BAD REVIEW: They Live and the Shades of Ideology

They Live in an action science fiction movie about a man who discovers that the United States is controlled by alien invaders disguised as the elite class. Staring Rody Piper a professional wrestler who famous for moments like this, and and directed by John Carpenter, who famous for this thing. This odd combination created an unique action film that adds a touch of political commentary In the film Rody Piper plays Nada, a homeless drifter who comes across a box of sunglasses that lets him see the hidden messages that are being transmitted to general population. The reason I became interested in the film was in response to Marxist philosopher Zizeck’s analysis on the film,  where he stated that the glasses were a stand in for ideology, or rather a liberation from ideology.


Zizeck argues that the ideologies of our society can skew our perception of reality in a way that benefits the status quo, meaning we ignore things that maintain inequality. But I think both zizeck and the film leave out an importance nuance when it comes to discussion ideology. There is more than one ideology or framing of the world and this difference can create conflict between groups, epically when these groups believe that there ideology is seeing the world as it really is. The film implicitly promotes the idea that there is the way the world “really works” and that the main characters are the ones who can see it. But if the glasses are supposed to represent ideology then the film did not fully explore its analogy.

Ideology are ways that people can exam the events going on in the world and fit them into a pattern. For example a Marxist, like Zizek,  would see every instance of socially injustice or violence as a part of the larger conflict between the wealthy and the poor. It works the same way that glasses would, where glass filter the light, what is there, to something that is understandable for the eyes. But the thing about glasses and, ideology, is that while they appear to give you a clearer picture on what is going on they may end up filter out some things that could be important. In the same way that bad prescription glasses can distort your view, ideology can shift your view of the world in a way that is not accurate to how things really are. For example a person who is entirely focused on how economic class creates violence in society may miss out on how racism or sexism operates in a society. This is what can lead to the various interpretations of how things are and these interpretations can lead to disagreement and conflict. Each of these different perspectives can speak to some valid truth about the world, the problems in conflict arise when the perspectives hold that there’s is the only real truth about the world. This is the kind of problematic ideology that the film ends up implicitly endorses, that there is a real way things are and that there is an “other” responsible for the problem. To see an example look no further that the multitudes of critical thought that tries to explain the root cause of injustice whether it be racism, sexism, capitalism, or the cabal of globalist elites trying to destroy the middle class. Worst still are the ideology that identify another as responsible for the problems in the world, be they, blacks, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, etc. etc.

Unfortunately the film kind of advocates for a violent approach to the problem where Nada and the rebels kill ones they see as aliens. The violence to the aliens is justified because “there not human” and this kind of thinking has been used to committee violence against groups of people in history. For example take this montage video on YouTube of the comments and annotations of the video mentions multiple conspiracy theories to which the commenters thinks the film agrees to. This can also lead to people becoming so entrenched to their ideas that they ignore any other perspectives that can help them. So what could the movie have done to avoided these problems?

The easiest fix for this problems would to be have more than one set of glasses and have more than one ideology. For example one set of glasses sees aliens another set sees reptilian hominoids or robots. To avoid the pessimistic view that, you can never really know the answer, the different glasses would both be showing truth, but not all of the truth. This is to represent that while one ideology cannot explain or accurately account for everything they can still reflect hidden truths that can be seen through multiple ideas. these different set of glasses create different groups of resistances that end up arguing over who is the real enemy that needs to be fought. The resolution comes when the groups understand that they are still fighting the same enemy and they coordinate there efforts to fight the same problems. At the end of the film the groups are able to organize a united assault to destroy the broadcasting machine and everyone can see the full truth. This edit can resolve some of the ideological problems of the film as well as add a bit of drama as the audience will question if piper is on the right path.


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