Director John Carpenter: '80s Flick 'They Live' Gave 'the Finger to Reagan'

Director John Carpenter: '80s Flick 'They Live' Gave 'the Finger to Reagan'

The 1988 science fiction film They Live is either one of the worst films of the decade or a purposely zany satire which essentially started–and ended–“Rowdy” Roddy Piper’s career as a leading man.

For director John Carpenter, the film had a higher purpose–giving the finger to President Ronald Reagan.

The film follows Piper as he battles against an alien race impersonating everyday humans and forcing us to buy, consume and otherwise embrace greed through invisible messages. That’s where Carpenter dug in his heels, according to a recent Q&A he gave on the film’s 25th anniversary.

So a lot of the ideals that I grew up with were under assault, and something called a yuppie came into existence, and they just wanted money. And so by the late ’80s, I’d had enough, and I decided I had to make a statement, as stupid and banal as it is, but I made one, and that’s ‘They Live.’ … I just love that it was giving the finger to Reagan when nobody else would.

Truth to power, right?

Of course, plenty of people in and out of Hollywood were targeting Reagan at the time, particularly stand-up comedians and Saturday Night Live. Carpenter’s bravura posturing is utter nonsense.

Carpenter also said They Live was a “response to consumerism and class disparity in the 1980s.” We’ll eagerly away a They Live sequel focusing on the current class disparity fostered by President Barack Obama’s policies.


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