John Carpenter’s 1988 movie They Live is a cult classic, and it teaches us about economics too!! The movie stars the late WWE wrestler Roddy Piper and highlights the issues surrounding consumerism and class conflict.
The plot sees planet Earth secretly taken over by aliens who look like skeletons (or do our skeletons look like aliens?). The space skeletons (damn that sounds good, we’re copywriting that) manage to infiltrate our governments and corporations and assume positions of power. The devious space freaks then subliminally control us petty humans by using advertisements and the media. For instance, if we look at billboards and TV adverts, we’ll desire to buy goods.
However, Roddy Piper has these kick-ass black sunglasses (that were given to him by homeless people who know the truth about the secret space skeleton conspiracy) that let him see who the space skeletons are and what the media is really saying. Roddy can see that adverts are literally telling us to consume, obey, conform, marry and reproduce. Sound familiar?
The space skeletons are able to maintain economic and political power over the unwashed masses by encouraging people not to question reality.
This movie reflects reality and the inequality we see throughout the world today. If we consider the 1% vs. the 99% issue, it seems this film is drawing our attention to the fact that the 99% have no economic or political power at all, otherwise the space skeletons would live as the lower, rather than the upper, classes. The space skeletons control the lower classes, and the unwashed masses are completely oblivious to being exploited.