Another film icon has left us. Wrestler-and-occasional-actor “Rowdy” Roddy Piper passed away earlier today.
For those of you who don’t know him, Piper starred in the 1988 John Carpenter cult science-fiction action film ‘They Live,’ a truly bizarre feature that combines aliens and machine-gun-machoism with surprisingly potent commentary on eighties-era corporatism and consumerism (no joke). Piper’s acting doesn’t exactly make you think Oscar-nomination–it’s alright in the beginning but gets pretty wooden by the end– but he’s never-the-less enjoyable in it in the same way I imagine it’s enjoyable to see your kid act in a grade school play– you’re not concerned about (or actively looking for) quality; it’s just a thrill to see them have fun with what they’re doing. His performance also has the distinction of including one of the most grounded, drawn out fight scenes ever put to film, a moment that has a legacy all its own.
‘They Live,’ was a movie that played a lot on late-night television when I was growing up, and it has always stuck with me. In that sense Roddy Piper has been a part of my collective cinematic appreciation for about as long as anyone else. No, he didn’t revolutionize the film world, but he was entertaining in his own way; and sometimes that suffices.
Fair well, Mr. Piper. May you chew bubble gum and kick ass forever at that big wrestling arena in the sky.