By Stevie Wang
In “They Live!,” a drifter stumbles upon a conspiracy about aliens who secretly rule over the human race. By wearing a pair of sunglasses, the drifter is able to see that aliens are disguising themselves in positions of great power such as company owners, police officers, and politicians and are essentially governing the human race and working for their own interests. Humans are completely oblivious to their rulers and are kept from seeking the truth due to consumer goods and materialism.
The core element of “They Live!” is the cronyism that often-times co-exists between government and private entities which gives them significant advantages in society thus placing them in a permanent position of wealth and power. The playing field is supposed to be even for all people, and each should get ahead through hard work and perseverance. However, some people have significant advantages over others, especially with regards to government favors and connections to officials. “They Live!” seeks to parody this cronyism by assuming that all positions of power are held by aliens who will only allow their own kind to be promoted. This practice will create a permanent underclass of humans who, despite their hard work and competence, will never be allowed to move up the social ladder.
“They Live!” explores government nepotism and crony capitalism as a means of limiting social mobility. Moreover, it assumes that the population is not aware of these corrupt practices and accepts them due to short term gains instead of long term liberty. The implications that “They Live!” has in the real world include the various industries that directly benefit from government subsidies, government appointments based off personal relationships and government favors to individuals or individual entities. The questions that warrant discussion include: whether or not the government should offer subsidies to certain companies, the legality of nepotism in terms of government promotions and appointments and the influence of lobbyists in terms of legislation created by the government.