This article was published on February 11, 2022

BMW’s Schwarzenegger Zeus has angered the Greek in me

BMW’s Super Bowl EV commercial is affront to the Hellenic Republic


BMW’s Schwarzenegger Zeus has angered the Greek in me
Ioanna Lykiardopoulou
Story by

Ioanna Lykiardopoulou

Ioanna is a writer at SHIFT. She likes the transition from old to modern, and she's all about shifting perspectives. Ioanna is a writer at SHIFT. She likes the transition from old to modern, and she's all about shifting perspectives.

What do BMW, the Greek god Zeus, and Arnold Schwarzenegger have in common? No, that’s not a fucking riddle, it’s an actual question. 

And the answer? A Super Bowl commercial. 

Yep, for this year’s game, BMW has dressed up the Terminator as Zeus to promote the automaker’s new EV: the iX

Zeus Schwarzenegger Super Bowl

Y’know, the god of lightning? Electricity? Clever, huh? Image: BMW

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The one-minute spot is called “Zeus and Hera” and takes us to, of course, Mount Olympus.

Still, America’s better than Greece and, eventually, the couple decides to retire in Palm Springs, California (Arnold’s fav place). 

But, folks, Zeus isn’t really enjoying the earthly life. He’s struggling with electronics and his neighbor’s constant nagging to charge everything

Hera, played by Salma Hayek, comes to the rescue and reignites (get it?) her husband’s excitement with a gift: the electric BMW iX. 

And they lived happily ever after, driving the car to the dulcet tones of Eddie Grant’s ‘Electric Avenue,’ while Zeus uses his electric power to change the traffic lights to green. 

Take a look at the video yourselves: 

 

Being Greek, this video hit a nerve. Not a big one, but one nonetheless. 

Look, I’m totally used to the cultural appropriation of Greek mythology in pop culture. Sometimes I find it annoying; at others it’s amusing. But before you call me biased, let me just say that I’ve watched the movie Troy three times so far — and I only love it more and more.

But to see Arnold Schwarzenegger as a car-loving Zeus? This, I don’t accept. And to have Hercules’ ferocious Pegasus called “Lil’ Peggy?” 

I simply CANNOT.

It’s not the inaccuracy that bothers me, nor the comedic slant of the video. It’s that the millions who’ll watch the ad during the Super Bowl will associate Zeus with either the Terminator, or with a downfallen god with an electrification fetish.

Well, actually, maybe that last one is kinda accurate. 

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not a pagan worshiper and I’m not personally offended. I just don’t think that a demystified materialistic representation of a mythological figure does much good for our cultural awareness. 

But the biggest kick in the teeth of all? That the promo building up to this advert made me believe that there was going to be a full-length movie with Arnie playing Zeus. That’s not the case. And it’s left me with a conundrum: what Ancient Greece-inspired film can I watch and complain about now?

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