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Discussion in 'Mayberry Lounge' started by shadow_priest_x, Mar 15, 2017.
If you really want to, I'm sure it could be arranged. . .
Agreed, in this day and age it kind of takes on a life of its own.
I started my post on Thursday then got distracted and was too busy to finish it until today.
We often hear about the American dream, but this (punk as fuck) movie is about the American nightmare. Roddy Rod Piper plays Nada, the hard-working blue collar American that has nothing to show for it...
The whole movie is one big analogy. It's the story of class war, of wage slavery, of a corrupt system being used to exploit the masses.
The aliens represent the big money power-players that control the media, economy, and political system. And the resistance group is analogous of radical political groups like the Black Panthers, communists, hippies, anarchists, punks, thugs, squatters... Basically any group that challenges the current political system (in America) The issues are real, the depictions are accurate. It was just changed into a sci-fi story because the movie was funded by capitalists.
The movie starts with some nice blues music, and footage of Roddy walking by the train tracks, with his backpack. A picture says a thousand words... and the music says another thousand more... Roddy Piper (Nada) is representative of the down-trodden honest hard-working man, that society left behind... the sky is grey, billowing smokestacks can be seen on the horizon... along with skyscrapers. He's come to the big city, looking for a new life.
Once he reaches the polluted city, you can no longer see the sky, only reflections to remind one that there is a sun...
He has to warm himself on steam (rising from the subway) as bleak characters march on miserably in the background. The city is cold and dark, literally and figuratively.
So much information has already been conveyed, without any dialogue...and the opening credits are still rolling...
Nada goes to the job bank, and a handicapped man in a wheelchair rolls by shaking his head in disgust/disappointment...
The first line of dialogue is Nada explaining how he lost his job (after ten years) and there's no more work. So we know he's hard-working, he didn't let himself down, the system let him down.
They lost 14 banks in one week... so it's not just the politicians, it's the bankers, and the economic system being blamed for the poverty by John Carpenter here.
The street-preacher, speaking in the park (with a crowd) shows us that the problem is city wide, and the people are looking for answers. Answers which they're not getting from their leaders or the media.
Nada sees a woman on the tv, lost in her own selfish ways, talking about her dreams of being adored, loved and famous. About never growing old or dying... she's symbolic of the kind of shallow, empty-hearted selfish American that the media try to churn out. The ideal consumer, one that's patriotic, selfish, self-centered, vapid, insecure and stupid... and proud of it.
Police choppers fly overheard... a hint at why everyone on the street seems so defeated, they have no money, no say, no power...
He goes to a construction site to look for a job, but it's a unionized site... can't escape politics. But he gets the job still.
His foreman is cold-hearted, telling Nada to take his homeless ass of the site for the night... liability. The foreman has to protect the builders investment.
Frank (Keith David) takes him to a tent city. (When squatters are evicted they form tent cities, which are always bulldozed and raided by swat teams (late at night) just like in the movie.)
I love the dialogue, the movie is filled with great quotes, such as: "the golden rule, he who has the gold makes the rules"
Frank talks about vandalizing fancy cars as a means of retaliation. He speaks of the evils of capaitalism, how capitalism pits us all against each other. How it's anti-community. The tent city isn't just representative of homeless people, they're all families and good hard-working people hit hard by the economic recession, which was caused by greedy bankers and a corrupt boom-bust-cycle system.
Frank, Nada, the hackers, they're good honest (but frustrated) people, they don't want to have to worry about politics and corruption, but they're treated like criminals and/or terrorists just for trying to change things, through peaceful means. They weren't always radical, they're just frustrated people with no voice or options... this is all a realistic portrayal of why people turn to radical politics, and how they're treated. There was a somewhat popular homeless rights advocacy group in Toronto called OCAP. They had the support of the teachers union, and many other respectable groups. The leader was arrested and detained at the border (while trying to attend the G8 protest in Seattle) he was questioned on the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden... the government (literally) considers people that oppose their system to be terrorists and they assume all that oppose them are working together... it's insane.
Nada and Frank were forced into it but the masses behaviour is explained in this quote "They have made us indifferent, we are focused only on our own gain"
How true that is...
Even the other homeless people in the tent city don't take the hacker seriously, despite realizing how much time they must've invested into learning how to do that .They change the channel to a show about destruction.
