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THEY LIVE: A Tightwad Nightmare Movie
Click here! You can get this movie for under $10.00!What's going on?
Did you ever get the sinking suspicion that ten percent of the world has a secret.. and YOU aren't included.  The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  Could this all be a massive consumer conspiracy?  They Live is a little known movie that explores the question of new age consumerism.  Considered a "cult classic", They Live is probably THE best of the early movies by sci-fi movie director John Carpenter. 

We've already been invaded!
Essentially, this forgotten 1988 movie begins it's story with a drifter arriving in Los Angeles to discover that our whole narcissistic yuppie society is secretly dominated by aliens who control everything with human disguises and subliminal advertising. This intriguing screenplay was secretly written by Carpenter as a satirical jab at the decadent 80's. The budget was just enough to fit the film, but the magic of this story is in the very real political satire of our "cannibalistic" consumer world.  Unlike other alien invasion movies, aliens aren't GOING to invade, they ALREADY DID and they've integrated themselves into everyday life!  After your eyes are opened, everything can be seen in a different light.  Subliminally printed on money is the message "This is your god", while billboards hide other hideous commands from the aliens. 

Alien conspiracies, flying fists, and funny lines
Science fiction movie fans rate They Live, a 4-star movie, but it runs a bit slow at first.  Even so, there's plenty of cheesy action to go around, since the star of the film is the professional wrestler, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper.  Meg Foster also stars as an alluring television traitor, who serves to underscore the film's message perfectly.  Piper's first big fight scene seems to last forever, but it matches the pace of the movie, which is underscored with a plodding base of blue jazz.  When fists aren't flying, Piper shoots out funny memorable lines like "I'm just here to chew bubble gum and kick A##!... Unfortunately, I'm all outta' bubble gum!"  The action picks up as soon as the aliens are uncovered and the alien control center is threatened.

Remove the aliens... And this movie is dead serious

What strikes me about this movie was the very real message of a borderless totalitarian world domination through consumerism.  As an indictment of the ominous trends portrayed in Fahrenheit 451, 1984, Brave New World, or Brazil, this movie will scare you to death.  As a venue for alien scapegoating, this sci-fi adventure will let you laugh at current social and political commentary.  The minute you remove the aliens and replace them with real people, this movie is dead serious.  Although the character's in this movie must wear special glasses to see the real world, for consumer's today, we must do the exact opposite.   We have to remove our "rose colored" glasses to prevent us from viewing the starving reality of our dog-eat-dog world environment.  The media is NOT real life, it is a break from real life.  Yet today's society is overwhelmed and drowned out by an ominous media presence.  For once, a movie reminds us of this great reality.  They Live is a giant metaphor for the evils of consumerism and the media.  It reminds us that the media of advertising and marketing are really hidden tools to manipulate your thoughts and concerns.  This movie might make you stop and think... Wake-up. Perhaps there ARE real and invisible forces at work propelling the world into a one-world society of totalitarian consumerism.  Will there be a time when people can not buy and sell without a mark on their arm or forehead, as predicted by the Book of Revelation in the New Testament?  Are huge corporations devouring our freedom to choose, with each company they swallow?  Are our private thoughts just a keystroke away from the nearest psycho hacker?  Is the morality of frugality a joke to be laughed at by the media elite? 

A wake-up call
The message that I received from this movie, was a wake-up call.  All of us know that our world is a stage for a great power play of thoughts and ideas, but do we remember that it's also a struggle of physical and spiritual proportions?  Perhaps it is our duty is to battle like the protagonist, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, and start forcing people to see the world for what it really is.  The message is, don't sell-out, but wake-up and abide in the truth.

e-mail comments to: RJames@tightwad.com
Commentary by Richard James, Copyright Imagex Associates 2000

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