Quick-Thoughts: John Carpenter’s They Live (1988)

Screened at The Alamo Drafthouse

“Wearing these glasses gets you high, but you come down hard.”

Probably the truest thing said in this movie. Sometimes I still do it, but for a while, I used to use the phrase “ok boomer” constantly like it was some programmed defense mechanism in me to instantly disregard and not process arguments against modern western culture, but honestly looking at the world today, the internet, especially in this TikTok / COVID era, is brainwashing us to sleep more than ever before, sedating us with less thought to comfort us into swifter dopamine consumption, and that’s how America has been accumulating as since its industrialization. But at the same time, you can’t deny, acknowledging reality – usually transpires when I happen to be more social outside of the internet – every once in a while gives you unparalleled jolts of freedom, and yet it becomes overwhelming at the same time for us to think when we’ve been mollycoddled to not most of our lives scrolling through the internet and allowing a highly regulated (by the media in terms of what’s popular and predominately broadcasted) screen to create your character and its beliefs. Not saying that the outside world doesn’t manipulate you like this as well, but by God, does the internet allow for it to happen far more.

John Carpenter discovers capitalism! Sure, the perspective on its mechanics is simplified here but the auteur is clearly having fun with it. From how I interpreted it though, I presumed that the aliens were the innately born rich + powerful humans and the aware humans were people who earned their wealth through giving into the corrupt system – i.e. sell-outs – but are obligated to not share the truth as it would decrease the power that they and the aliens hold. A cute “eat the rich” type narrative, but the ending is also trying to mimic an impossible dream. Maybe it’s time to accept the harsh reality or keep on pretending like it doesn’t exist. What’s worse? Being the invader? The bystander? Or believing you could be the hero against both? Carpenter probably thinks he’s the latter option, huh?

Also, that fist fight is amazing LOL.

Verdict B

John Carpenter Ranked

“They Live” is currently not available to stream on VOD.

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