In a perfect world, maybe art could indeed speak for itself, but, what with white supremacy and neo-Nazism running around all footloose and fancy-free, it’s safe to say that such a presumption of good faith has gone the way of the dinosaurs. John Carpenter learned that lesson the excruciating way when he felt compelled to explain that no, his 1988 sci-fi thriller They Live is not an allegory for Jewish supremacy and the resistance that needs to be mounted against it. That theory comes from a small, but, of course, vocal segment of They Live’s cult fandom that, below the movie’s surface-level plot about unrecognized aliens accumulating American wealth, sees clear support for the inexhaustible paranoia that Jewish people hide in plain sight and control society by hoarding wealth.
As Gizmodo points out, the dark web has produced such ravings about They Live’s supposed Jewish supremacy themes since at least 2008, with message boards proclaiming sentiments like, “This is, by far, the best pro-white movie ever.” (Sucks to suck, Song of the South.) It’s no surprise, though, given the general Trumpism of the times, that the anti-Semitic reading of the film has built up support of late, enough to get the attention of John Carpenter, who wrote and directed the film. Taking to Twitter with a definitively non-Nazi treatise on the film, Carpenter denied any alleged white-supremacist overtones, instead confirming the popular reading of the film as a satire of Reaganomics and ‘80s greed. He wrote: “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.” Ah, well, given the basic decency and good sense of the people involved, that should settle things, right? Alas, the trolls-and-eggs contingent of Twitter immediately bombarded Carpenter’s mentions with tweets, memes, and other “evidence” of their theory. Oh, but for the simple days of reading too much into Westworld.