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Arnie Online

By Annalee Newitz

WE ARE the sum of the information available about us on the web. For the sake of argument, let's assume this is true. Then let's see how this hypothesis works to explain the web presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger, gubernatorial hopeful in California. What can we learn about Arnold's character based on his online manifestations?

1.) Arnold's handlers don't give a crap about building a constituency online. The "official" site for Arnold's campaign--www.joinarnold.com--is a paltry little thing. At presstime, an amateurishly Photoshopped "feathered edge" image of Arnold and wife Maria Shriver tops a page that announces, "Full Web Site Coming Soon!" The only functional parts of the site allow you to volunteer your time to the campaign, donate money and click through to Arnold's "entertainment page" at www.schwarzenegger.com. And what's up with the stupid domain name? The smart Wisconsin geek named Stephen L. Arnold who has owned Arnold.com and Arnold.US for several years told me via email that he has not yet been approached by any Arnold campaigners with an offer to buy his domains. What the hell, people? Get a real domain name, ferchrissake. And pay Stephen Arnold lots of money for it, too. That's the way all the big guys do it.

2.) Arnold can't tell the difference between entertainment and politics. At the elaborate www.schwarzenegger.com, allegedly an "entertainment" site, news of Arnold's campaign appearances are snuggled up next to the latest information about Terminator 3. Like Ronald Reagan, who could never quite figure out if he was president or just playing one on TV, Arnold will never be able to figure out if he's a celluloid cyborg or a human, and neither will we.

3.) Arnold is proud that he smoked pot. Arnie once fretted that people might discover the scene where he smokes a fatty in the documentary Pumping Iron, which features a stoned and cocky Arnold competing for the Mr. Universe title. But recently he embraced the old movie, helping release a digitally remastered version and selling tons of Pumping Iron merchandise in the "Arnold Store" on www.schwarzenegger.com. He says now that he "did inhale," but that he hasn't done it since his Pumping Iron days. Does that mean pot will be part of his campaign to make America healthier?

4.) Arnold's supporters are morons. If you want to plunge deep inside the mind of an Arnold supporter, look no further than the embarrassingly bad Arnold campaign blog at arnoldforgovernor.blogspot.com. Not only is this blogger completely incapable of using the ridiculously simple software provided by Blogspot, but his links also don't take us to anything more exotic than instapundit.com. Even worse is the guy at schwarzeneggergovernor.com, who has posted a big picture of a child grimacing under the words "On October 7, 2003, for the benefit of the Children of California, Gray Davis will be terminated." Isn't it kind of creepy to associate pictures of your cute kid with homicidal ramblings? And his slogan can't be beat: "T3 in 03."

5.) Arnold's detractors are morons. What's truly scary is that the geek community hasn't provided us with any decent parody sites about Arnold's candidacy yet. The domains schwarzeneggersucks.com and arnoldschwarzeneggersucks.com are bought, parked and empty. Arnoldsucks.com is the property of some crazed Englishman who is obsessed with smearing the name of Arnold Clark, a British guy who sells crappy cars and rips people off. You know what this means, don't you? Somebody is more devoted to disgracing a used-car salesman than you are to disgracing Arnie. For shame.

6.) You can make money by selling political propaganda that includes trademarked images from Arnold's movies. The geniuses at Team Arnold have built a website that's a trademark-violation lawsuit waiting to happen! Hooray! At Arnold-2003.com, you can buy Arnie campaign T-shirts that appropriate the iconography and images from Total Recall. (It's a recall election--get it?) The owners of the site, who list a fake New York address with the Whois registry and request that orders for T-shirts be faxed to a Seattle location, say that they "are not associated in any way with the Schwarzenegger campaign." They also believe that they "did not need permission to use the ideas from Total Recall." Oh really? Maybe the MPAA begs to differ. The site owners say they've had 3,000 T-shirt orders already. Sounds like they're making a profit on somebody else's intellectual property, doesn't it?

Annalee Newitz ([email protected]) is a surly media nerd who is voting for Georgy Russell, the world's first female geek politician.

Send a letter to the editor about this story to letters@metronews.com.

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