They live, we sleep...
The way the cops came to raid the church. I'll spare you the stories but the police have been raiding and spying on non-capitalist groups since these kinds of groups have existed.
This story isn't unique to Nada, it's the story of resistance groups and homeless people.
Even the glasses were just symbolic of Nada's radical political awakening. Once you can see through the deception you look at magazines, billboards, tv, the radios and even people differently. The lady that set Nada off on the store was rude, she was indicative of selfish capitalist behaviour.
Nada goes into the store, after he gets the glasses and sees a politician on the tv giving a speech. promising a bright new tomorrow, telling the masses that there's no need for pessimism, everybody should just be happy, obey, consume, work, and sleep. Be patriotic, support your country, government and system. "it boils down to our ability to accept"
That's clearly a jab at politicians and the media, brainwashing people, or trying to.
When the aliens (who represent the system) start talking into their watches saying "we've got one", This is symbolic of the communist witch hunts, which has been brought back as "if you see suspicious activity, report it". Turning us against each other, or as the message on one of the magazines said "doubt humanity"
Next he gets stopped and harassed by the police, for wearing the glasses. This is analogous of cops harassing people for wearing a hoodie, or dressing like a punk, or a biker, or a thug. It's commentary on profiling. Even though the cops had reports about him, the first thing they ask is where did you get this sunglasses, not were you just in this store...
Drone surveillance cameras illustrating the police state.
The next stage of the movie deals with "enlightened" Nada, who society views as crazy. He can't get anyone to try on the glasses. This is why one of the magazines says "no independent thought"
Anything that hasn't been covered by the tv or mainstream media is considered to be either taboo or crazy. Just mention an idea that's counter to what's taught and people start talking about tinfoil hats.
They use a watch to open a porthole to the underground city where they stumble across a meeting of the "power-alliance"
Much like wearing a Rolex might show that you're on team capitalism in real life.
The aliens want help with some multi-dimensional thing ... in exchange for making the elite rich. This is just an analogy for mutually advantageous marriage between business big business/billionaires and the government.
As far fetched as it all sounds are our leaders that much different from foreign conquering aliens? They control us, they brainwash us, they lie to us, keep us in the dark, make us work for them, serve them in their quest for power.
Is the end goal of the American government not to find a new planet where the super rich and elite can go live in peace while we all toil for the scraps on earth and serve them? They might as well be be aliens.
It's all a bit ridiculous how everything falls into place for the story to move along so quickly. The watch the porthole, the guided tour, etc. But at the same time the story is pretty brilliant and Its even entertaining to those who don't get all the analogies.
The happy ending was typical of Hollywood. If only it were that simple. But apart from that )and the over-rated fight scene) it's an absolutely brilliant movie.
I made a similar comment about the ending being too Hollywood. But upon further reflection it's probably symbolic of the "one wrench can break the machine" mentality.
In fact that's one of the great myths that's been pumped into our head. "I'm only one man, what can I do?"
Hitler, Christopher Columbus, Gandhi, Bin Laden, Rosa Parks, Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Emiliano Zapata... one person can change the world
Carpenter and Kurt Russell have openly talked about their politics together. Russell is a libertarian and Carpenter has some similar beliefs but said he's more liberal. He cited liking Ron Paul and a congressman with a Jewish sounding name from California some years back (within the last ten), as doing good work in government. I think he would be the type to like both Paul anjd Ralph Nader who are essentially the representatives of the right and left that best represent freedom and the rights of the people.
Carpenter's influence from westerns growing up shows in his anti-authoritarian style. He has an open disdain for the Hollywood studio system and has shown a disdain with politicians predating They Live in Escape from New York when Donald Pleasence's president was getting his makeup done before going on camera near the end of the film and barely paid any mind to thanking those that sacrificed their lives for him and his tape. The yuppie and Wall Street boom in the 80's only exacerbated a disdain for things he already had predating that era.
He's a laid back guy, so he never gets too emotional, but he knows that everything that he criticized about government, corporations, yuppies, the surveillance state, and the consumer lifestyle in the 80's is far worse today, he just realized that was the direction the world was headed in and has the attitude of "I told you guys".
I love the film, and it holds a special place in my heart because Piper reminds me so much of my dad in it, both his look and attitude.
it involves knee pads though....
