The World According to Arnold
Hollywood superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger knows what he wants—and usually gets it.
From the Print Edition:
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Summer 96
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He talks about his own experience as a young man, then says, "Violence is a social problem in this country, created by the very politicians that now complain that movie violence is causing it. It is them, by not having run the country well, that have gotten the kids into that. The inner-city problem is not a creation from the movies. The violence that is going on there--the shootings in the schools and all of that--is not created by our movies."
No. But study after study has shown that children exposed to violent images on television and in the movies do behave more aggressively, even violently. Schwarzenegger doesn't want to hear about it. He'd rather talk about what he's doing to address the problems of inner-city violence--and inner-city alienation, frustration and failure.
Schwarzenegger is the chairman of the Inner-city Games Foundation, which sponsors more than 40 sports and recreation activities in 17 cities nationwide. In Los Angeles alone, more than 100,000 inner-city children and teenagers participated in the games last year.
Danny Hernandez, who has long worked with youths in the Latino neighborhoods of East Los Angeles, founded the Inner-city Games in 1991 and--attracted by Schwarzenegger's star appeal and his work on the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports--asked him to help. Schwarzenegger has provided free office space to the foundation and--more importantly--he delivers the foundation's central message directly to the kids.
"I wanted the kids to see that if you work hard, you can go far, and I knew Arnold would tell them that and show them that," Hernandez says. "He's been totally hands-on. He comes to the centers so often that the kids call him 'Arnold.' He helps raise money all over the country, and he brings a lot of his celebrity friends in to help, too."
From the world of sports have come, among others, Muhammad Ali; former Olympic champions Bruce Jenner, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Edwin Moses and Bob Beamon; and boxers Evander Holyfield and Oscar de la Hoya. From Hollywood: Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Edward James Olmos, Jay Leno, Arsenio Hall.
Although the focus of the program is on competitive sports, the foundation also sponsors academic competition and arts programs and awards scholarships to promising inner-city youngsters. Schwarzenegger is clearly proud of the work the foundation is doing. He sees it as an opportunity to act on his conviction that family and a sense of belonging are crucially important to keeping kids off drugs, out of gangs and out of prison. (Schwarzenegger has been criticized for using steroids himself as a bodybuilder, but he says he always used them "under a doctor's supervision," never suffered any side effects and never allowed drugs to take over his life, as so many in the inner cities and Hollywood alike have done.)
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