Tag Archives: adbusters

They Live! The Counter-Culture Must-See Holiday Movie

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A Christmas present from my coworkers…

A few months ago some folks at work overheard me talking about how much I love the movie They Live.  Bless their little souls, yesterday they gave me the DVD as a Christmas present.  I watched it as soon as I got home last night.

Let me now explain to you why you must see it, and why the holiday season is the perfect time to do so.

The movie is based on a story by Ray Nelson called “Eight O-clock in the Morning.”  Ray is now 83 years old and is remembered primarily as the inventor of the airplane propeller beanie.  But he could just as well be famous for teaming up with Michael Moorcock to smuggle banned books out of Paris, for teaming up with Philip Dick to write The Ganymede Takeover, or for being friends with Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs.  If you know anything about the wacko, counter-culture, Beat Generation friends that Ray cultivated, you now have an idea what to expect from this tale.

Carpenter’s version of the story isn’t perfect.  The tone is mixed, switching from comedic to creepy at the drop of a hat, and the effects are rather uneven (some of them are quite good by 1988 standards, others are just plain awful).  It’s a low budget production for sure, and there are times when you cringe at the sets.  The movie starts off a little slow.

But when the hero, played by pro wrestler Roddy Piper, puts on the sunglasses and utters one of the best movie lines in movie history, you better hold on to your seats.  “I am here to chew bubble gum and kick ass,” Piper says.  “And I am all out of bubble gum.”

They Live is a scathing critique of commercialism, advertising, greed, and our entire society, but it manages to get it done without preachiness or pretense.  Is it perfect?  No.  But watching this movie is like finding a diamond ring in your Velveeta, and when you’re done you may not look at your TV, your boss, or your congressman the same way again.  You may even feel pretty stupid about the credit card bills you racked up to put presents under the Christmas tree.

A surprisingly good performance from “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, and a great job by journeyman actor Keith David.  Directed by John Carpenter, the genius behind Halloween, Escape from New York, and Big Trouble in Little China. Dozens of memorable lines of dialogue.  One of the best fight scenes in the history of cinema.  Great premise.

It all comes together to make pure, B-movie magic.

A New Way of Xmas Being (Adbusters)

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I got this email from Adbusters the other day and I thought I’d share.

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Attention shoppers!

As our planet gets warmer, as animals go extinct, as the humans get sicker, as our economies bail and our politicians grow ever more twisted, we still find ourselves lurching to suck from the breast of the capitalismo machine. This is our solace, our sedative – consumerism is the opiate of the masses.

We’re in a state of “pathological consumption,” George Monbiot explains, “a world-consuming epidemic of collective madness, rendered so normal by advertising and the media that we scarcely notice what has happened to us.”

For those of us who do notice it, who decry it, abstain, and try to eschew capitalism … Christmas is the one time where we suddenly absolve ourselves of this stance, as we feel compelled, by a strange and powerful force within, to join in the momentous, orgiastic ritual of America’s consumerist cult.

As we max out our credit cards, we hope we will become America’s economic heroes – saving the nation from the fiscal cliff. But instead, we plummet further into a complicated recession, and as our spirits sink once again, the economists coo into our ears that there is a way out – consume more, they say! This is the paradox of our addiction – filling the void only to fall deeper into it.

The call to consume less – where it is heard – is denounced as pedantic, naive, authoritarian, even insane.

Decide for yourself where the insanity lies. Four out of five Americans are on Adderall, Ritalin or Prozac. One in three are obese. People in the Congo are massacred to facilitate our latest smart phone upgrades. America, Europe, Canada, Australia, we are all living 5 planet lifestyles. If you still need a reason to stop consuming – consider that manufacturing and consumption are responsible for more than half of the global carbon dioxide emissions. And if we heat up just 4 degrees more, we will witness a total and irreversible collapse of human civilization. We’re killing ourselves – and even as the denial about global warming is slowly breaking over us, we still choose – sheeplike – to join the throngs in the malls. Without significant rituals, we clamour to participate in the only ones we have, like the Christmas shopping binge, driven by our desire for meaning – of which our culture is devoid.

It’s not the “fiscal cliff” you should worry about … it’s the culture, stupid! We are hanging by a nail onto our collective sanity – a cultural cliff hanger.

Buy Nothing Christmas gets to the heart of this matter. Reclaiming the ritual of this magical season – consciously and deliberately – is a radical, emancipatory choice. As Christmas approaches, can you find the strength to break the addiction, to wake up from the nightmare … will you be brave enough to plant the seed of a new way of being? Make your life a demonstration, a defiance, a piece of art, a heroic journey. Start this Christmas – dare to gather your friends and family together and vow to do it differently this year.

And if you’re ready, bring this message to the streets. From now until the New Year, gather your fellow revellers and march around NYC’s Times Square – the iconic centre of global advertising – proudly holding up #BUYNOTHINGXMAS signs for the whole world to see.

Here’s to the coming year of the snake!

From all of us here at Adbusters

Adbusters Printed My Letter

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The cover of the Adbusters issue in question.

Tonight when I reached the end of the month’s issue of Adbusters I discovered they had printed the letter I wrote them back in on Oct. 2nd.

If there’s a magazine anywhere with sharper intellectual chops and bigger balls I’d like to see it.  Sure, I know it’s just a letter.  But just seeing something I wrote show up in a magazine of this caliber is inspiring.

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My letter takes up half the page.

If you’re interested, here’s it is.

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Dear Adbusters:

I’m always so excited when you show up in my mailbox.  Sometimes my heart even beats fast.

Reading you is like listening to a stirring piece of music.  As your pages turn I’m inspired to create and work and pursue my dreams.  When I’ve turned your last page I often sit down to write.  Someday, if I live long enough and the stars align, I’ll be able to exit the corporate rat-race, write full-time, and support my family doing what I love to do.  I celebrate you, my paper friend, who comes by mail to visit awhile and offer support.

But I’m stricken also by the crash that comes later, the troughs between the swells of your visits.  I watch or read the news and see that the changes that are wrought are often reversed, that transformations in the world at large rarely last, that the losses seem to outweigh the wins.  For every corporate defeat there are two corporate success stories.  I look down the block at the signs in my neighbors’ yards and I see blue and red, but mainly red.  There is no green, no black, no rainbow.  I look at myself and see that, despite the strife and struggle in my heart, I live much the same as I always have.  I have made few sacrifices.

I live in fearful frustration.  I have a child, a partially disabled wife, an elderly mother and an elderly mother-in-law who depend on me to make a good wage and keep our bills paid.  When and how am I to protest when, should I be arrested or even captured on T.V., my corporate job would be stripped away?  Sometimes I fear that you offer me false hope and I become angry at you.  I think at times that you’re a fine one to talk — after all, you’re made out of paper and have nothing to lose.  Wouldn’t it be better, I think at these times, to just ignore you and acquiesce?  To just watch T.V. and wait for the weekends and party like everybody else who isn’t unemployed.  Wouldn’t I be happier?

And then you come in the mail again, and my spirits lift.  You do so much for me, I feel guilty for asking, but I have to ask a favor.  Could you show me the faces of those like myself who are trapped between the threat of jail and their responsibilities to others?  Could you tell the stories of parents and caregivers who long to march and scream, to resist and fight, to yell in the street at the feet of tyrants — the desperate ones who strain to fight but who cannot?

Thanks,

~Mitch

Somebody Had the Same Idea

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Saw this in Adbusters magazine and thought, wow, I must be onto something.