Why do people Hate Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Arnold Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-American actor, bodybuilder, businessman, and politician who served as the 38th Governor of California from 2003 to 2011. He rose to fame as a multiple Mr. Olympia champion bodybuilder in the 1970s and later as a major Hollywood action film star in the 1980s and 1990s.

However, despite his accomplishments, Schwarzenegger has also attracted significant criticism and animosity over the years. Here are some of the main reasons why some people dislike or even hate Arnold Schwarzenegger:

Alleged Misconduct Towards Women

Over the years, Schwarzenegger has faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior towards women:

Sexual Harassment Allegations

  • In 2003, just days before Schwarzenegger was elected as Governor of California, the LA Times published an investigative story detailing allegations from 15 women who claimed Schwarzenegger had groped and humiliated them over several decades. The women accused him of grabbing their breasts and buttocks without consent.
  • Schwarzenegger admitted he had “behaved badly sometimes” and apologized but also downplayed the allegations as “misbehaving” rather than abuse. Many found his response dismissive and lacking sincerity or accountability.

Extramarital Affairs

  • In 2011, Schwarzenegger publicly admitted to having an extramarital affair with his housekeeper, Mildred Baena, that resulted in a son born in 1997. This revelation further damaged his reputation, as it contradicted his carefully cultivated family man image.
  • It also emerged that Schwarzenegger had covered up the affair and child support payments for over a decade, keeping it secret even from his wife Maria Shriver. This fueled perceptions that he was dishonest and untrustworthy.

Perceived Ego and Arrogance

Schwarzenegger has frequently been accused of having a massive ego and demonstrating arrogance:

  • In media interviews and appearances, he can come across as cocky and self-aggrandizing. Detractors see him as pompous and obsessed with fame and success.
  • As governor, he was sometimes criticized for being more focused on his personal image and legacy than on details of policymaking.
  • His opponents accused him of having an unearned sense of entitlement stemming from his privileged upbringing as the son of a police chief in Austria.

Environmental Policies as Governor

Environmental activists targeted Schwarzenegger for his mixed record on green policies as California governor:

  • He ultimatelyreversed his earlier opposition to stem cell research and signed progressive legislation to reduce greenhouse emissions in California.
  • However, he was also seen as too friendly with oil companies and slow to crack down on industrial pollution.
  • Environmentalists were disappointed with his approval of new dams and concessions to big agriculture interests.
  • His green credentials were further damaged when it emerged he was still driving a Humvee and had a highly polluting private jet.

Perceived Lack of Substance and Intellect

Some critics feel Schwarzenegger lacks intellectual depth and substance behind his action hero image:

  • His detractors see him as a superficial celebrity who relied on his Hollywood fame to become governor without the qualifications, knowledge or serious policy expertise for the role.
  • As an actor, many of his movies were considered hyper-commercial vehicles focused on special effects rather than creative storytelling.
  • He is seen to have coasted through an economics degree from the University of Wisconsin without any notable academic achievement.
  • As a bodybuilder and later actor, he became known for brawn rather than brains.

Association with Donald Trump

In recent years, Schwarzenegger’s continued association with Donald Trump has further fueled animosity from Trump critics:

  • He remained an advisor on Trump’s Council of Celebrity Apprentices even after Trump’s controversial campaign and election. This led to perceptions that he was endorsing or legitimizing Trump.
  • Trump repeatedly mocked and criticized Schwarzenegger for his poor ratings as host of The Celebrity Apprentice. Schwarzenegger was seen as not standing up to Trump’s bullying.
  • His reluctance to fully disavow Trump likely damaged his standing amongst liberals, who expected him to denounce Trump’s divisive rhetoric and policies.

Perception as a “RINO” by Some Republicans

Some conservative Republicans view Schwarzenegger as a “Republican In Name Only” (RINO) without strong ideological convictions:

  • As California governor, he disappointed some GOP voters by being too willing to work with Democratic state legislators to compromise on policy issues like environmental regulations and healthcare reform.
  • His moderate stances on social issues like abortion and gay rights ran counter to the conservative wing of the Republican party.
  • He has openly criticized Trump’s leadership and policies, further angering parts of the GOP base loyal to Trump.