That's a question that everyone who takes the issue seriously struggles with.
When I started to really get into politics I was working in a mailroom and I could do my days work (sorting and delivering mail) in about an hour, so I had 6-7 hours a day to read.
Every day I would pick a few news stories that interest me and then read the same story from every outlet that covered it. I quickly noticed that major difference between the independent media sites and the mainstream ones were omissions of information. The independent media sites would always report both sides of the story, they didn't pretend to know the truth, they just said what Al Jazeera reported and then what the mainstream American sites reported. Without fail every mainstream American site was giving their readers only only one side of the story, or they were slanting the numbers grossly. NGO's that were in the area would sometimes report the stories with photo evidence, and the damages (from the bombs in Iraq or Afghanistan etc) were always much worse than the Americans claimed. Al Jazeera exaggerated too, but their figures were much closer to being accurate than the American figures.
So I started to read more from the independent news sites and I learned about Steve Wilson and Jane Akre.
They were both fired and FOX refused to let the story air. Monsanto threatened to stop advertising their products on FOX networks. The news is slanted to serve the needs of those who advertise through FOX (or any major network)
So motivation becomes the issue. Where do you find an honest source that's intelligent and professional?
Through listening to punk music I learned of Noam Chomsky and from there I discovered Z magazine: https://zcomm.org/zmag/
Noam Chomsky is a staunch critic of the New York Times, yet the New York Times called Noam Chomsky "arguably, the most important intellectual alive" ... when your enemies say that about you, that says a ton about your integrity. Chomsky writes for Z magazine (pretty much for free) and he endorses all their authors, whom are friends of his.
Z magazine is a non-profit group, and they survive solely off of members sponsorships. The writers don't get paid much at all but that's not why they do it and they're almost all University professors or successful authors in their own rights (through independent book publishers)
The authors have no need to lie, they can speak freely on the subjects of their own choosing, but they're academics so they approach researching the subject with the utmost of professionalism. Noam Chomsky and Z magazine are about as trustworthy a source as you're going to get.
Chomsky and his group of like-minded friends have done a ton of work to uncover the connections between big business and the media.
John Pilger is another great source. He's a former BBC award winning reporter, that makes documentaries. He goes to the dangerous hot spots and seeks out the news for himself. He was in Cambodia speaking to the Khmer rouge soldiers a week after the war ended. He goes and shows you the news for yourself, first hand, and John is just one of those guys that doesn't give a damn who he's upsetting, he's going to show you the truth. He funds the documentaries himself with the money he makes as a mainstream journalist, and he covers the stories they won't on his own dime.
Pilger produced the documentary "the War on Democracy" that I nominated during my last round. He shows you the actual footage of CIA operatives shooting crowds of Chavez supporters (to get them to open fire on the crowds of their opposition in retaliation), then he shows you the mainstream media coverage calling Chavez a terrorist and demonizing him. Then he interviews Chavez himself. He even tries to interview the right-wing Guerillas that illegally overthrew Chavez with CIA support.
I'm actually kind of surprised this is the first time I've seen They Live....frankly. I've seen so much of this film in meme's or references from other movies/tvshows that I kept thinking "have I watched this before?" but I havent really...kind of wierd in a way.
THAT being said...I dug this movie alot, was campy 80's sci-fi fun!
Roddy Piper is kind of a running theme in the SMC. Its kind of a sad tale his...from breaking down watching The Wrestler, to watching a movie where he was basically in his prime as a star...and he actually held his own really fucking well! Considering he was alongside Keith David who was coming off The Thing...Pretty impressive for a WWF star! But I mean the guy had a natural charisma for the macho tough guy role.
If anyone watches Always Sunny, you'll know that Roddy isn't some one-line guy, the guy had some pretty decent acting chops. Shame he died so young.
The few gripes I have with this movie are that
1. with this movie is that it just ends sooooo abruptly....it honestly seemed like the movie is just wrapped up perfectly in 15 minutes. from the portal to the alien lair with all the "collaborators" to Roddy givin the aliens the finger.
