Monday, December 6, 2010

"The Matrix" revisited

While going through my usual Sunday domestics, I decided to watch The Matrix.
When I originally saw the film in 1999, I thought it was gooey pap.  Entertaining Hollywood drivel that kept me occupied until the release of The Phantom Menace.  I decided to own a copy of The Matrix pretty much just for the pretty mind candy.
Over time, however, I began to appreciate the film much more.  The question of "what is real?", the obvious Platonic allusions and the Greek allegory of the cave all blended with the philosophy of the East ("there is no spoon") all serve to transform The Matrix into a far deeper opus than I originally gave it credit for being.  It's still a glorified action movie in many respects and watching Keanu hop around and shoot people no doubt encouraged kids to join the military, believing such feats of the body to be possible, but questioning "reality," defying how others define you, that's heady stuff.
As the film and its subsequent sequels raked in more and more money, the capitalist machine really geared up and churned about book after book that asked, "are we really living in a matrix?"  David Icke is just one of the many conspiracy theorists on this gravy train (here is another example.)  Given our own advancements in virtual reality and sensory perception, it's not entirely unbelievable that an advanced power might be running our entire lives and existence as a simulation.  After all, how would we know otherwise?  I can offer no evidence to the contrary and can only await the theory's proponents to submit solid evidence to prove their point.  Still waiting.

I don't believe that The Matrix struck such a nerve because deep down we suspect that we're all trapped inside a pre-programmed computer simulation.  Many of us feel like something just isn't right, but I suspect that has more to do with human nature than any insidious plot foisted upon us by lizard people.  
We have been forced into a matrix.  Here it is: birth, church, school, patriotism, job, marriage, kids, death.  Belay original thought and creativity and smash yourself into the cookie cutter.  Ever been at work, going through a drudgery such as paperwork and inwardly yearning to finish reading an article you saw online?  That's because one activity feeds your mind and soul, the other doesn't.  We stuff that inner impulse down and return to our jobs because we have to.  In the end, I suppose we all are slaves to the matrix.  This sort of thing is blatantly demonstrated in the early third of the film.

So whenever we see Keanu unplug and then gun down a lobby full of corporate tools, we secretly wish we were doing it too.  Perhaps not as violently, but with the same sense of triumph in the human spirit.  For there is indeed a matrix...and it is entirely of our own construction.

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1 comment:

  1. Another interesting point that the film makes: The Matrix was originally a paradise, but our minds rejected it as unlikely. We humans must define ourselves be our suffering.


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