you for doing it, but my point is using the wisdom of others accurately will lead to more fruitful discussion.
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Old 05-09-2013, 22:21
RebelScum
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Rebelscum - I'm not under any impression - most people hail Arnie's T101 as the hero of the sequels.
No, Arnie was certainly the bigger star and the poster boy for the movie, but the hero in the story was Sarah Connor. That's made perfectly clear. You are confusing Arnie's star power and like-ability with hero status. Just because he was the bigger star and, for many, the main attraction of the movie, doesn't mean he was the hero of the story. As mentioned in the thread already, at one point she loses sight of her humanity, but then overcomes her own demons and comes back from the brink. It's the classic fall and rise, part of the "hero's journey". If you wanted to make the discussion intersting you could have made an argument that Kyle was the real hero, although you'd have to expand the scope of the discussion to include the first movie, not just T2.

Which is why he progressed onto the third film and Sarah Connor did not... Who the audience receives as their hero often lives on in the world of Hollywood.
Whoever is more marketable lives on in Hollywood. That was always going to be Arnie. The movie makers thought people wouldn't be bothered when they discarded Sarah Connor so flippantly. They thought Arnie's mere presence would be sufficient to please the audience. They were wrong. There are many reasons T3 sucks, this was one of them.
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Old 05-09-2013, 22:31
Vinnie_DS
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mwardy - Oh my. No sorry to break it to you but you've misinterpreted the whole review.

No1. "Light hearted or mild doesn't mean wrong" - no, it means light hearted or mild - "wrong" doesn't come into it, that's just your subjective and incorrect opinion.

No2. One character can hold multiple archetypes and character functions.

No3. He's the false hero in the sense that he has a mission to do good. He does delay the mission - he acts as body guard a great deal of the film instead of taking on Skynet as Sarah Connor sets out to do once free. He is also the last obstacle they must face - hence his self-destruction at the end (as he realises he's a villainous product). He also helps the hero achieve the goal, therefore the helper. There's no cemented rules that says these roles are exclusive in good or bad, with the exception of hero and villain.

The problem here is that you're uneducated about the full works of Propp and that his archetypes are not cemented in rules. His characters can also cross, interchange, or even fill more than one archetype. Your opinion goes against Propp's concept.

You're dismissed, unless you have anything else for me to correct?
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Old 05-09-2013, 22:44
Vinnie_DS
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RebelScum - I disagree. Star power and who the mass audience perceive as the hero are the same thing. Sarah Connor is no doubt the hero, but the mass audience sees Arnie as the hero. There is no film without a hero. So for Arnie to make the third cut clearly that tells you the audience perceived him as the greater hero - regardless of star power.

Not that I agree, but you could also argue Arnie is the hero as we witness his rise and fall. A machine set out to kill it's target ends up defending it; a machine that struggles between the line of man and machine, and what it is to be human.

And yes we could talk about Kyle being a hero, but that would involve a different film. We're discussing T2 not T1. But while I'm at it, I'd call Sarah the hero in T1, too. Sure she's the Princess for the majority of the film, but in the end she attempts to save kyle; and she "adopts masculinity" and abandons her "cowering femininity", all by taking the villain head-on and destroying it.

It's all very debatable. Which is what this is about
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Old 06-09-2013, 11:43
bratwurzt
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If I can interrupt this intellectual dick measuring, there was no hero, Judgement Day still came.
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Old 06-09-2013, 12:13
kippeh
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The real hero is the maintenance guy in the corridor at the Galleria who sacrificed himself to get lattes for everybody.
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Old 06-09-2013, 12:32
Takae
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Takae - My comments on gender, such as the one you quoted are clearly meant as humour. If you look at what I'm saying I'm calling John Connor the Princess of the narrative and Sarah the Hero - an archetype often reserved for men.
Good Lord. I shouldn't have made my point that subtle.
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Old 06-09-2013, 12:32
Takae
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If I can interrupt this intellectual dick measuring, there was no hero, Judgement Day still came.
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Old 06-09-2013, 12:40
mwardy
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mwardy - Oh my. No sorry to break it to you but you've misinterpreted the whole review.

No1. "Light hearted or mild doesn't mean wrong" - no, it means light hearted or mild - "wrong" doesn't come into it, that's just your subjective and incorrect opinion.

No2. One character can hold multiple archetypes and character functions.

No3. He's the false hero in the sense that he has a mission to do good. He does delay the mission - he acts as body guard a great deal of the film instead of taking on Skynet as Sarah Connor sets out to do once free. He is also the last obstacle they must face - hence his self-destruction at the end (as he realises he's a villainous product). He also helps the hero achieve the goal, therefore the helper. There's no cemented rules that says these roles are exclusive in good or bad, with the exception of hero and villain.

