Saturday, December 1, 2012

They Live, A Generation On

Over at Hero Complex, director John Carpenter recently speaking about his 1988 cult classic They Live, remarked that
the movie was just a cry in the dark against Reaganism and Thatcherism. There was nothing particularly special about it — it was just my rage about what had happened to the culture, which is not shared by a lot of people. A lot of people thought everything was great – 'Let's make some more money.'
And contrary to what might have been hoped, the decade never ended, all of it "still going on" so that the "film seems prescient."

Recently reading Kevin Phillips' The Politics of Rich and Poor I was again reminded how common it was at the time for critics to see the decade as some aberration, and to imagine that a reaction against capitalism-run-amok was around the corner. However, the U.S. instead saw one neoliberal administration after another, the twelve years of Reagan-Bush followed by Clinton, Clinton by Bush II, Bush II by Obama, while the picture was much the same elsewhere in the world, and what appeared aberrant has come to seem the norm - while artists became less prone to challenge the prevailing sensibility. The press reports a few years back about a possible remake of the 1988 film suggested that it would lack the original's satirical teeth, something that also appears to be the case with the remake of another satirical '80s science fiction film, Robocop, currently expected in theaters next summer.

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