They Live (1988)

17 June 2019

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Venue: SET Dalston, 27a Dalston Lane, London E8 3DF

Organiser: Kerry William Purcell

Kerry William Purcell is a writer, curator, and theorist. He has written widely on photography, design, film, and visual culture. His research interests vary widely from the work of French philosopher Alain Badiou, to the history of British Wrestling. His published work includes essays on British cinema, graphic design history, the philosophy of history, and many more. Amongst his books are monographs on the work of Alexey Brodovitch, Josef Muller-Brockmann, alongside smaller studies of such photographers as Weegee. He teaches cultural theory at Birkbeck, University of London, and at the University of Hertfordshire. He produces an erratic podcast called ‘The Last Outpost’ and lives in the middle of nowhere, in Norfolk, England, with his wife, four children, a cat, and two fish. In his spare time he worries about the fortunes of his hometown club Grimsby Town F.C.

John Carpenter’s sci-fi film They Live (1988) has seen a resurgence of interest following Slavoj Žižek’s discussion of it in his documentary The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema. Carpenter’s film follows a drifter (Roddy Piper), who finds some sunglasses which allow him to see that the ruling class are actually aliens who are concealing their appearance and manipulating people via subliminal messages in popular media to consume, multiply, and accept the status quo.

This screening will also be followed by a short Q & A with author and designer Craig Oldham. Craig has recently published a book of the film entitled: They Live: A Visual and Cultural Awakening. The book is a perfect replica prop, with exceptional attention to detail, and celebrates the importance of the film today, exploring its influences, inspiration, and ideas, as well as its relevance to us socially, culturally, and politically. It features essays by Žižek and Carpenter himself.