Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Archive for January, 2015

They Live!

Posted by Garrett Hunt on January 30, 2015

As we began to watch “They Live!” I was preparing myself for a new horror experience, due to the fact that I new the director was the famous John Carpenter. However, I could tell within the first five to ten minutes of the movie that my expectations had been falsely placed. Not only did this movie open me up to a great piece of pop-culture, but it showed me another side of John Carpenter that isn’t suspense, horror, or gore. Most importantly though, is how this movie really shed some light on how frequently the things that are considered pop culture are affecting us not only here in the United States, but around the entire world as a whole.

“They Live!” I think, is a wonderful movie because it’s something that people at the time of its creation were able to relate to and still today in 2015 people are still able to relate to it. Personally I feel like people now can relate to it easier than the people of that movie’s own time. Even though there was significant exposure to pop culture in the 1980’s, comparing that to today’s society it would like comparing a person to a house. We are able to carry pop culture with us in our pockets every day and it is significantly more prevalent now that it ever has been before. Each year companies are spending an incredible amount of money on advertising among many other things considered pop culture. As a developing society I think it’s good that we have pieces of pop culture like “They Live!” that can address for us issues such as being unknowingly brainwashed by the things that companies and the media try to sell us, tangibly and intangibly.

See you all on Tuesday! – Garrett


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Posted by compositionjk on January 30, 2015

I’ll admit, while I do enjoy sci-fi, I’m not the biggest fan of speculative fiction. Works that fall within this genre tend to send me into periods of dark and paranoid thought. But, that’s the only way that these works will fulfill their ultimate purpose. If a movie like They Live! doesn’t make you question yourself and the world around you, it was a waste of everyone’s time. Many people would assume that the whole point of the work is to call “the powers that be” into question. The truer point, though, is to call yourself into question. What would you honestly do if you learned that alien invaders had infiltrated the government and were plotting to take over the world? Would you fight back like Nada, or would you submit like Holly?

Now look, the situation doesn’t have to be that drastic for you ask yourself how you would respond. Our almost constant interaction with pop culture is enough to pose these questions. When duck face was the norm in selfies, did you grudgingly follow the trend, or did you ensure that everyone knew how stupid you thought they looked? Were you Nada or Holly? This is why we started the semester with this movie. Even when you think you’re not contributing to pop culture, your inaction helps set trends and standards. They Live! was the first pair of sunglasses we’ll be receiving this Spring. We’re here to learn what’s really going on behind the scenes of the culture we help build everyday. So, fight for the world you really want to live in. I’m Jasmine Kennedy, and I’ll see you all Tuesday. Peace.

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They Live!

Posted by Jazzmyn N. A. on January 30, 2015

As I started to watch this film, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. For some reason I assumed that the movie was going to be action, which is was and that it had something to do with people around you in general. With my assumption, I was almost accurate with the main point of the movie. However, the summary of this film was different than what I thought. Also, for some strange reason I thought Nada was very odd but he ended up showing a lot of people the truth behind the everyday lives we think we’re living in that’s corrupt. I’m glad I got a chance to watch this film because it made me think more about the world we live in and the media that consumes people minds on a daily basis.

I actually didn’t understand what this movie was about until the guy found the glasses in the trash can and put them on. Whenever he had his glasses on, he saw what they call “Aliens” which represented how bad the government is in this world, but when he didn’t have his glasses on everyone seem nice and normal. In my opinion, this representation stated how we all think we’re living in this “good world” but don’t know our surroundings like we think we do. People were getting manipulated and influence by the mass media which is something that the world is really going though. Even though everyone was nice but didn’t looked that way with the glasses on, they were just ordinary people with their own secret lives.

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They Live!

Posted by karmstrong94 on January 30, 2015

After hearing the title of the movie I began to think about what the plot/story of the film would be. Needless to say what I thought the movie was about and what it really was about were two totally different things. Honestly, I was confused about what was going on from the begging of the movie until about half way through. Then I figured out that the people were actually aliens and that helped me figure out more of what was going on in the movie. I wasn’t expecting so many people to die. I thinks it is funny that people make jokes all the time that everyone in a movie ends up dying. The fact that basically every character that the audience is introduced to dies made me think of that joke. It is actually true sometimes especially for this movie. The aliens were representing people who were more “upper class” and are the more privileged group of people. The only way to tell that they are aliens is through special sunglasses. The movie overall after having seen the whole thing was different for me. I think I personally would consider this film to be more science fiction. I’m usually not into those kinds of movies, but this one definitely held my interest more than I thought it would. I think it is really cool that john carpenter is a western alum. I learned something new. Overall I liked this movie. I wouldn’t say it was my all-time favorite, but it was still really good and is relevant to our class.

