Book Review: Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Story

I’m a Red personality type, it’s official – I’ve been tested. It happened as part of a work-training program entitled: Getting to know yourself and others. Reds aren’t common at my place of work, but there’s rather a predominance of Greens. If the profiling is to be believed, Reds aren’t the most amiable of personality types. They are goal driven and somewhat more indifferent to other people’s feelings, needless to say that your average green cares quite a bit more. All this calculating lack of emotion can give Reds a bad name. I could certainly detect a measure of judgement from about the room.

It wasn’t all bad news, however, the test indicated that I would generally adjust my redness in order to accommodate others. Compromising my self-serving instincts for the benefit of others seemed to paint me in a slightly more sympathetic light. I indicated this to the outgoing Yellow who oversaw the event. Looking over my chart she let out a soft tutting noise, the Greens looked on. She was quick to disabuse me, pointing out that this was likely a temporary glitch and I would most likely soon return to my selfish Red ways. “It can be very stressful to move position in the chart like this, I’d expect you to settle down to your natural position quite soon.” So much for that, there is clearly no room for reform in the world of personality profiling.

A man who is certainly at peace with his Red personality type is Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is not famous for his compassion, nor could he easily be described as a selfless man. He is, in many ways, the embodiment of a head down, out for themselves, red. While his autobiography, Total Recall, attempts to somewhat modify that view, it is never that convincing. The tale is an extraordinary example of just what a driven Red can do: Red builds himself; Red then conquers professional bodybuilding; Red uses this as a jump off point into becoming a film actor; Red becomes the highest paid actor in the world; Red marries Maria Shriver of the Kennedy family; and Red caps it all off by becoming governor of California.

Arnie’s message is a simple one; he was never distracted by others; he always prioritized himself and his own ambition, even to the point of missing his father’s funeral; and he learned all he needed to as a young man at the gym: reps, reps, and more reps. He made the time, he fed his ambition with all the resources he could acquire, and he didn’t stop. This meant three hours in the gym every day and, I imagine, a considerable food bill. He built repetition upon repetition until finally he would get his desired result. It was this bloody-minded application that he follows through every aspect of his career.

He goes to some lengths to stress that playing the title role of The Terminator was not easy. He would perform actions again and again until they became perfect, fluid and machine like in execution. It is difficult not to view Arnie through the prism of this role. The notion of Arnie the machine is all too easy to envisage and he tries to distance himself from this interpretation. There is a clear parallel in that the two pursue their objective until its successful completion. Arnie has certainly done this in his career, but there is a constant need for recognition that runs throughout his life that appears far from machine like.

Arnie doesn’t hold back in highlighting his successful investments, his Mr Olympia titles, and the famous catchphrases popularised by his many film roles. He even boasts that he slept with his film rival Sylvester Stallone’s future wife, while seeing Maria Shriver; choosing to publicly get one over on his old rival rather than considering the impact on his family. There is a sense that the lack of acknowledgement given to him by his father plays a strong part here.

Arnie is a man of many Herculean achievements. He is the embodiment of what determination and effort can accomplish. Though the shadow of his father is cast over much of the book. One can’t help but feel that not attending his father’s funeral was more than just Arnie prioritising his work, but then again us Reds aren’t famous for dealing with emotions.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. misterwords says:

    I’ve always seen you as a sort of thinner Arnie.


  2. misterwords says:

    I’ve always thought of you as a thinner Arnie.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s