Saturday, 30 April 2016

The Matrix Analysis

Review / analysis by Rob Ager, 2007

The matrix has achieved massive cultural status for its ground breaking special effects, but more impotantly, the equally original story elements struck an emotional and intellectual nerve that carries on to this day. This message has not faded, but is being steadily reinforced so that the film is gaining more fans as time progresses. The reason for this is that the fast changing technological, political and social landscapes of our world increasingly bear a striking resemblance to the paranoia and unreality of the world depicted in the Matrix.

This is not to say that people actually believe their sensory reality to be a computer simulation. No, the parallels are of a spiritual nature. The most quoted line from the matrix is Morpheus= simplification of what the matrix is as explained to Neo early in the film Athe matrix is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to keep you from the truth@.

The reason this line is quoted so often is because since The Matrix was released an unrelenting barrage of confusing news reports have been unleashed in what is referred to as The War on Terror, only to be followed recently by the new fear‑buster Global Warming. People know that something is severely wrong in our world at the moment. Great fear was unleashed in the form of the 9/11 atrocities of 2001, which has over the years also morphed into the fear of an emerging police state and an increasing tendency toward barbaric military behaviour as seen in the Guantanamo reports. In the meantime our leaders are contradicting themselves by allowing millions of immigrants to flood into western countries at a time when we would expect them to limit immigration as a protective measure against terrorism. And we also have the suspicious intelligence used to kickstart the invasion of Iraq. These are just a few of the world changing events that are making millions of people ask questions about what our civilization is and what the agendas of our leaders are. This is where the Matrix strikes an emotional and spiritual nerve.

Just like Neo in the films opening, 21st century citizens know deep down that lies are being told on a grand scale that manipulates not only individuals, but entire nations. We don't know which news reports to believe and which politicians to trust.

In the Matrix film one of the first signs of something being wrong occurs while Neo is sleeping. Just before receiving his "wake‑up" message over the internet, we see articles on his computer screen that label the character Morpheus as the world=s number one terrorist. Immediately here the Matrix anticipates a trend that would emerge two years later. The 9/11 and anthrax attacks in the US spark an over‑reactive War on Terror in which certain politicians seize the opportunity to create a black and white labelling system to silence their critics, exemplified by George W bush's statement Ayou=re either with us or you are with the terrorists@.

Even the media term Asleeper cells@ bares a sharp parallel in the Matrix. Morpheus talks frequently about most of the population being asleep and not yet ready to wake up. Once they do wake up they become enemies of the Matrix and are hunted by police, SWAT teams and agents with a blind and obedient public also at the oppressors disposal.

The parallels between The Matrix and The War on Terror are very strange indeed.

Another conceptual parallel between The Matrix and the world of its audience is the increasing reliance upon complex information technology. The entire Matrix reality is almost a blatant metaphor for cyber‑space. The internet has steadily crept into every aspect of our lives to the point where some people spend more time Aplugged in@ to the internet than they do in the real world. Psychologists have even diagnosed a new syndrome called Internet Addiction Disorder.

Even when we aren=t spending time directly online we are often hooked up to other electronic systems B mobile phones, mp3 players, televisions, computer games B the list keeps growing. Only recently a computer gaming device was created that is controlled by brain waves alone.

This increasing fusion between people and technology has spawned a growth in techno‑paranoia. The threat of citizens becoming caught up in a complex digital web of false reality and invasive surveillance is played out in its most paranoid and extreme form in The Matrix.

Recently the British MoD=s Global Strategic Trends report proposed that within the next thirty years people who spend long periods of time disconnected from electronic communication systems will be viewed with suspicion. It also hinted at the possible future use of brain implants. Despite being an official document, not only does this sound like a crazy conspiracy theory, but it parallels once again with the Matrix film. Neo is implanted with a bugging device during his surreal interrogation by agent Smith, only to have it removed as he joins the revolution against the machine race. The surreal aspect of his interrogation even suggests a reference to drug‑induced interrogations.

A major concern of modern authorities is the social subgroup that we call Ahackers@. In reality these people, upon detection, are often employed by governments rather than being prosecuted. And thus in the Matrix Neo himself is a hacker, who Agent Smith tries to recruit. The parallels just go and on.

Neo=s training sessions for fighting back against the Matrix system involve skills and knowledge being directly streamed into his brain. This is paralleled by the modern individual=s unprecetented ability to download and assimilate information on almost any subject, which is now being used by ordinary citizens on a massive scale for self‑education and to fight for unsung social causes. Neo himself is awoken by messages he receives over the internet.

