John Carpenter’s They Live is hauntingly familiar to the events that are occurring in the present-day with police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement, protests, riots and even the release of UFO videos from the United States government. We’re talking about a Horror/Sci-Fi film from 1988 that slipped the radar of too many people and stood the test of time over 30 years after its release. They Live starts with graffiti all over a cement wall underneath an overpass and we meet the film’s hero, a character named Nada who’s portrayed by pro-wrestler Roddy Piper who was at the height of his fame in the late eighties. Nada is a transient walking across train tracks onto the rain swept city streets. He goes to an employment agency looking for work only to be shot down. He drifts along, stumbling upon a construction site, and after a long hard day’s work, an African/American named Frank (Keith David) offers to take him to a homeless encampment shelter after Nada talked his way into the construction union gig by digging dirt all day. “He who has the gold makes the rule.” Frank says. Nada is a patient, something-will-come-up type of guy. Frank is a hard-nosed, rough-around-the-edges character who says things like, “Everyone’s out for themselves. You do what you can. But, remember, I’m gonna do my best to blow your ass away.” Frank reminds him of the dog-eat-dog mentality in the United States; for every promotion there’s a demotion; for every success a failure; for every winner, a loser.
The story progresses at a rapid pace, wasting no time with drama and getting right into the action. But, first, Nada stumbles upon a blind African/American street preacher who is hiding a special package inside the wall of his shelter. “Keep us asleep, keep us selfish, keep us sedated. They are dismantling the sleeping middle class. We are being bred for slavery.” He tells Nada. Suddenly, police brutality ensues when dozens of authorities infiltrate the homeless encampment. The police beat down and abuse homeless men of white skin and color. Nada returns to the shelter and finds the package hidden inside the wall. He opens it to find a box filled with black sunglasses. He thinks they’re counterfeit shades. He puts on one pair and hides the box behind a dumpster. He begins seeing things that aren’t there when he takes the glasses off. Billboards that advertise vacations with “Come to the Caribbean” really say “Marry and Reproduce”. Storefront signs that read “Closeout Sale” really mean “Consume”. With the glasses on, all Nada sees are signs that read “No thought, Stay asleep, Submit, Work 8 hours, Sleep 8 hours, Play 8 hours.” When he sees cash money, it doesn’t read “In God we Trust” but rather “This is your god.” Until he finally begins seeing Aliens when he wears the glasses, then takes them off to see the alien disguised as a normal person going about their day. Nada uncovers the reality that these sunglasses have woken him up to the fact that Aliens have taken over Earth. Nada sees the President give a speech on TV and realizes that even he’s an Alien.
But, of course, all profound subliminal messages aside, the fun and games portion of this film begins with Action and Adventure as Nada disarms two cops who are Aliens and kills them. He steals their weapons and shotguns. “I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I’m all out of bubble gum.” Nada says, after walking into a bank, then shooting all the Aliens because “Momma don’t like tattle tails.” He crosses paths with an unmarried businesswoman, Holly (Meg Foster) who takes him to her home. After a statewide hunt is launched to track down Nada, from the Police (aliens) and the government (aliens), he attempts to convince Frank of the power of the glasses by asking him to try them on. Frank stubborn behavior spawns one of the most epic street fights in a back alley with Nada that seems to last the length of a pro-wresting match. Nada attempts to explain to Frank that televisions send signals that are transmitted to our brains and that Aliens are here on earth to create indifference in humans to conquer the planet. “There’s no more countries anymore. They’re runnin’ the planet.” Nada says. The two of them realize that they’re not alone, and that there’s a group meeting underground, for visionary upgrades from sunglasses to contact lenses. At the meeting, there’s a speech the proclaims “It’s projected by the year 2025, the American society will be controlled by the human power elite.” This film was way ahead of its time in terms of the messages it attempted to send to audiences. Being released in 1988, it contains scenes that are hauntingly familiar to the present-day in 2020 with the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality.
Behind its surface that’s heavy with cool action sequences a viewer will find that the Sci-Fi/Horror elements of John Carpenter’s cult-classic serves as a vehicle to express a subliminal message being sent: mass media control. The film expresses that humanity is being brain washed because we’re told to go to work 40 hours per week, sleep 56 hours per week, and play on weekends for 16 hours per week. Rinse, recycle, repeat. No independent thought. Do not question authority. The elite powers that be, want us to keep working so that we cannot come up with creative solutions to societies problems and change the system that have intentionally put into play. Not just the United States of America, but the entire planet. The USA is merely a large piece of the puzzle. Part of the main reason why there are mass protests, riots and looting going on around the nation in 2020 is because people are at home and unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Citizens are not preoccupied with work, entertainment and sports since almost everything is shutdown.
John Carpenter’s They Live in 1988 serves as a metaphor that couldn’t be closer to the truth. From what we’ve been seeing on the new with police brutality and the use of violence in protests in comparison to the same exact way the cops in They Live move about, infiltrating civilians who push the boundaries and status quo. The more preoccupied we are with work and entertainment, the less we’re able to conduct critical thinking that has the power to evoke a change in the system, which allows the global elite to maintain their hidden agenda. The aliens in They Live want society to consume. To obey. To submit. To give up control. They don’t want people to have independent thought, they want people to watch the news, and pretend to have opinions based on the views that they’re fed from any given media outlet. The busier the human mind is with consistent work, the less time it has to think independently, because we need to sleep and wake up and do it all over again. We operate off momentum. It takes a pandemic, shelter-in-place and quarantine for the world to take its first steps toward a change.
They Live is a cult-classic from the late eighties that didn’t garner much attention upon its release. If we revisit this film in 2020, it might make us take a step back while squinting our eyes. Systemic racism exists not only through police brutality, abuse and misuse of power, but through the consciousness of Caucasian men and women, whether they’re aware of it or not. There are far too many white folks with Irish, English and German ancestry who have inadvertently neglected to realize, either through ignorance or absentmindedness, that they are children of immigrants. Every single person living in America has an ancestor who was an immigrant. The United States of America was built off immigrants and in many cases are being operated by immigrants, and yet, there’s imbeciles brainwashed with moronic views of ‘white supremacy’. These are issues that must be changed with news laws, but the concept of consumption and independent thought isn’t something that can necessarily be handed to the masses of millions of young and inexperienced citizens. The United States of America is still the greatest country in the world despite all of its problems. And no matter what, we will all get back to work because it’s our duty. Not merely for our country, but for our own livelihood. For our families. That’s why we do it. For our loved ones.