welcome to the abyss

Tag: Sci-Fi

Film Conversations: They Live (1988)

They…are everywhere and are trying to control us!

EDIT: Just noticed that I actually wrote about this film earlier so I guess this would be a part 2? That must mean I really like it.LOL

Before I get started talking about this film I want to let my new readers know that I don’t do strict film reviews. I like to talk about the social ramifications of films, what they can teach us and how they fit into our current dystopian hellscape. There will be SPOILERS.

I am a John Carpenter fangirl who loves his films and his music. With that being said this is my all time favourite film of his, because I feel like it actually ‘gets’ me. It takes a very sharp look at capitalistic consumer culture and what it does to a society who lets it take control of their lives.

This is not a very complex film, in either message or tone. A group of people living in poverty learns that the world around them is being controlled by Aliens who, through the use of subliminal messaging, bombard them with words such as obey, sleep and reproduce. When you think about it it’s an ingenious way for an alien species to invade Earth. Instead of having a military battle, in which many lives would be lost, they slowly tighten their grip upon society until people are so brainwashed they they really don’t care what is going on. If they can buy their new car, pop out a baby, and stuff themselves with food then everything is fine.

I was a teenager in the 80’s when this film came out and to say that the 80’s was a decade of conspicuous consumption is an understatement. If you were poor in any part of that decade you were made to feel like you were totally crap for not having the nice shiny things that everybody else had. Yes, this has happened throughout history, however it really peaked during that decade. I remember once wanting a pegged legged type of jeans and the only pair I could find were by Guess. As soon as I got home I ripped the label on the back pocket off. When I wore them to school people were asking me why I ripped the label off. No joke, people were befuddled as to why I didn’t want to wear clothes with blatant labels. I didn’t want to be in the part of society that worshipped brand names like they were gods.

A face that even a mother couldn’t love.

The downtrodden rebel group in the film start making sunglasses that allow people to see what is really going on around them. When worn you not only can see the subluminal messages, you can also see what the aliens really look like. The aliens have disguises that allow them to look human and they are everywhere; bank tellers, politicians, policemen,etc… They have infiltrated into every facet of life in a capitalistic consumerist based society, and their presence assures that things will stay exactly the same. People in the society are so conditioned not to question authority that when offered the sunglasses they will fight to the death rather than accept the chance to see what is really going on.

The themes in this film still hold true today. A whole segment of society will believe whatever they are told without question, and if somebody has a worse life than them it’s their own fault for not pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. Since these people don’t have the money to buy nice shiny things then they should be forgotten. In this film people actually sell out and turn on their fellow humans because the aliens promise to make them wealthy for doing so. Gaining wealth is so important in that society, and in this one, that people will do anything to achieve it.

The 80’s was a very wealth obsessed decade, but with the advent of the internet new ways to perpetuate this line of thinking have come to fruition. ‘Influencers’ on social media perpetuate all of this. They basically want to be famous for not having any sort of talent, other than getting others to buy the products that they are promoting. They are capitalist consumer conmen. They promote products to their wide eyed audience as if they too can be an influencer someday if they also buy the product. Aspiring to be an influencer is seen as an actual career path by some of these people. Why go to school when you can get cash and free shiny things while having no discernable talent? Remember folks, acquiring shiny things makes you a vital part of society and better than those who don’t have them. The aliens in this film would be very happy about this state of affairs.

John Carpenter has stated that he made They Live as a statement against Reaganomics. He saw the American middle class being harmed by economic policies that only helped the wealthy and felt that he had to say something against that. What he ended up making is now considered to be a cult classic, a film that is as relevant today as it was over thirty years ago.

Just Discovered This Cool Sci-Fi Channel Called Dust

The short called Alone, which really got me hooked.

Sorry I have been gone from here for a few days. A combination of it being cold as hell and constantly watching Dust have led me astray.

As you can tell from this blog I am a huge post-apocalyptic/dystopian film fan. So, imagine my excitement when I finally found out about a YouTube channel called Dust that shows two new sci-fi themed shorts a week. A lot of them are post-apocalypse and dystopian themed which is cool as hell! They have been doing this for a few years now so I feel incredibly out of touch. Like I’m an astronaut stuck on an alien planet with no form of outside communication.

The majority of the shorts I have watched so far have been quite good. If you are a sci-fi fan I think you will enjoy this because no matter how picky you are you will find shorts that are really entertaining.

