Out of Frame


About this show

Video essays that explore the intersection of art, culture, and big ideas written & produced by FEE's Director of Media, Sean W. Malone.

The Horrible Economics of 80s Horror

October 29, 2020

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As fans of Out of Frame may already know, Hollywood isn’t really the biggest advocate of free-market capitalism (“It’s just business!”). But this sentiment isn’t limited to hardline dramas like ‘Wall Street’ or ‘The Godfather’—it’s also prevalent in MANY horror movies, such as John Carpenter’s 80s sci-fi horror flick, ‘They Live.’


In the movie, we’re presented with a drifter who slowly realizes the world around him is a false reality. As it turns out, there’s a class of aliens who have infiltrated society as bankers, politicians, rulers, and wealthy socialites. Through their scheming to get rich and control the world, they’ve turned ordinary folk into a horde of mindless consumers who do nothing but obey the commands they’re given. (Obey! Consume! Conform! Submit!)

The connection is made explicitly clear toward the end of the movie as one alien admits, “It’s business! That’s all it is!” Yet again, the free market is scapegoated as what’s wrong with the world.

But what the movie misses—as do many others—is that the problems of the world aren’t caused by a single person, a single group, or a single force—they’re caused by us.

That is, each individual has agency and personal responsibility for the outcomes they experience in life. Rather than project blame unto the other, the world is made better by those who decide that it’s up to them.

Are there any movies you can think of that get this right? Let us know in the comments.


Produced by Sean W. Malone
Written by Jen Maffessanti & Sean W. Malone
Edited by Paul Nelson
Asst. Edited by Jason Reinhardt








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