The problem here is that you're uneducated about the full works of Propp and that his archetypes are not cemented in rules. His characters can also cross, interchange, or even fill more than one archetype. Your opinion goes against Propp's concept.

You're dismissed, unless you have anything else for me to correct?
‘Light-hearted or mild’ thus seems to mean anything can mean anything, which therefore ends up meaning nothing.

What are the characteristics or actions of a false hero?

The most common account, which you can find everywhere including Wikipedia, is that the false hero “takes credit for the hero’s actions or tries to marry the princess”

One from a blog:
A variant on the villain and a potential complication within the plot is the False Hero, who appears to act heroically and may even be initially mistaken for the real Hero.

The False Hero will try to steal the Hero's thunder, grabbing the credit and perhaps trying to marry the princess instead. The False Hero is thus an usurper, a thief perhaps of the worst kind, who plays on people's good nature to boldly steal in broad daylight.

The False Hero may also gain the respect or other control of the Princess's Father, thus frustrating the Hero's ability to gain the hand of the Princess.
One from an academic source:
The false hero, as constructed by Vladimir Propp, is the deceitful character who attempts to assume the role of the hero but who ultimately must be exposed and punished for the usurper that he or she is. False heroes are not true villains, but they are obstacles in the way of the hero’s successful completion of the quest.

Deborah Jaramillo, Ugly War, Pretty Package p. 130.

Clearly, nothing about the T101 remotely resembles this. And his mission to ‘do good’ is to protect John from the T1000 so he’s not delaying anything. Propp’s false hero category just doesn’t work at all.

I’m well aware of Propp’s spheres of action and functions, though I did in my haste refer to the terminator’s function. I think I had in mind Greimasian actants; it’s been decades since I’ve looked at this stuff.

The trouble with ‘mild’ application of theory is that it becomes unclear and in the end arbitrary. So you said “Whilst Schwartzenegger’s Terminator is key to saving the day, in reality he plays helper to Sarah Connor’s quest in protecting her son. As a Skynet creation, whether doing good or bad, it ultimately makes him a villainous product.” What does the ‘it’ refer to? The quote reads as if there is a link between the two sentences, which would be wrong since the helper *as helper* can’t be a ‘villainous product’. It wasn’t me who was equating single characters with single spheres of action. Or if you weren’t doing that, why were the sentences placed together? (That’s a rhetorical question. I’m not going to pursue this any further.)

You then start talking of star power and the Hollywood system, which is well outside Proppian or any other sort of narratalogical analysis, and it just becomes an endless and pointless game of who is going to define what as what. As Rebel Scum has found out with your incoherent reasons for disagreeing with his well thought out post.

Needless to say, I have no faith in the terms of the 'debate' so it's adios muchachos, as Arnie didn't say.
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Old 06-09-2013, 13:03
kippeh
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^ Similar to Jack Burton in Big Trouble in Little China. He is not the hero, although the main character. He is kind of the bumbling sidekick to Wang Chi, who is the real hero of the film.
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Old 06-09-2013, 15:13
Vinnie_DS
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mwardy - That essay you just wrote is you just repeating what I've already answered. And the quotes just back up my points that I refuse to repeat to someone not paying attention.

If you knew anything about Propp you'd know his narrative functions don't all entirely fit into a story, but at least one in each section will. So going into functions of character archetypes is pointless, as not all have to apply.

Arnie is the false hero - he's presented as a saviour of John Connor, when the real motive of his existence is to kill John Connor. He also slows the resolution of the situation by drawing John away from the T1000 rather than taking out Skynet - something he's forced into by John who is chasing after Sarah. He also is a lie (deceiving) what with being intended to kill John, and with being the remaining threat at the end of the film that could betray John used by skynet - hence his self-destruction.

I won't be repeating that again - so stop repeating your incorrect application of Propp, otherwise I'll just copy and paste.

As for the helper- once again I'll tell you - A CHARACTER CAN HAVE MORE THAN ONE ARCHETYPE. "Good" and "bad" are reserved for hero and villain. All other archetypes are NOT defined by good or bad, they are defined by actions throughout the narrative.

ALSO - I don't "then start talking about the Hollywood system and star power" - somebody else does, I merely add thought to it. That's completely separate from the debate we're having so don't try to drag it in to get another person on your side.

ALSO - you don't seem to understand when I say "mild/light-hearted" use of theory. This means a loose use of theoretical elements - not every aspect, as this isn't an essay. - LAST TIME I REPEAT THAT, TOO. I will just copy and paste should you not process that.

Nothing is unclear - it's debate and theory - neither of which are necessarily fact. If you didn't know theory is a matter of thought and not fact then you really shouldn't be trying to make use of Propp's archetypes; as your narrow mind will narrow his work - which is against its purpose.

If you have no faith in the word debate you shouldn't even be commenting as in the first sentence I boldly state this is a debate - so yeah, you look quite stupid.

You're dismissed.
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