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When Carpenter, a wrestling fan, saw Piper’s bravura performance in This is not the observation of a cranky right-winger seeing Commies under every bed.This is the considered opinion of numerous Marxist, neo-Marxist, and coffee-house-Marxist commentators.I’ll return to this in a bit, but for now, just know I don’t mean it in that sense.
In this telling, the aliens of would be hiding subliminal messages in the media that say, “Be gay,” “Stay woke,” or some such.(The “Obey” command inspired the artist Shepard Fairey’s “Obey” artwork.)As the story unfolds, Piper discovers that the glasses don’t merely reveal the true nature of our greed-soaked capitalist system run by Reaganite yuppies, they also expose the true nature of the 1 percenters (to borrow a more contemporary term).They are hideous aliens, parasitic puppet masters who fill our heads with lies about progress and happiness, turning our frivolous wants into deeply but wrongly felt As befits this cartoonish understanding of capitalism, the vision of the film is a caricature.The name “Nada” (Spanish and Portuguese for “nothing”), we are told, is suggestive.Our bourgeois everyman discovers that in the brutal world of capitalism, he really is a nothing, a dehumanized cog.While sleeping in a shantytown called “Justiceville” — basically a Great Depression–style Hooverville — he’s woken up by a brutal police raid.He barely escapes, and in the process he discovers some sunglasses.The true nature of society isn’t complicated, but stark.When Piper puts on the glasses, that truth “is seen in black and white.” “It’s as if the aliens have colorized us,” Carpenter explained.This flourish was aimed at Ted Turner, who at the time was being vilified for colorizing classic black-and-white films for profit.“That means, of course, that Ted Turner is really a monster from outer space,” Carpenter joked (or did he? The aliens are depicted as ghoulish, skinless skulls because Carpenter believed the real-world Ted Turners were sapping our humanity, forcing us to “sell out” to the system.