I’m not a Wrestling fan. In fact I’ve only been to the Lucha Libre once in my life –and only because I was invited by a girl I fancied. Sad story… moving on– so the news that legendary pro-wrestler ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper’s passing today at the age of 61 saddens me for completely different reasons.
It saddens me because the film They Live, in which he brilliantly portrays reluctant blue-collared hero John Nada, had a huuuuge impact on my development as a anti-establishment outsider and non-conformist contrarian.
…And I suspect there’s quite a few Grailers who feel the same.
(‘Nada’ means ‘Nothing’ in Spanish. John Carpenter’s idea of black humor, or –seeing John’s unrewarding end– a subliminal warning to all considering to tread the narrow path of the lone revolutionary? You decide)
They Live is iconic of the Reagan era in which it was produced, and at the same time it remains as powerful and relevant as ever, by showing how a simple, working man who just wants to survive and get by as best he can in the dog-eat-dog world he lives in, is suddenly and quite unpreparedly forced to confront the mind-bending realization, that EVERYTHING put before his eyes is an illusion.
In the land of the blind, the one-eye man may be king; but in the land of the asleep, the awakened man is considered a threat. They Live is *more* than a Sci-Film flick with cheap effects and rubber masks, seeding the Conspiranoia fields for the likes of David Icke and all the rest of the NWoo-woo repto-phobes –it’s a recruiting tool, designed to pose to the viewer a very simple question: Do you take the sunglasses off, or do you dare to take a stand?
It saddens me Roddy died way before his time, and I’m ashamed by the fact I didn’t include They Live in my personal list of Gnostic Cinema last year. To make amends, here’s the kick-ass scene from that cult film:
Descanse en Paz, Roddy. Hope they greet you in Heaven with plenty of bubble gum.