So just what the hell are the Wachowski brothers trying to say? Their more recent film V for Vendetta offers an indication of their motivational framework. It clearly depicted a future fascist police state and its marketing campaign included slogans such as AFreedom! Forever!@ and APeople should not fear their governments. Governments should fear their people.@

In The Matrix the Wachowskis make less daring, but very blatant police state references. Room 101, the number on Neo's apartment, is plucked straight from George Orwell=s 1984. It is the torture chamber in which the novel=s main character is brainwashed into submission. It also pops up as the suite number of the Merovingian in Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions. Neo spells the police state reference out while being interrogated. He tells Agent smith AYou can=t scare me with this Gestapo crap.@

The parallels between the 21st century we live in and The Matrix movie of 1999 extend into the philosophical and the emotional. As the public turn away from the mainstream media and begin doing their own internet based research the mountain of corporate lies that is being unveiled is so complex, deep and shocking that many people retreat into whatever escapist or hedonistic fantasies are available. Morpheus spells this out with crystal clarity: AMany of these people are not ready to be unplugged and many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it.@

Those awakened in the Matrix find that their previous connections to a delusional reality can be a blessing or a curse. The dormant connections can be used to re‑access the system and transform it from within or can be used to go back to sleep and live out life in a state of denial, even if this means betraying others who have awoken. In the Matrix and in reality the promise of blissful delusion is a form of bribery to prevent rebellion. In psychological terms these processes are comparable not only to spiritual and social awakening, but also to an adult=s unconscious desire to return to the security of the womb.

Neo's shock at being awoken to the horror of the slave system is comparable, even visually, to the trauma of birth itself. He looks around and sees that he is surrounded by people who are still asleep. The system discovers he is awake, cuts off his life support systems and leaves him to drown. This is akin to the abandonment a person can be subjected to when when they uncover a web of lies fed by their employers or their government.

People who have freed their minds of materialism in the modern world understand exactly what Morpheus is talking about in his blue pill / red pill speech. AY the matrix is everywhere Y You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work. When you go to church. When you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth Y that you are a slave Neo Y born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind. Unfortunately no one can be told what the matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.@ Morpheus description of the Matrix fits perfectly as a description of the marketing empire that brainwashes billions of people today.

For us spiritual awakening reveals a whole new world of personal possibilities. For Neo this paradigm is represented as a physical change in the rules of nature, but is simply a visceral metaphor for how we the audience can grow and achieve mentally once we become free‑thinkers who believe in ourselves.

The Matrix film is a spiritual wake‑up call. It is encouraging you to look deeper, ask questions, pay attention to your instincts.

Neo is surrounded by symbols. The book Simulcra and Simulation, in which he hides sensitive information is a philosophy book that explores how symbols and conceptual themes, used by the mainstream media, are leading the public into a distorted version of reality. The soap suds on his boss's window hint at the streams of data that comprise the Matrix. Alice in wonderland references are everywhere, especially when Neo observes the psychic children while visiting the oracle (a herd of white rabbits can be seen running on the tv screen in the background).

Spiritual wake‑up calls are everywhere in our world, but like in the Matrix are only acknowledged and accepted if we are curious enough to look for them. Most of us have spent our lives swallowing the materialist blue pill because we fear the pain of the spiritual red pill. As with Neo's experience of deja‑vu anything that conflicts with our intelligence‑numbing media induced reality is brushed off as co‑incidence.

Once we do free our minds we can turn to neglected philosophies such as acupuncture and martial arts, just as Neo does. Materialism can then be discarded as a tool of self‑enslavement Y and we must learn to disguise our new spiritual awareness so that our minds are impenetrable by the cynical minded who would seek to destroy that psychological freedom. So the dark shades worn by the heroes in this film are not just a way of looking cool.

The signs and symbols in The Matrix movie delve even into the religious and the ancient. Characters constantly debate over the concepts of fate and prophecy. The term AGreat Architect@ means God in many religions, just as the Matrix is designed by an AArchitect@. The name Morpheus in Greek mythology is one of the sons of Hypnos, the God of dreams. Neo is Greek for the new man. Thomas A. Anderson can be broken down religiously Y Thomas referring to the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, which depicts the 114 sayings of Jesus, while the name Anderson means Son of Man. The name Trinity is the doctrine that God comprises three beings, the Son, the Father and the Holy Spirit and is seen by some reviewers as a depiction of the three main characters of the Matrix.

Unlike the main characters, the name Smith is non‑religious and means to strike, hence a blacksmith is one who strikes metal. As we know, Agent Smith is simply a tool of oppression who is used to strike against the awakened. The names of Neo=s other allies seem to endorse the films metaphor of cyberspace interaction B mouse, link and switch ‑  while the two characters who were born outside of the Matrix are called Tank and Dozer. Their muscular physiques give credibility to their names and by comparison show how the Matrix physically weakens its hosts. The name Cypher, means to encrypt or conceal information. He is the Judas of the Matrix film and serves as a warning that the awakened must decipher the presence of masked enemies.

The multi‑layered metaphors and philosophical parallels of the Matrix, fused with technological insights, show a depth which is almost unheard of in blockbuster action films. The Matrix has drawn an entire generation to its attention through the traditional marketing gimmicks of violence and special effects, but its creators seem to bare full knowledge that as the real world erupts in violence and techno‑paranoia audiences will begin to recognise these parallels within the Matrix universe. This effectively gives the Matrix movies a second‑life or a second‑coming, if you will, in which audiences surpass its hedonistic appeals and rediscover the film as a call to free their minds in the real world.

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