The Twilight Zone Chronicles: To Serve Man (1962)

We come in peace…maybe.

I love the original Twilight Zone television series, so I have decided to start a series of posts in which I discuss why I like particular episodes and what is the deeper meaning that lies within them. Since this is not strictly a review series of articles there will be SPOILERS ahead.

To Serve Man is my all time favourite Twilight Zone episode hands down. It was the 24th episode of the third season that first aired on March 2nd 1962.

Rather than starting at the beginning of the story we see what is to happen at its conclusion. A man is being held captive in what looks like a sealed off room, a sort of jail cell. He refuses food, and we learn that he is in outer space after he asks the time and his captor answers that time is not kept in space. Why is he being held captive and where is the ship he is in taking him to?

The human inhabitants of Earth are fighting against each other, and are teetering on the edge of going to war yet again when multiple spacecrafts are first noticed heading in the direction of Earth. These aliens send a message telling us humans not to be afraid and that they come in peace. The UN in New York City comes together in council meetings and agrees to not attack these creatures who call themselves the Kanamit. They think it is better to hear them out, to give them a chance to explain themselves. After all if they wanted to hurt humans they wouldn’t have announced themselves. Right?

As the secretary general of the UN is announcing the ship landings at a press conference being shown worldwide a Kanamit walks onto the stage and talks in a telepathic manner to the UN and the world about their good intentions. They say that they have noticed the hostilities that Earth has been suffering so they come in peace, wanting to help us solve our problems. They say they will not force us to take their help, that we can decide what help we do or don’t want; affordable nuclear energy, growing nutrient filled crops and erecting forcefields to protect countries from hostilities with one another.

What is the catch to all of this? There really is no reason why a superior race that has space travel technology would travel far just to help a petty squabbling species save themselves from…..themselves. Logically one would think that there would have to be something in it for the Kanamit as well. The fact that all of the countries agree to not be overtly cautious about the Kanamit speaks volumes about the human species. We think that we are so superior to any other kind of species, on and off of Earth, that there is no way anybody would risk lying to us. It all comes down to the human species being very arrogant in its way of thinking.

The Kanamit leaves a book in his language behind after he departs, so it is given to a team of cryptographers. This team is lead by…the man named Chambers whom we met in the very beginning of this episode.

The governments as a whole eventually fully trust the Kanamit since their technologies have proven to be helpful, and they are found to be telling the truth when given lie detector tests. Right after this Patty, one of Chambers’ assistants, figures out the title of the book; To Serve Man. Because of all of this good information about the Kanamit coming out all of the countries get rid of their weapons and it is now a world of peace.

The Kanamit, whom all look alike, now invite humans to visit their planet for free of charge, as a sort of cultural exchange. Even though only a few thousand of the Kanamits have settled onto Earth, hundreds of thousands of humans decide to board the Kanamit ships and go to their alien world. Chambers also decides to visit and while he is waiting in line to board a ship the humans all around him talk about what their friends and relatives have written back to them about their current vacations. All of it sounds fantastical and very alluring, which puts Chambers who was a bit of a skeptic about the Kanamits, at ease.

As he is finally ascending the staircase a commotion towards the back of the crowd happens and Patty, with the Kanamit book held above her head, yells at Chambers telling him that the book is not a guide to help humans, but a cookbook on how to prepare humans for eating! Chambers tries to leave but he is forced onto the ship.

Again we find Chambers in his room, refusing food. Then he turns to the camera and tells us that no matter where we are, either on Earth or on the spaceship, we are pretty much screwed and our lives will all end the same, as a source of food. He then takes his tray and finally eats.

This episode is so powerful because the ending is just so twisted! Remember, this episode was made almost sixty years ago. All of the Earth versus alien films back then ended with the Earth vanquishing the enemy, because why wouldn’t they? Humanity was so advanced that no way could the aliens ever get one over on us! There are even a lot of current films, such as Independence Day, who still buy into this trope expecting us not to question how the humans won because we are more smart than mere aliens! Oh hell no.

I’m glad that the Kanamits got one over on us! As a species we treat the planet and each other horribly at a constant rate. If we ever travel into space why would our egos behave any differently? I guarantee that we would go to other inhabited planets, enslave any native sentient species, and take everything there for our own enrichment. I know that I sound jaded, but we really are that horrible.

So, maybe we will get lucky and some alien species will find us….for dinner.