Thursday, August 1, 2013

Terminator 2, Soldier for Christ

In middle school, I was obsessed with the Terminator series, particularly Terminator 2.  Aside from an early love of sci-fi focusing on robotics and AI, there was no reason for my fandom that I could think of.  Later on, when I realized that the setting of my childhood was highly abusive and restrictive (which I'd thought was normal), I thought that my obsession had been more based on the idea of some unstoppable superhuman rescuing me.  That may have had something to do with it.

Thinking more on it now, though, another layer is clearer.  John Connor was my age, he'd been raised in a militaristic underground based on a fantastical conspiracy theory; he had to be the perfect soldier-leader, no room for failure lest the entire human race suffer and die.  I was raised in a cult (under the guise of Catholicism) that taught that martyrdom was the greatest status a human could attain; the girls had to strive to be perfect child-wives and any failure would doom the entire parish to eternal hellfire.  Naturally, I would relate to a character who not only lived a narrative similar to mine, but also got to act it out dynamically while I was locked alone in a basement for hours every day.  And of course any kid would idolize adults who'd sacrifice themselves for her when real-life adults insist that no amount of servitude would be sacrifice enough for salvation.

I'm not saying that my parish looked to the Terminator series for ideas or anything ridiculous like that - more like finding personal meaning in something (even something as cheesy as Arnie striding around in leather) usually reveals something about one's personal situation.  And that revelation might not be clear until years later, from a healthy distance.

Also, I was just thrilled that I was allowed to like something normally reserved for boys.  I don't know how the Terminator series slipped past the radar!

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