Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Either Put on These Glasses or Start Eatin’ This Reflection

Posted by Drake Kizer on February 1, 2017

When we went over the syllabus on our first day of class, I had no idea what the film They Live was at all. I, like everyone else I’m sure, was just excited to be watching a movie for class. I have always enjoyed watching films and giving my reactions to them, and so this assignment definitely piqued my interest. My curiosity was furthered when the film opened by showing Roddy Piper, since I knew him from watching a lot of professional wrestling when I was younger.

I immediately recalled that Roddy Piper had done films in his career, and based on his attire in the first scene, I recollected seeing the famous scene about kicking ass and chewing bubblegum a handful of times before. Even though that single scene is iconic in American film lore, I was honestly blown away by the depth of the entire movie. At first it seemed like another cheesy 1980s action flick, but It was far from that. Despite outdated effects and animations by today’s standards, the message the movie sent is still as relevant today as it was when the film was released in 1988.

The plot of the movie is admittedly a bit convoluted, with the whole sunglasses revealing evil alien skeletons deal. However, the idea that a central entity lead by the powerful and wealthy can actively affect and enforce the standards of society is not that far-fetched. The scene where Piper looks around at all the billboards and magazines and sees the true messages behind all of them was very poignant, and it gave me a bit of pause. Even in our world today, advertisements might show us flashy pictures or sensual models, but they really mean “be a good consumer” or “have sex” or a myriad of other meanings. Sure, corporations would say, “Those are just campaigns to make people spend money.” But isn’t that the same thing the evil people in the movie said? And isn’t money the root of all evil?


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