Entertainment News and Views
Judge Michael Rubino's Blog
• Location: Monaca, PA
They Live for Sunglasses
John Carpenter's movie They Live is about a wandering construction worker, played by "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, who discovers that America is actually be manipulated by evil alien business men disguised as corporate elitists. The only way for him to figure this out is by wearing a pair of sunglasses. The whole thing's a big black-comedy satire whining about people making money in the 1980's. It's low-budget, but it's also a lot of fun. What was amazing, though, was everyone's refusal to simply put on a damn pair of sunglasses.
Initially, Piper stumbles upon this underground movement of people trying to unmask the aliens while living in a shantytown outside of Los Angeles. There's this weird blind preacher fellow who, of course, is the only one that initially sees the truth. Those blind prophets sure do come in handy, don't they? The preacher, alongside a guy who sort of looks like a thinner Meatloaf, are broadcasting their subversive message out of a nearby church. When Piper wanders in to the church, he's immediately ambushed by the preacher, who tries to get him to put on a pair of sunglasses. Since the preacher is blind, it's easy for Piper to escape the torture of wearing some stylish shades.
Later on the in the movie, once Piper actually tries them on and sees that all of the rich people are actually gross mutants, and that all of the advertisements in the city say things like "CONSUME" and "OBEY," he goes on a quest to get other people to put on the glasses. The only problem is that he makes a big show of it, and the aliens (along with the police force they run) try to break his glasses. He escapes, and meets a woman who brings him back to her apartment. Instead of making any small talk or watching some TV, he tries to get her to put on the pair of glasses... she throws him out a window.
Now, that scene is a little shocking--mainly because it happens so suddenly--but I have to wonder if maybe that woman was overreacting just a little. Couldn't she have something like "No thanks," or "Sorry, I have to go wash my hair"? Nope, the first thing that came to her mind was "This bastard is going out the window!"
But okay, maybe just that one person overreacted a tad... the next guy Piper talks to would gladly try on a pair of cool sunglasses, right? Fat chance!
Piper approaches his co-worker/homeless friend Frank with the proposition of trying on the glasses in a deserted alley. Frank kindly declines, which causes Piper to haul off and clock him! Then, the two muscly construction workers duke it out in the alley for over five minutes. At least throwing Piper out a window was quick. Here, Frank and Piper slowly punch, tackle, kick each other for five whole minutes-- and I don't remember there being any weird Mortal Kombat music playing while they happened either. After about a minute of this fight, you realize that these guys are adamant about stances on wearing sunglasses. Sure the whole thing is a conceit for people's need for ignorance... but who cares, these guys are fighting! And every time you think "Okay, Frank's had enough, he's gonna put on the glasses now," he doesn't. They just keep fighting. Sometimes they pick up a plank, or a broken bottle, and try to use that; occasionally, Piper tries to use one of his wrestling moves on Frank. It's grueling.
Finally, after five minutes and twenty seconds, the fight is over and Frank finally puts on the glasses. Of course, when he does, he realizes that he should have put them on after the first punch. After all that, Frank actually loves the glasses! He and Piper even wear them at night (because they're bad asses).
In the end, that movie didn't make me feel any different about corporate America or wealth... but it did make me realize that when someone offers me a pair of sunglasses to try, I should just do it, lest I want to spend the afternoon brawling.