How John Carpenter’s ‘They Live’ Warned Us About Subliminal Messages

Within the grand custom of The Twilight Zone, John Carpenter made science-fiction and horror motion pictures to look at the human situation. They Stay explored the affect of financial inequality and the manipulation of mass media by the elite. Utilizing a sci-fi atmosphere, Carpenter examined how individuals may very well be weak to subliminal messages and consumerism. They Stay is likely one of the nice cult motion pictures that has grown in appreciation.

John Carpenter and Kurt Russell | Picture by Emma McIntyre/Getty Photos for TCM

Based mostly on the quick story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” by Ray Nelson, They Stay stars the late skilled wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper as a drifter named Nada (Spanish for nothing). He finds a particular pair of sun shades that reveal some people are aliens making an attempt to take over the planet. When he stares at them, they appear like decomposed corpses. Carpenter wished the aliens to look humanoid, however not be human.

Ina 2015 interview with Yahoo News, Carpenter mentioned that They Stay is “a documentary. It’s not science-fiction.” Conceived throughout Reaganomics, the story examines a society obsessive about consumerism and greed. The villains are aliens from one other planet and represented the Reagan Republican authorities and grasping bankers of the 80s.

In line with Carpenter, it has solely gotten worse. “It’s morphed into something really bizarre. The same problem – unrestrained capitalism – still exists. Everything is built to make a profit.” 

Bombarded With subliminal messages in ‘They Live’

When Nada places on the particular sun shades, he’s bombarded with subliminal messages hidden inside the pages of magazines, on billboards, and in different types of commercial. Nothing is left to the creativeness when people are subliminally instructed to Eat, Obey, Purchase, Conform, Keep Asleep, Do Not Query Authority, No Impartial Thought, and Cash is Your God!

Carpenter created They Stay as a warning towards greed and propaganda. Whereas filming, Carpenter was stunned by individuals not noticing or taking note of the props with subliminal messages. As if it was regular. 

John Carpenter performing the theme for 'They Live'
John Carpenter | Picture by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Photos)

Are we in management of the environment? Or merely puppets?

They Stay is extra prescient than when launched within the late ’80s. The film punches the viewers with a mixture of gripping messages and over-the-top motion sequences. It makes you query what you’re really seeing whereas watching a prolonged battle sequence. The ’80s supplied many nice science-fiction and horror motion pictures that have been forward of their time.

Beneath all of it, They Stay poses questions nonetheless related in the present day. We obtain subliminal messages on our smartphones and different digital gadgets. Who controls what we see? Do the leaders of big companies get collectively for espresso or a spherical of golf and resolve what we devour? How can we take care of company greed, senseless consumerism, and mass media manipulation?

Has apathy and ignorance taken over our lives and allowed the state to regulate what we see and suppose? Are we influenced by politics and saved at the hours of darkness by some “programming”? Can we expect with a lot noise surrounding us, out and in of our houses? Within the phrases of Nada, “I came here to chew bubble gum and kick ass…and I’m all outta bubble gum.” Are all of us out of consciousness?



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