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“They”, Live

Posted by willwalters441 on January 30, 2015

Hearing the title of the movie, my first impression was that it would be a concert video for a band called “They”. It didn’t take me very long to realize that this wasn’t the case.

The thing that stood out to me most about the movie was that it seemed like the main character was in the wrong one, like he had wandered over from the set of a movie being filmed next door. Aside from him, the rest of the movie is, if corny at times, a fairly serious look into class struggles and oppression in America, with the idea that the oppressive upper class is actually a different species, actively trying to undermine the rest of humanity – as it must have seemed to many in the 80’s. If played along this route, “They Live!” could have been an interesting speculative science fiction film with a topical political message.

Instead, we follow the main character in his quest to find the biggest gun he can, and the cheesiest one-liner to say while firing it at an alien. Instead of reacting in horror when he sees the President as a hideous life form, he dispenses the pithy, “Figures it’d be something like that.” Instead of joining with an underground resistance, he walks into a bank with a rifle and opens fire (saying, of course, the infamous bubblegum line). And instead of trying to persuade his friend to look through the glasses, he beats his friend mercilessly for what must have been twenty minutes. It almost seems like this character had seen far too many action movies, and was excited to finally be able to emulate them. Whatever the case, his exploits were by far the most interesting part of the movie for me.

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They Live!

Posted by kaleechism2018 on January 30, 2015

While watching the film They Live! I understood it as when they put on the sunglasses they saw how corrupted and unjust the government is. When they put on the glasses, they saw how people really are, not just how they pretend to be, and I think that this was meant to translate to be how them seeing people’s true intentions and if they were working for the greater good or not. I think that this was meant to portray how John Carpenter believed the government, or at least those in power, were abusing the power to make life better for themselves and abusing the power they have.

Another theme that I got from They Live! Is that it was meant to portray the class system. As you see most of the homeless, or lower class, people were still normal people when they were looked at through their glasses, while a majority of the higher class were not human when looked at in the glasses. This showed how the higher class usually only worked with their best interest at heart, and was basically using the lower class to work for them, “as cattle” which was mentioned in the movie.

The final theme I got from this movie was how technology was being used by the government inn order to keep the citizens in line. This was seen in the movie when the signal was going through their televisions to “keep the citizens asleep.” I think that this was put into the movie to show how John Carpenter believed that the government’s main concern is to keep the citizens from finding out how they were being used to make the upper class’s lives better. This relates to this class because many people still are concerned about the governments’ abuse of power and how the upper class has so much power over the other classes although they shouldn’t. These are concerns many people still have about the government and the class system, which is why I believe it applies to the class.

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Not What I Expected…

Posted by natkscience on January 30, 2015

I remember seeing ‘They Live’ on Netflix a while back but I purposefully skimmed passed it.   I assumed from the title, the cover art, and the fact that it was directed by John Carpenter, that this movie was just an eighties gore-fest horror movie.  I’m not really into movies whose main focus of entertainment is blood and guts.  But that wasn’t necessarily the case for this movie and I was glad for the opportunity to see it in full.  I love a good science fiction movie that forces its viewers to critically reflect on the world around them.  One of my favorite aspects of the plot was when the television hacker (I believe, or it might have been the street preacher) explains how the invaders were changing our atmosphere to fit their own through industrialization and pollution.  This was just a quick piece of background information that wasn’t really elaborated upon but it added a whole other level to the disturbing aspects of having a hidden alien species that is secretly enslaving the human race.

In the real world it is major companies and conglomerates that benefit from using disposable products and pumping pollutants into our waterways and atmosphere.  The ‘common folk’ do not profit from the destruction of the environment while the wealthy ‘bourgeoisie’ (or the upper class who already own most of the country’s resources and wealth) profit even more from just throwing away their wastes instead of being held responsible for it.  In the movie it is the rich, upper class that are revealed to be these horrific aliens parading around as other humans in order to slip seamlessly into our society.  In reality humans all need and benefit from clean air and clean water and so it actually makes more sense that the only beings who would want to pollute the Earth would have to be alien … or just super greedy.

