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June 3, 2003

the matrix and me

Posted by Phil on June 3, 2003 9:10 PM

The Consortium features a long piece by Robert Parry describing "America's Matrix"--the world of deception and illusion conjured by those presently in political power.

I didn't like "The Matrix," and I doubt if I'll see "Matrix Reloaded" or the next one. I don't get out to the pictures often, and when I finally saw "The Matrix" this winter, this was a much different world than the one in which it came out. (Though my ability to stomach Keanu Reeves probably would have been just as limited.)

Aside from him, and the fact that the media had by then absorbed and regurgitated the digital-Hong Kong visuals and general bling of the thing, I had a hard time getting over how this popular movie served as a halfway-decent metaphor for Bush Era America (a disturbing reality I hardly need an escapist version of), and clearly few of the millions who saw it get it.

And then Neo streaks into the "sky" ("oh, he can 'fly' now"), and the credits roll to a Rage Against the Machine song. I never really liked Rage--too much crunch, not enough funk, and the guitar player's a dork no matter how radical his politics or his effects pedals--but their songs protested real injustice happening right here. They weren't die-cut nu-metal bellyaching about being stuck with last year's PlayStation. It seemed a manipulative juxtaposition that allowed Johnny and Sally Massmentality to hit the mall exit rocking righteously, believing that Keanu's fighting the power, when in fact they're re-entering an even grander illusion.

OK, so I was feeling smug in my red vinyl rocker. I'm not singular in my brilliance: You probably get it, too. And this is hardly the fault of the movie, anyway: It predates our present circumstances, and its makers aren't responsible for how their audience perceives or acts upon their message. I loved the movie "Brazil," and in watching it again recently only marveled at its horror, humor, and prescience. I didn't scoff that we don't need this claptrap now that we've got the real thing right here. But maybe that's because only 300 people ever saw "Brazil," and that's not enough to bring down Bush's overall approval rating.

But if everyone who saw "Matrix Reloaded" was somehow made aware that they're suspended in one right now, as Parry outlines in detail here, and unplugged themselves from the comforting illusions they're being fed by their masters, then maybe its overburdened philosophical chassis will have managed to convey something meaningful.

I'd prefer it if that didn't entail rave music, but I know reality isn't pretty.