“They Live” Live in Downtown Los Angeles

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Artists Stephen Zeigler and Calder Greenwood gave downtown residents a living installation inspired by the classic film  They Live, with signage and actor dressed as an alien in a business suit as seen through Roddy Piper’s magical glasses that reveal the truth of existence. From the film’s official description:

They influence our decisions without us knowing it. They numb our senses without us feeling it. They control our lives without us realizing it. THEY LIVE.

A rugged loner (RODDY PIPER) stumbles upon a terrifying discovery: ghoulish creatures are masquerading as humans while they lull the public into submission through subliminal advertising messages. Only specially made sunglasses make the deadly truth visible.


Shepard Fairey credits the movie as a major source of inspiration: “They Live was… the basis for my use of the word ‘obey’. The movie has a very strong message about the power of commercialism and the way that people are manipulated by advertising.”

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As a tribute to the film with some of the same messaging in mind, Zeigler/Greenwood’s guerrilla performance weirded out business people and security guards as they popped up in various locations. Check out the “moment of realization” from the film, where OBEY is revealed as the essential message of the ruling aliens.

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Comments (9) to ““They Live” Live in Downtown Los Angeles”

  1. Such an awesome movie. I wish these guys could make a more elaborate scheme with hundreds of “They Live” actors roaming the streets.

  2. Yeah, but would anyone notice?

  3. awesome article. I actually just filmed a spoof of the original film, which premiered in both Fresno, Ca. & West Palm Beach, Fl. Swede festivals. I wrote the script, directed & even starred as, Nada, played by one-and-only Rowdy Roddy Pipper. Here is the Youtube link to the comic short: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p37ILOUgo3Q&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  4. Cult favorite of mine. Two things would have made this movie better; The ridiculous, politically correct street fight between Roddy Piper and Keith David – In real life, Piper would have stomped the smaller guy’s brains in and Meg Foster wearing so much red lipstick. It was a true crime to hide those gorgeous lips of hers.

  5. At least give props to the company that makes that mask. Trick or Treat Studios.

  6. No one at the religious advertising booths at Balboa Park had a sense of humor because they rejected the free OBEY card with the depicted deity of their specific religion on it. They also didn’t like that I was wearing a mask. I should have passed them the blank “This is your God” card instead.

  7. Shepard Fairey credits the movie as a major source of inspiration: “They Live was… the basis for my use of the word ‘obey’… so I could make ‘art’ for large corporations & sell t-shirts & other crap just like The Gap.

  8. “T.H.E.Y are safe as long as T.H.E.Y are not discovered, that is their primary method of survival. Keep us asleep keep us selfish keep us sedated.”
    http://www.TheyLiveandWeSleep.com

  9. …and I’m all out of bubblegum.