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I have not seen or thought about TR in a while, but what interested me at the
time I saw it was the ways that it could be read as a fairly self-conscious
send-up of Arnie's film career in particular and the action genre in general.
I agree the exploration of the meaningfulness of virtual reality is a central
concern here. But, if we read much of the action as Arnie's implanted
 experiences, which is sold and outlined to us as "Blue Skies Over Mars" when he
 goes to
Total Recall and books his trip, then, we are watching the equvilent of a film
within a film. In that film, which represents the equvilent of the action flick
of the future, we see a hyperbolic version of the action film formula, included
exagerated acts of violents, extreme acts of racism and sexism, etc., all of
which are made irronic or placed in qoutes by the frame. I don't know if I
am making much sense or not.
 
--Henry Jenkins