2. the movie doesn't have a lead villain when it could have used one. Roddy flips off random alien henchman helicopter pilot as a last "fuck you" to the system thats bringing everyone down...the only person he kills is crazy-eye-meg-turner
Not the best movie I've watched in the SMC, but its certainly enjoyable and would definitely be on my re-watch list
Way better than I thought it would be. 8.5/10
One of the things that has changed is that they are not telling us to reproduce. They are telling us to do the opposite.
Damn, now that's the kind of job I'd like to have!
Independent sites like what exactly?
Damn, that's pretty crazy. But at the same time I'm not surprised.
I have a little personal story that taught me a lot about how the media works. A while back I took a journalism class at the local community college and ended up being hired as a staff writer for the school paper. While I was there, a guy wanted to do a negative story on a local bookstore that sold textbooks--I can't remember what the angle was, but it was something that didn't make them look good--but the Editor in Chief told him he couldn't write the story because the bookstore was one of their top advertisers.
I was shocked. Here we are, constantly being told in class that we're supposed to be objective and doggedly chase down the truth, and they're not going to run a story because of advertising. That opened my eyes in a big way.
Cool, thanks for the info. I'll have to look more into all of this.
I can see where you're coming from, but I actually liked that. It's a snappy, fast-paced film without a lot of downtime. And at just over 90 minutes, I feel like it gets in, punches hard, and gets out before it wears out its welcome.
I actually have noticed lately that I have really come to appreciate the ~90 minute film. A lot of movies have too many sequences where the film starts to drag. But when you only have 90 minutes to tell a story, you have to make sure that each scene counts.
Yeah, there's not a traditional "big bad" but I actually liked that in this one. Why? Because it illustrates the point that the enemy really is THE SYSTEM. It's not some individual at the top, it's the whole fucking thing. Powerful people come and go, but the system remains.
How so? Care to elaborate?
I dreaded watching this at first. It is very rare that I like horror films and I do not like big time wrestling. I was surprised by the deeper meaning of the film.
I think the film would have had more success in 1988 if it was just more of a typical horror film. The film had a fairly slow start, also.
Well thank God it wasn't. What we got instead is far more interesting.
all good points. I appreciate the 90 minute fun movie too, maybe because I love the whole concept behind this movie including the leads that it felt almost like there was some wasted potential here. Like Roddy Piper walking aorund wearing glasses and telling people to fuck off could've provided some great "rebel against the system" scenes, the ones we got were hilarious, shame there weren't more!
And yah I guess it was just lame seeing Piper die to the system
Yeah, it's funny you mention that because someone earlier referred to the "happy ending"--I think maybe it was @BeardotheWeirdo?--and I was like, "Well, I mean both of our heroes are dead by the end so I'm not sure how fucking happy that is. . ."
Carpenter's deliberate, surgical eye for conflict and its escalation is a fucking marvel in They Live. It's a true 80s middle-finger thriller. The back and forth strolls to the church, the constant police sightings, and the nervous glances aimed towards the bright blue sky in fear of helicopters shows Carpenter's masterful talent of building up an unknown force; a presence that feeds on the terror and vulnerability of those awake in the face of mass control. Each scene is flawlessly executed, and while other directors may have gone for a more ambitious approach, this magnificent son of a bitch happily builds a small but detailed world and peppers plot progression within it. Take, for instance, Piper's first experience with the special glasses. On, then off. On, then off. On, then off. New information is revealed with each swipe of the shades, only to culminate in his first sighting of one of the aliens, shown in full black and white glory *after* the "man" was just seen previously in profile. It's scored to another brilliant Carpenter pulse, simple riffs repeating for eternity. Piper's line about how he "believes in America" is beautiful but eerie when you know the outcome of the story. The street fight between Piper & Keith David was fucking brutal & hilarious. It's all over Keith David's stubborn refusal to do something as simple as try on a pair of glasses. I'm so happy this movie exists. Carpenter is the man.
Correct. That was me, but I said "Hollywood ending" not "happy ending"
By which I meant, the good guys won, they destroyed the systems means of brainwashing people and exposed the truth to the masses.
Two blue collar workers destroying the system by themselves... it wasn't too realistic in that sense.
Cool story, thanks for sharing.
Pretty much every job I've had, you get taught the proper way, and then later get taught the way things are really done.
Indy media I found to be the most honest. They always include info that the mainstream sources would omit.
BBC seems to be the most open of the mainstream news outlets.