Dane Rogan Showalter was only 4 years old when Neil deGrasse Tyson first commented on Terminator‘s supposed time travel plot hole.
This week the astrophysicist had a question and answer session with the Huffington Post, where a now 8 year old Dane asked the scientist to clarify.
“[The 'Terminator' film's] own premise said Arnold Schwarzenegger had to come back butt naked because clothing is not alive and he can’t travel through time with ‘living anything.’ And all I said is, ‘Hair is dead.’ Hair is not living anything, so he should’ve been butt naked and bald.”
So I’m just going to disagree with a world-renowned smart guy and host of the rebooted Cosmos by clarifying that the original “Terminator rules” of time travel were for organic matter. “Living matter” is just a shorthand way to explain it in layman’s terms, I guess. If it were literally only living matter, fingernails and maybe the enamel on your teeth would be a problem, too.
On the flip side, since it’s all organic matter that gets through, you’d think clothes made out of 100% cotton or wool or leather would survive the machine. And the entire reason a Terminator can time-travel is that it’s a metal skeleton but covered in living tissue. So if you wanted it bad enough you should be able to shove a weapon up your butt before you go, right? Am I overthinking this?
So let’s all just agree this was the best way for James Cameron to show 80’s Arnold’s naked ass in full technicolor glory. Thank you, James Cameron. I’m in the minority but I also enjoyed Robert Patrick’s naked ass, too.
Which leads us to even more inconsistencies with time-traveling robots. How do the T-1000 and T-X series time travel when they’re all polyalloys? Compounding the problem is the T-Infinity (if you read the Terminator comics), which carries a time machine (TDE) inside of it, so its trip back in time is not one-way. Tyson addressed that, too, sorta:
“If in that world, created for Terminator, if you want to go back in time, with a time machine, that you’d use again, the time machine’s not alive. So that would be a logical inconsistency with the program.”
None of this is as interesting as that time a Terminator accidentally blew up a speakeasy because he went 90 years too far back in time while trying to kill the Governor of California who infuriatingly wasn’t Arnold Schwarzenegger.
And now I’m mad (again) that Sarah Connor Chronicles was cancelled.