Allegations of Racism and Homophobia

Schwarzenegger has also faced controversies over past comments leaked publicly:

  • In a private meeting in the 1970s, the LA Times reported he expressed admiration for Hitler and the Nazis. He apologized and put it down to ignorance and youth, but some still find the remarks disturbing.
  • Leaked audio revealed Schwarzenegger using derogatory, racist terms about black people in private conversations. He apologized but it added to negative perceptions about his true character.
  • In an interview in 1977, he made controversial comments seeming to justify certain acts of sexual assault, which he later retracted and apologized for after a public outcry once the interview reemerged in 2005.

Summary of Factors Behind Dislike of Schwarzenegger

In summary, while clearly still admired by many, the factors that fuel animosity or disapproval towards Schwarzenegger from some groups include:

  • Allegations of sexual misconduct and infidelity damaging his reputation
  • Perceptions of ego, arrogance and superficiality
  • Environmental policies as California governor disappointing conservationists
  • Association with Donald Trump alienating liberals
  • Moderate political stances as governor alienating some Republicans
  • Leaked remarks revealing controversial views and prejudices from his past

Despite his apologies and attempts to make amends, these issues have hardened negative perceptions among certain segments of the public when analyzing why some people hate Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Do people dislike Arnold Schwarzenegger because of jealousy?

Some people believe that jealousy plays a role in fueling dislike of Schwarzenegger, but this is debatable:

Possible Reasons for Jealousy

  • His rapid rise to fame, fortune and power from humble beginnings as an Austrian immigrant could provoke jealousy.
  • His exceptional physique and physical strength as a world champion bodybuilder made him an aspirational figure that some may envy.
  • Jealousy over his high-profile Hollywood film career and box office success as an action hero.
  • Resentment of him achieving the governorship of California despite no political experience.


  • Most critics focus on his perceived character flaws rather than professional success per se.
  • Many other celebrities and politicians achieve comparable success without attracting similar animosity.
  • His moderate stances while in office don’t indicate governing purely based on ego.
  • Some jealousy may exist but likely not a primary driver for most people who dislike him.


While Arnold’s rapid rise likely provokes some jealousy, direct policy and character criticisms seem to play a bigger role overall in explaining negativity towards him. Jealousy on its own fails to fully explain the many complex reasons people may dislike or disapprove of Schwarzenegger.

Did Arnold Schwarzenegger deserve the criticism and backlash?

This is a complex debate with reasonable arguments on both sides:

Cases for Deserving Criticism

  • Sexual misconduct allegations, if true, clearly deserve condemnation.
  • Hypocrisy of extramarital affairs and hiding his son contradict his family man branding.
  • Leaked past comments contain disturbing language, regardless of his youth or context.
  • Perceptions of ego and superficiality have some basis, given his self-promotion.
  • More progressive policies as governor could have been pursued.

Cases Against Deserving Criticism

  • Sexual allegations were never conclusively proven and he denied intentional abuse.
  • His moderate governance and ability to compromise showed willingness to adapt his views.
  • His environmental record was reasonably positive for a Republican governor in a state with diverse interests.
  • Associating with Trump does not necessarily imply endorsing him.
  • Past prejudiced comments do not necessarily reflect his current mindset and values.


There are good-faith cases on both sides, given the nuances. In hindsight, Schwarzenegger perhaps deserves some criticism but also credit for his achievements and ability to learn from past mistakes.

The depths of animosity towards him seem disproportionate relative to balanced assessment of his merits and flaws. But perceptions depend heavily on one’s subjective perspective and individual judgment calls.

How has Arnold Schwarzenegger responded to those who dislike him?

