portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary global

corporate dominance | media criticism | political theory

THEY LIVE

THEY LIVE (1988)
directed by John Carpenter
THEY LIVE
THEY LIVE
An economic crisis brings unemployed Nada (Roddy Piper) to L.A. in search of work. What he finds instead is that the ruling elite of the world are aliens in disguise, their aim being to keep humans in a state of mindless consumerism. His discovery comes when he dons a pair of special sunglasses made by a resistance group and sees for the first time reality unadorned. Billboards, store signs, magazine covers--all bear subliminal messages to OBEY, to CONSUME, to have NO INDEPENDENT THOUGHT. Money itself says THIS IS YOUR GOD. But worst of all, with these glasses you see which of us are really hideous, bug-eyed aliens.

The conceptual breakthrough is hilarious while keeping its roots in darker matters. Although some fault the film for settling into its action plot, the ending has a great payoff. And the direction by John Carpenter is handled with superb workmanlike aplomb. One unforgettable set piece has Piper in a back-alley fistfight with a friend who won't put on the glasses that goes on and on, and just when you think it's over it goes another round. One of the most subversive films ever made in Hollywood, They Live was released on the eve of the 1988 elections. The first TV ads had two hideous alien politicians debating, then one accusing the other of being "No John Kennedy!"
--Jim Gay [amazon.com review]

see also Internet Movie Database
 http://us.imdb.com/Title?0096256

homepage: homepage: http://us.imdb.com/Title?0096256

THEY LIVE 18.Nov.2002 18:51

twilight youth

...we sleep.

thanks for the post 18.Nov.2002 18:52

ms. le seur

This is a great flick--thanks for the reminder!

I concur 18.Nov.2002 19:08

LWV

Yes, a great movie. Wrapping subversion in an easily palatable form makes it go down easy.

"A real must see"

"two thumbs up"

SEMIOTICS INFORMED FLICK 18.Nov.2002 19:49

MFOUCAULT

Good flick. Carpenter actually studied European semiotics, which, as opposed to subliminal messages, the Freudian stripe which would corral language as "unconscious language" , is a non-cartesian, non-hegelian take on language.

Sassure, Eco, Foucault, Barth (Roland, not John), and Derrida, of course, the master. But arrogant/ignorant Americans don't read these "dense" "continental" semiotics, just as they don't read posstructuralism. Radical language politics in America lives in the same house as George Bush, it just lives in the cellar and stops with Chompsky, who is about as conservative as they get as far as preserving the individual subject against the specter of Nietzsche . Heard a good anecdote about Noam. He was giving a talk and said that English is the only language he knows of in which a double positive loqution doesn't make a negative.

"Ya, ya," said a heckler in the back of the room in a thick New York accent. He became so flustered he couldn't finish his speech.

Don't get me wrong. I like his rants against imperialism...he just needs to stay away from language, of which he knows nothing.

Chomsky doesn't know language? 18.Nov.2002 20:47

Chum

I think most of the world would disagree with your statement that Chomsky knows nothing of language. He's made quite a name for himself on that subject.

Sounds like a good flick 18.Nov.2002 20:55

GRINGO STARS gringo_stars@attbi.com

The sad part is that sensationalist author David Icke actually BELIEVES that a lizard-like race is on earth, disguised as humans (kinda like that lame old TV-mini-series *V*) and that most political elites are evil space aliens. He believes that LITERALLY (or claims to). But he is an author of a best-selling series of conspiracy books detailing the evil plot, so he's just trying to make $ome money.

This movie isn't an original idea - I've seen the exact same story in comic books in the 70s and 80s. But it sounds like a must see. I like when popular entertainment FORCES consumers into thought. Oliver Stone's movie JFK made a lot of people into activists, or so I've heard.

Then again, is this another way to marginalise the idea of a controlling elite? As in "Nah, the government wouldn't do that to us! You're sounding like that dumb sci-fi movie!"

I liked the X-Files but, in placing conspiracies within the context of space aliens and evil magic powers, it diverts attention from the what humans are naturally capable of, as if to say "only a non-human could do something that evil." which is not at all the case.

Here's another pertinent (Japanese) movie that sounds amazing. It's called BATTLE ROYALE, and I'll let this film review sum it up:


twilight youth 18.Nov.2002 21:54

''space alien'' conspiracies

Let me assure you that "space aliens" are well within the context of very real conspiracies. However I agree in your assertion that humans are not necessarily the "good guys".

who needs "evil aliens" with heroes like our military industrial government? Given the time and energy we could "out darth" Darth Vader!

The *REAL* Evil Empire 18.Nov.2002 23:08

GRINGO STARS gringo_stars@attbi.com

This pic says it ALL
The *REAL* Evil Empire
The *REAL* Evil Empire

GRINGO, that's not real 18.Nov.2002 23:22

LWV

it just isn't.

Is it supposed to be a mall or an airport?

don't feed the alligators 19.Nov.2002 00:57

jennifer garnish

go to davidicke.com
for the fantastic reptile/alien-illuminati-freemason-new world-order lowdown. Rowdy Roddy Piper Rules!

la

The US Stormtrooper IS real, sadly 19.Nov.2002 01:16

GRINGO STARS gringo_stars@attbi.com

There is a bizarre subculture of Star Wars fans who, much like the Trekkies who love Star Trek, LOVE to dress up like STORMTROOPERS. Why? I don't know. They were the BAD guys, fer chrissakes!

Many of them are real-life fascists, soldiers, cops, etc., who attend conventions to show off their uniforms. I assume the first pic I posted is at some hotel, and was the only "stormtrooper" I found online that decided to paint their costume red-white-and-blue. There is a particular "regiment" with their own USA-looking flag who do "charity" work, for the likes of McDonalds Corp and the like, indoctrinating our youth in how very glamorous it is to shoot guns, wear body armor, follow orders, and die for your country. Be very afraid.
The US Stormtrooper IS real, sadly
The US Stormtrooper IS real, sadly

Chomsky Knows what 19.Nov.2002 08:00

Dr. Szabo

"Don't get me wrong. I like his rants against imperialism...he just needs to stay away from language, of which he knows nothing."


Chomsky's Doctoral Degree is in linguistics, and every real award or accolade he's attained was in this field.

Many people would say that he knows nothing about forign or public policy, and in fact many in the academic community berate him for pursung his "hobby" with such vigor.

Personally I like to have the old crank around, at least he gprovides another angle to the debate, but I don't take him all that seriously as a political theorist.