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Consume. Breed. No Independent Thought. Conspiracies!

Posted by smileytristan on January 30, 2015

They Live is a very interesting little bit of sci-fi horror B movie fun. On the one hand, it’s incredibly cheesy, with weird special effects and make-up, as well as laughable dialogue and fight scenes, but on the other, it’s highly entertaining in a “so-bad-it’s-good” way, much like other films such as The Room or Troll 2. That “bubblegum” line is great.

The larger meaning behind it, though, is what really counts. We can draw obvious comparisons with this movie and its depiction of the “elite”, commercialism, and Hollywood with other films, such as American Beauty and Fight Club, which critiqued American culture as well, though both of those were a decade later. The film opens up with the bleak depiction of what cities were like in the ’80s – litter everywhere, desolate and dangerous, a general feel of desperation, and advertisements everywhere. This sets the mood to make it instantly relatable before the science fiction stuff begins. John Carpenter was uncomfortable with the growing state of commercialism during this period, and this film is the result of that. Certainly, this sentiment can still be held today. We are so often bombarded with ads and don’t even think about it anymore. This would be a very easy piece to critique how invasive popular culture is in urban settings. However, the actual threat of being controlled through media feels nonexistent. Do subliminal messages really have any sort of influence on a person’s subconscious desires? Is there really an ongoing plot to keep the rich in power and others in conflict? Important questions, sure, but this film seems like it would appeal more to those Illuminati conspiracists. At least, that’s how I feel. Entertaining movie, nonetheless.

P.S. Clearly, the fight choreography and overall themes were the inspiration for The Matrix.

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They Live… We Sleep

Posted by arielmoore346 on January 30, 2015

I’m not quite sure what I expected from They Live as the opening credits unfolded. Frankly, after the first few scenes I had my mind made up that this was some 80s sci-fi mumbo jumbo and I probably wouldn’t enjoy it. Throughout the opening scenes I found myself struggling to pay attention. I’m the impatient type who always looks up the plot synopsis on IMDB, so the plot was progressing a bit too slowly for my liking. However, once Nada donned the sunglasses my interest was peaked. It was not only the hidden media messages that grabbed my attention, but mostly the revelation that the upper class are secretly aliens in disguise. (The line, “I’m here to kick ass and chew bubble gum… and I’m all out of bubble gum,” is truly what sold me.)

After the first viewing on Tuesday, I found myself really thinking about this seemingly ridiculous movie. It’s crazy how relevant some issues still are. Even in today’s society, there is a metaphorical war between the poor and the rich. Some parts of the movie even reminded me of the issue we have today of police militarization in some areas. Just like history, pop culture repeats itself in some way, shape, or form.

We live in such a consumer culture and They Live reflects that. Although it appears to be a cheesy, over-the-top 80s movie, the message is still relevant today. I am very surprised at how through-provoking They Live turned out to be. Although initially I believed I would hate it, I actually wouldn’t mind seeing again.

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My Thoughts on They Live!

Posted by atgee24 on January 30, 2015

Unfortunately I wasn’t in class Tuesday to see the beginning of the movie, so in class today I was a bit lost in the movie since I came into the very end of it. Mr. Ford let me borrow the movie though, and after watching it, it finally all made sense. They Live! is about aliens taking over earth and setting up these satellites that emit signals through out the world that allow the aliens to look like regular humans. The aliens use that to advantage by getting jobs of power such as the media, and use it to their advantage by brainwashing the humans thru thew news. In my opinion I think that John Carpenter is poking fun at the media, by insinuating that the media tells us a bunch of crap, making us believe what they want us to believe, while leaving out true important knowledge. I enjoyed this movie a lot mainly just because I love the way old “scary” movies look. The way the aliens looked in their true form was awesome to me, I love how cheesy they looked. I grew up watching old horror stuff so this kind of stuff always interests me. I like the fact that John Carpenter could take such an actual meaningful message and tie it into something that at one time was an actual popular movie and that many people have seen it, wether they truly got the underlying meanings or not. I’m glad we watched this movie, and I hope we watch more, or at least discuss more things like this, because these types of things are right up my alley.

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