Schadenfreude. In German it means the pleasure we feel at another’s misfortune.
How else to describe the ghoulish response in the press to the current malaise of The Austrian Oak, Arnold Schwarzenegger, recently re-elected Governor of California?
“Time is chasing Arnold Schwarzenegger and catching up, ” it howls.
“California is witnessing â€¦ the deconstruction of one of the greatest bodies of all time,” they shriek.
Exhibit A: Arnie pictured resuming gubernatorial duties from his hospital bed a whole two days after surgery to his femur after breaking his leg in a freak ski-ing accident.
The Oak apparently toppled while practically stationary at Sun Valley ski resort, where there is a black diamond run named after him in recognition of his legendary ski ing prowess, which you’d expect from an Austrian, nicht wahr?
Exhibit B: Hobbling to his own inaguration and the Golden Globes on crutches (as opposed to what – bouncing in a pogo stick?) days after said surgery.
Exhibit C: “Discussing painkiller protocol on National Television” in relation to the the bolts and pins in his femur. Ouch.
Exhibit D: ” Appearing tired and cutting back his schedule.” Oooo. After surgery? The mind boggles – after all the guy’s nearly 60.
Exhibit Z: ” Unable to ride motorcycles in Malibu or continue a daily workout routine Mr S has seemed depressed by his injury.”
I don’t know about you, but at this stage I’m wondering whatâ€™s newsworthy about being depressed when one’s workout routine is interrupted. Especially when one happens to have seven Mr Olympia trophies gracing the mantle-piece.
As the Shadenfreuders gather to dance on the as yet empty grave of the one time Hollywood action hero and most successful bodybuilder of all time, they may do well to deconstruct their own negative readings of what could otherwise be seen as a pretty miraculous recovery and the kind of amazing stamina that you’d expect from a former athlete.
After all, the Governator’s latest mishap was his third brush with deconstruction this year. In the last twelve months, he’s also had heart surgery (yeah, Arnold, you should have left the Dianabol to the guys with normal aorta valves) and had fifteen stitches to his lip after coming off his Harley.
That’s a pretty big boo-boo, isn’t it, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press? Kinda puts falling off your barstool in perspective, now doesn’t it.
Yet, according to a Southern Californa professor, the superhero’s recent travails are “reassuring for us regular folks and fellow boomers to see that he has the same mortal coil as the rest of us.”
Dream on, Professor. Medical experts rate Schwarzenegger’s health in the top 5% of the population for his age and gender.
But, the Professor insists: “…if it can happen to him, it cuts the rest of us a little slack.”
If, by “It”, the professor is referring to the generally known fact that even icons get old and die, perhaps he should stick to deconstructing the cult of celebrity that grips our culture, and leave Arnie’s prognosis to the experts who predict a full recovery in eight weeks.
Which also gives the Fourth Estate a bit of time to examine their own attitudes toward this impressively aging human being.
One way to deconstruct that might be in terms of eifersuchtig.
In German that means jealousy.
Eat your heart out, Prof.