Monday, March 30, 2009

Conform. Obey.

Have you ever seen John Carpenter's They Live? If so you can skip the description and the clip. If not, quick background: aliens are taking over the Earth using subliminal messages hidden in advertising and mass media, but if you put on special sunglasses, you can see through the disguise. Never mind the 80s hair - the idea is still pretty cool (starts in earnest around 1:10).

What I really like is the connection the underlying message shows to the advertising or object masking it; or sometimes, what seems to be varied text and graphics is really just a set of the same subliminal commands repeated again and again. The sexy Caribbean vacation ad actually says Marry and reproduce. Paper money says This is your god. The pages of business publications have graphs and charts and paragraphs but in reality each page drones Conform. Obey. Conform. Obey.

You're reading this on an atheist blog. Have you guessed where this is going?

I've had They Live on my mind because a friend sent me the infamous bubblegum clip recently, and tonight I used the parking lot of a church as a turn around. While circling the lot I looked up to see plastic letters proclaiming to the world: "Faith is letting your soul see what your eyes cannot". With my rational sunglasses I saw Suspend your critical faculties so that you can be cajoled into believing patently ludicrous claims. Sometimes the Christian/alien overlords forget to turn the subliminal filter on and you don't even need the glasses.

Every time atheists see religious media, I think we translate it to the underlying subliminal message on some level. But now let's start playing the Critical-Thinking-Sunglasses game consciously and explicitly with religious media. It's a great game - spices up any drive to work! Fun for road trips! Fun for the whole family!


Dan said...

Remember how hard Rowdy Roddy Piper had to fight to get his buddy to put on the sunglasses? The fight took up about 20 minutes of the movie.

Getting people to see the signal in the noise might be a losing proposition. Perhaps it's better to smash the transmitters?

Michael Caton said...

Let's not rule out getting the transmitters. A two-pronged approach can be effective.

Dan said...

I'm afraid that instead of revealing all of the skull-faced aliens, we're going to reveal 10% of the population as having Dick Cheney's face!