Saturday, October 31, 2009


In 2002 the legendary underground emcee Cage released his solo debut album "Movies For The Blind". The cover for the album, illustrated, looks to be a type of homage to the original movie poster design of the classic 1988 Sci-Fi and dark comedy film "They Live" by legendary horror film director John Carpenter. Listening to this album leaves no hint of the influence, if any, of the film on Cage's music though. The "Movies" cover illustration and title are both, clever and ironic.

One of the aims of the StereoTyped blog is to explore some of the interesting ways that music and visual communications meet and collide at the intersections of our pop and creative culture. While reading an interview with the RZA in TIME magazine two weeks ago he mentioned "They Live"."I'll give you another movie: John Carpenter's They Live. That's perfect for our times right now. That's where we're at. I saw that movie, and it really made me think. I started bugging out in the mall. I just felt like, wow, there was something about that movie that was real.”

Now, we'd been thinking along similar lines over here in terms of Carpenter's film's relevant theme for these contemporary times. The film was panned by a lot of critics when it was released in the legendary year of 1988- a year that saw the release of a bucket load of classic Rap music singles and albums. One album among them was the now classic album by Public Enemy- "IT Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back". "Nation" is an album built by those of us who spent the 80's bumping up against the era of Reaganomics. Many of those bumping up against it were Blacks. "They Live" does not delve into the racial issues in the U.S. but what it does try to discuss is the other issue that shadows race and rides along side it. The issues of economic class and free market capitalism.

Over twenty years on and it's striking how close to the mark this film comes to what we're going through today.

“They use their tongues to deceive you. Venom is on their lips. Their mouths are full of bitterness and curses. The fear of God is not before their eyes. They have taken the hearts and minds of our leaders. They have blinded us to the truth. Our human spirit is corrupted. Why do we worship greed?" --The Bearded Man

“I've got a wife and two kids back in Detroit. I haven't seen them in six months. The steel mills were laying people off. They finally went under. We gave the steel companies a break. They gave themselves pay raises. The golden rule: He who has the gold makes the rules. If they close one more factory, we should take a sledge to their foreign cars.” --Frank

“The whole deal is some kind of crazy game. The name of the game is: Make it through life. Only everyone is out for themselves and looking to do you in. You do what you can, but I'm going to do my best to blow your ass away.” --Frank

“The under-class is growing, Human rights are non-existent, In their repressive society, we are their unwitting accomplices. Their intention to rule rests with the annihilation of consciousness, We have been lulled into a trance, They have made us indifferent, We are focused only on our own gain... Keep us asleep, Keep us selfish, - Keep us sedated. The sleeping middle-class is suddenly becoming poor, We are their cattle, We are being bred for slavery” --The Bearded Man

You can view the trailer for THEY LIVE.