EDIT: I wrote yet another post about this film because I had forgotten about this one. I’m going to keep both up because I make some different points in each.
Please remember that there will be SPOILERS in this article. Instead of reviewing films I am talking about how I connect to them and what they mean to me and society at large.
I am a John Carpenter fangirl! He will always be my favourite horror/sci-fi director, and I have seen most if not all of his films. Even when he makes a supposedly ‘bad’ film, such as Escape From L.A., it is still entertaining. Honestly, I don’t think he makes bad films. I just think that he makes great films and others that aren’t as great but are still fun to watch. I will be talking quite a bit about his films on this blog…because they are nifty!
The plot of They Live is pretty basic. Alien creatures from some far off planet have colonized Earth, and have gotten themselves into positions of power by successfully disguising themselves as humans. They subliminally influence and control the population by hiding words in programs, ads, books, etc.. How do they do this without people being aware of their evil machinations? What looks like a regular billboard adverting jeans actually says such things as ‘buy’ ‘consume’ and ‘conform’. The only way that humans can see what is really going on is by wearing some sunglasses that shows the world in black and white; the advertisement messages and the aliens out in the open. The sunglasses basically interrupt the signal that the aliens use to disguise themselves and their subliminal messaging. The good guys blow up the satellite that the signal comes from and then everybody sees life as it really is.
It is really obvious that They Live was meant to be a social-political statement against Reaganomics. Reaganomics was a ‘trickle down’ type political theory that stated the following; if the wealthy class of people are given tax breaks the money that they have saved will eventually reach the underclass. It was been proven wrong again and again. What the wealthy do with the extra money are things such as buying back company stock shares, and buying mansions around the world that they actually really don’t need.
How did Reagan, and his cronies, fool the middle class and underclass? They promoted conspicuous consumption as something good that everybody should do to help the economy. Want a new car but don’t have the cash to pay for it? That’s okay, just take out a loan with interest levels so high that you will never actually own the car. Who cares though! You are driving a newer car and people are noticing! That is what was so important in the 80’s, to be seen following trends no matter how ridiculous said trends were.
What happened in the 80’s if you did not conform along with everybody else? You were thought of as strange, that something must be really wrong with you to not want to be like everybody else. So, if you looked different or listened to non-mainstream type music you would be confronted all the time. Other people listen to Wham and wear neon coloured clothes, why can’t you? No matter what answers you gave to these type of people they would never be satisfied because wanting to be different in a largely conformist society is just not done. You become the ‘other’, a type of person who doesn’t deserve to be treated well because how dare you flaunt your nonconformist ways. Often you would even be physically threatened or have things thrown at you when you are just minding you own business walking down a street. Quite often even in school you weren’t safe. I remember being sent to the ‘Student Responsibility Center’ one time in high school for verbally defending myself. The teacher who was in charge of watching us told me that I wouldn’t have so many issues if I just dressed normally. Yep, he victim blamed me.
For the record, in the 80’s conspicuous consumption and conformity was even done sometimes in the ‘alternative’ type communities. If you didn’t wear the right outfits or listen to the right bands you weren’t considered weird enough so you were banished to the bottom of the weirdo totem pole. So, not only did you get shit from the ‘normal’ people, you also got shit from others who thought they were better at being a ‘weirdo’ than you were. Instead of helping you learn about music,etc… they would hold the information out of your reach. You had to really be into ‘alternative’ type music and clothes back then to have survived all of that. I honestly don’t think that a lot of the younger folk into such music and clothes right now would have survived as a weirdo back then.
Does the society that They Live depicts seem eerily familiar even though it was made over thirty years ago? The lessons that John Carpenter wanted us to learn by watching the film have not been absorbed, and instead we are right back where we started from. Trump is yet another mentally deficient racist president who tells lies in order to hold onto the support of his fandom, who consist of mostly the white underclass. Trump is the greatest president that the world has ever known because they voted him into office and they could never be wrong, right?
What can you do to fight against such a society as the one we now live in? What has the film They Live taught us?
-Don’t buy crap you don’t need. You do not need to shop at certain stores or wear certain brands just because everybody else is. Also, we are in the midst of a global pandemic. Use some common sense and buy things that you actually need such as food.
-Question authority. Always question leaders and people that sit in a place of power as to why they do or say certain things. Just because they got voted in doesn’t mean that their opinion should be taken as the truth.
-In the wise words of the Subhumans, just think for yourself.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.