Schwarzenegger has attempted to respond to critics and repair his image in various ways over the years:

  • Apologies – He has apologized publicly for past wrongdoings like infidelity and controversial comments from his past. This aims to take responsibility and acknowledge mistakes.
  • Addressing allegations – When facing sexual misconduct allegations and other claims, he has denied intentional malice and provided context for his behavior while expressing regret.
  • Humor and charm – He often relies on his charisma and sense of humor to smooth over animosity towards him. This reinforces his entertaining, likable public persona.
  • Ignoring criticism – Schwarzenegger also seems content to simply ignore some attacks and avoid giving additional oxygen to controversies. This may frustrate critics seeking direct engagement.
  • Policy reform – As governor, in the face of climate change criticisms, he passed notable legislation to reduce emissions, sending a political message.
  • Focusing on positives – In interviews and profiles, he prefers highlighting his ongoing work with charities, public service, and environmental advocacy rather than rehashing old controversies.

Overall, he seems to have accepted that some criticism is inevitable and manages it relatively adroitly with a mix of contrition, humor, counter messaging and shifting attention to more positive narratives. But he remains a polarizing figure, accruing both ardent fans and vocal detractors through the years.

What are the main opposing viewpoints in the debate over Arnold’s legacy?

Schwarzenegger remains a complex, divisive public figure when assessing his life and career legacy. The polarization manifests in very different interpretations of his impact:

Positive view of his legacy

  • Inspiring personification of the “American Dream” through his self-made success
  • Entertained and inspired millions through his iconic film roles and bodybuilding career
  • Moderate, pragmatic governor willing to cross partisan lines to govern effectively
  • Drove meaningful environmental reforms as California governor
  • Committed philanthropist especially for after-school and fitness programs

Negative view of his legacy

  • Checkered past includes allegations of abuse, infidelity and offensive comments
  • Poor role model because of arrogance, superficiality and dishonesty
  • Mediocre governor who lacked depth, intellect and consistency
  • Failed to implement progressive reforms on key issues like environmental regulation
  • Damaged political discourse by legitimizing Trump


Schwarzenegger’s legacy remains hotly disputed. Supporters point to his classic films, business success, and moderate governance. Critics highlight alleged misconduct, superficiality as a politician, and association with Trump. His balanced record elicits both admiration and animosity in intense, polarized responses.

What does the polarized debate around Schwarzenegger say about public figures and celebrity culture?

The intense polarization over Arnold Schwarzenegger provides some interesting insights about modern celebrity culture and judging public figures:

  • Celebrities face immense scrutiny and pressure to be “perfect” role models, which is generally unrealistic.
  • Single mistakes or controversial actions tend to be blown out of proportion, despite nuances.
  • The public finds it difficult to reconcile the dual heroic and flawed natures of celebrities.
  • Legacies tend to be oversimplified in absolute positive or negative narratives, when reality is more complex.
  • Partisan identities and loyalties shape perceptions of public figures as “heroes” or “villains”.
  • Celebrities have limited ability to shake off negative reputations once firmly attached.
  • Public figures often have little privacy, with every past action or comment liable to resurface and be controversially interpreted.

The polarized Schwarzenegger debate shows the intense pressures faced by celebrities in the public eye. It also highlights people’s tendency towards “black and white” judgments and difficulty in balancing multiple perspectives when assessing reputations.


In conclusion, Arnold Schwarzenegger provokes strong emotions from both admirers and critics because of his uniquely high-profile but divisive life trajectory. Allegations of misconduct, perceptions of superficiality and ego, environmental policies as governor, and association with Donald Trump all fuel particularly negative reactions from some segments of the public.

But he also retains loyal fans who see him as an inspirational figure who overcame long odds and made notable contributions in bodybuilding, movies and politics. The intensity of feelings towards Schwarzenegger likely says more about the polarizing nature of modern celebrity culture and partisan identities than any single definitive truth about the man himself.

His complex mixed legacy elicits simplistic, subjective responses that reveal our tendency as a society to categorize public figures in absolute hero or villain terms. But like most major celebrities who capture the public imagination for decades, the full reality resists neat caricatures and deserves layered analysis.

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