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We’re not even a week into 2017, and a renowned director has had to defend a 30-year-old movie from neo-Nazi revisionists.
On Tuesday, John Carpenter—director of Halloween, The Thing, and Big Trouble in Little China—stepped up to defend his 1988 film They Live from accusations that the film is really about “Jewish control of the world.” Speaking with L.A. Weekly, Carpenter explained that someone in his Twitter feed was spouting this theory, and he decided to call bullshit.
THEY LIVE is about yuppies and unrestrained capitalism. It has nothing to do with Jewish control of the world, which is slander and a lie.
— John Carpenter (@TheHorrorMaster) January 4, 2017
Believers of this theory—or perhaps just bored bandwagon-jumpers—quickly filled the thread with racist and anti-Semitic memes.
The film, which is based on a 1963 short story, centers on protagonist John Nada (Roddy Piper), who discovers, via a pair of sunglasses, that humans have been taken over by aliens who want the masses to consume and obey. It’s a fairly obvious critique of greed and capitalism.
But if you’re a white supremacist, it’s also a very convenient film to filter your flimsy anti-Semitic conspiracy theories through. As far back as 2008, users on white supremacist website Stormfront were applauding the film, calling it “the best pro-white movie ever” and claiming that “The jews in the movie are not very realistic though. The real ones are much uglier.” Elsewhere, YouTubers have devoted way too much time to this theory, and human wind-up toy Alex Jones has screamed about it.
Let’s not forget the president-elect has become a very popular They Live meme, too. Big fan.
On one hand, it’s ridiculous that Carpenter had to address the ramblings of bigots with too much time on their hands, but on the other it’s fitting that these reality-averse “theorists” are constrained by shortsighted beliefs and only see what they want to see.
We’ve reached out to Carpenter for further comment.
Audra Schroeder is the Daily Dot’s senior entertainment writer, and she focuses on streaming, comedy, and music. Her work has previously appeared in the Austin Chronicle, the Dallas Observer, NPR, ESPN, Bitch, and the Village Voice. She is based in Austin, Texas.