Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

They Live Reflection

Posted by taylorbelcher on February 3, 2017

Going into the movie, I knew it was going to be something about technology or media, but the title made me unsure. I thought the reason that we watched this film was because it can be related to the world we live in today, even though it is from 1988. I definitely didn’t expect it to be like aliens brainwashing people through ads, television, etc. 
Honestly, I didn’t like They Live at all. I did think it was interesting how when the sunglasses were on, the ads disappeared and everything was black and white, literally and metaphorically. For example, the billboard of the girl said, “Marry and Reproduce” when the sunglasses were on. I found these things fascinating because we actually talked about something similar in my Gender/Women’s Studies class last semester. One of the groups that was presenting had a bunch of ads, and they explained like what the underlying message was for each. They even showed ads from the 1920s. 
We discussed this in class on Thursday, but I also made the connection about how people wearing the sunglasses were awakened to what was actually going on around them. I know someone said how people nowadays use the term “woke.” 
However, I did not make the connection that this was supposed to be like a satire for action movies. I am familiar with John Carpenter’s work, but I did not know what to expect of this film. Towards the beginning of the film, it reminded me of the novel 1984 by George Orwell because in both the film and novel you can see where it sends the message that everyone is constantly being watched and technology is taking over. Also, 1984 was published in 1949, but there are also some things from it that can be related to today as well. 
By the time it got to the over-exaggerated, thirty minute fight scene about wearing sunglasses, I kind of started to pick up the fact that it was supposed to be cheesy but was still not aware that it was mocking action movies. I thought that maybe it was supposed to be symbolic that people would never stop fighting either for change or against it. 
My last comment is that I absolutely hated the ending. I don’t like how it just ended. Holly killed Frank, which I thought was a good plot twist, don’t get me wrong, it definitely surprised me. Then when she killed Nada, it just sort of ended with no falling action or any kind of plot. 


5 Responses to “They Live Reflection”

  1. katemilner9 said

    I like that you acknowledge how long the advertising phenomenon this movie comments on has been going on. Ads like this with strong underlying meanings are by no means new, even if people are just getting “woke” to them. It’s worth wondering if there was ever any other reasons for advertisements in the first place, you know?

  2. I enjoyed your point on the thirty minute fight scene. When I was watching the movie I didn’t think the poor fight scenes were out of mockery, but truly poorly done. Your idea of there being an underlining symbolism behind people endlessly fighting for change or against it really resonated with me.

  3. emilymorgan98 said

    I agree with you when you mentioned how you didn’t realize this was supposed to make fun of action movies. I didn’t realize that either until we talked about it in class.

  4. tommistowers said

    i enjoyed the points you made when the main character had the sunglasses on and how all the different ads said a different thing. I agree the movie had a lot of plot twists that I didn’t like as well. The “action” was not entertaining to me either. Good job!

  5. brianchenault said

    I agree the ending was very abrupt and asked more questions than it answered. While I believe the rest of the movie to be a very artistic in its choices, the ending fell very flat and left an awful taste in my mouth especially since Carpender was the director.

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