"They Live" was the most subversive movie made in Hollywood in the 1980s. Heck, John Carpenter's magnum opus may be the most subversive movie Hollywood has ever made. Part science fiction film, part horror movie and part dark comedy, the sum of "They Live" adds up to the most single most egregiously overlooked movie of the Reagan era. And why not? It was the single most prescient prediction of what the politics of the moment could lead to.
Here we are a few decades later and the dialogue from "They Live" seem the most appropriate lines from any movie ever made in relation to the current Presidential election. Consider these words spoken during a meeting of the aliens who are the bad guys of the movie and just close your eyes and picture instead Mitt Romney speaking a room filled with super rich campaign donors:
"The gains have been substantial for us and for you, the human power-elite. You have given us the resources we need for our expansion. In return, the per-capita income of each of you has grown. This year alone, it's an average of 39%."
Seriously, the only thing missing from that little speech is a complaint about the 47% of humans who aren't contributing to the capitalist exploitation of themselves in the name of raising the standard of living for the wealthiest 1% of the population.
"They Live" is about the unmasking and unmaking of a corporate takeover of the planet by alien invaders who speak a language and engage in actions that cannot help but make you think maybe they are already here. Ever wonder why some people steadfastly refute the idea that the planet is warming up despite a wealth of irrefutable evidence that average temperatures have been steadily increasing for the last few decades?
"Fluorocarbons and methane have increased since 1958. Earth is being acclimatized."
Just a crazy movie, right? Nothing but science fiction eggheaded hogwash. Horror movie hokum. And yet there are politicians making decisions that will affect you for the rest of your life and your children's lives and the planet's life. These people are spending millions of dollars and putting in thousands of man-hours to make sure that America votes to power those who will enact legislation designed specifically to create laws that endangers their own health and the future health of their offspring. Why go to such extreme measures to work so hard to legislate against the single most evolutionarily essential self-interest we have: our health?
"They Live" proposes one answer. Those who are poisoning the world and natural resources we depend upon to not only keep us healthy but keep us alive are not human. They can afford to make the planet less safe to live on.
"They are turning our atmosphere into their atmosphere. We are like a natural resource to them. Deplete the planet and move on to another. We could be pets. We could be food. But all we really are is livestock."
The alien beings already populating the globe in a way invisible to humans who don't have access to special sunglasses that reveal the truth the ones guiding the direction of the human race. The movie makes it clear that human beings are not aware en mass of what is going on and some are easily duped into becoming willing accomplices through the reward of consumer contentment. "They Live" proposes a dark, cynical corner of America in which even those who have access to the sunglasses and clearly see what is taking place are susceptible to the tantalizing bribery of a good life.
Surely you would not be one of them. You have not been lulled into a trance. Your consciousness has not been annihilated through redirection by the powerful elite away from real issues affecting you and onto trivial matters. Obviously, you have not been sedated into a cocoon of selfishness in which a bad call by a football referee upsets you more than the near-unanimous passage of a law by Congress that strips away your constitutional rights against illegal search and seizure.
Surely, given the sunglasses, you would be join the democratic resistance.
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