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Which clippings match 'They Live (1988)' keyword pg.1 of 1
21 NOVEMBER 2014

They Live: sunglasses reveal subliminal capitalist messages

"John Carpenter's They Live (1988), one of the neglected masterpieces of the Hollywood Left, is a true lesson in critique of ideology. It is the story of John Nada–Spanish for 'nothing'! –, a homeless laborer who finds work on a Los Angeles construction site, but has no place to stay. One of the workers, Frank Armitage, takes him to spend the night at a local shantytown. While being shown around that night, he notices some odd behavior at a small church across the street. Investigating it the next day, he accidentally stumbles on several more boxes hidden in a secret compartment in a wall, full of sunglasses. When he later puts on a pair of the glasses for the first time, he notices that a publicity billboard now simply displays the word 'OBEY,' while another billboard urges the viewer to 'MARRY AND REPRODUCE.' He also sees that paper money bears the words 'THIS IS YOUR GOD.' Additionally he soon discovers that many people are actually aliens who, when they realize he can see them for what they are, the police suddenly arrive. Nada escapes and returns to the construction site to talk over what he has discovered with Armitage, who is initially uninterested in his story. The two fight as Nada attempts to convince and then force him to put on the sunglasses. When he does, Armitage joins Nada and they get in contact with the group from the church, organizing resistance. At the group's meeting they learn that the alien's primary method of control is a signal being sent out on television, which is why the general public cannot see the aliens for what they are. In the final battle, after destroying the broadcasting antenna, Nada is mortally wounded; as his last dying act, he gives the aliens the finger. With the signal now missing, people are startled to find the aliens in their midst."

(Slavoj Zizek)

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TAGS

1988advertising billboardsalien invasion • alien occupation • broadcasting antenna • buy and obey • Cable 54 • capitalist ideologychurchconsumerism • contact lenses • control • critique of capitalism • critique of ideologycult filmcultural critique • drifter • dystopia • homeless labourer • Hooverville • ideology • John Carpenter • Keith David • kick ass and chew bubble gumLos Angelesmass mediamedia consumermedia consumption • Meg Foster • nameless drifter • passive consumptionpervasive advertisingpost-ideological society • prophetic • Roddy Piper • ruling class • satirical film • science fiction • shantytown • Slavoj Zizek • subliminal advertising • subliminal messages • sunglassesThe Perverts Guide to Ideology (2012)They Live (1988)threat • underground organisation • unmasked • watch television

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
20 NOVEMBER 2014

The Pervert's Guide to Ideology

"Starting from the provocative premise that political and commercial regimes regard us as 'subjects of pleasure', controlling us by offering us enjoyment, director Sophie Fiennes and charismatic philosopher Slavoj Žižek repeat the formula of their 2006 collaboration, The Pervert's Guide to Cinema.

The quirky, genial Žižek employs cleverly chosen clips from a huge variety of movies – including Brazil, M*A*S*H, The Sound of Music, and Brief Encounter – to illustrate his fascinating monologue, frequently appearing on sets and in costumes which replicate scenes from the films in question. For example, dressed as a chubbier, bearded Travis Bickle, he expounds the darker subtexts of Taxi Driver's plot from within the anti–hero's grotty apartment. This entertaining approach helps to ensure that what might otherwise have been a dense, even daunting intellectual challenge is actually an engaging and unexpected delight."

(The Institute of Contemporary Arts)

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TAGS

2012 • A Brief Encounter (1945) • anxieties • atheism • bloodbath • Brazil (1985)capitalism • catholicism • cinematic fantasies • consumerism • critical interpretation • critique of ideology • cultural critic • cultural critique • cultural theorist • daisy-chained improvisations • desire • dissident • documentary filmenculturation • enjoyment • Ethel Sheperd • fatigues • fears • flights of fancy • hegemonic discourseheroiconography • ideological message • ideological systems • ideologies • ideology • If (1968) • impulse of capitalism • Jaws (1975) • Kinder Eggs • Lucy Von Lonkhuy • MASH (1970) • NaziNazi GermanyNazi propaganda filmsnews footageOccupy Wall Street • Ode to Joy • prevailing ideologies • promise of fulfillment • propagandapsychoanalysis • psychoanalyst • psychoanalytic critic • pursuit of enjoyment • Rammstein • readable experience • rebel • Seconds (1966) • secret message • simple pleasures • Slavoj Zizek • Slovene • Slovenian • Sophie Fiennes • Soviet Russiasubconscioussubtext • tacit understanding • Taxi Driver (1976) • The Dark Knight (2008) • The Fall of Berlin (1950) • The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) • the otherThe Perverts Guide to Ideology (2012) • The Searchers (1956) • The Sound of Music (1965)They Live (1988) • Titanic (1997) • Triumph of the Will (1935) • unconscious desires • underdog • unseen depths • villain • violent outsider • West Side Story (1961) • Zabriskie Point (1970)

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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