WARNING: The following contains spoilers for The Matrix Resurrections, now in theaters and on HBO Max.
Matrix resurrections is more than just a sequel to previous films. He actively engages in the original trilogy, reflecting on what was important about the story and urging fans to do the same. This post-modern approach aware of the Matrix films is encapsulated in the story of the protagonist, Neo (Keanu Reeves). After his death at the end of Matrix revolutions, the Machines resurrected it and installed it in the latest version of the Matrix program.
When Resurrections takes over, Neo was given new life as Tom Anderson (his real name in the first film) and is now a creator of successful video games, whose groundbreaking trilogy of Matrix games covered the events of the original films. Tom / Neo is kept imprisoned in this new simulation because he cannot distinguish his real memories from the “fictitious” events of the games. When the parent company in charge of his game studio presses him to make a sequel, Neo is forced to reexamine the original trilogy to understand what makes it so meaningful. Meanwhile, a company marketing team tries to help him out, leading to a discussion that explains once and for all what The matrix the movies were really about.
This scene where Neo and the marketing team think about how to design a Matrix the sequel is one of the most important (and least liked) parts of Matrix resurrections. It connects the original trilogy to the new film while also explaining how people have misunderstood or mismanaged the existing franchise.
The footage opens in a conference room with a Warner Bros. marketing manager. handing out a packet of focus group tested buzzwords for the design team. Along with Neo and the corporate marketer, there are a handful of hipster guys interested in cool trends, nerdy gamer fanboys who over-appreciate the action of the originals, and a small group interested in telling a meaningful philosophical story.
The whole setup reflects how Warner Bros. may have pressured Lana Wachowski to do a new Matrix movie (and Warner Bros. is even referred to by name as the parent company that owns Neo’s game studio). Likewise, corporate marketers, hipster hipsters, and toxic fanboys are three groups that Wachowski personally struggled with in real life, as all three misunderstood and misrepresented his films. This scene confronts the superficiality of their words while unambiguously establishing the meaning of the previous films.
When the marketing manager distributes the package, she points out how the focus groups relate to ‘the brand’ (the Matrix trilogy) with two words – “originality” and “fresh”. She stresses that it’s important to consider these words when designing a sequel, oblivious to the fact that making a sequel to a branded franchise is the literal opposite of a new originality. This is followed by the entry of hipsters. We ask: “What made Matrix different? It collapsed with the head. The other hipster nods: “To the point! People want us in their gray space, turning on their synaptic WTF light. idea to think like a trendy aesthetic. They even call Matrix “Mind porn” and proclaim “Ideas are the new sexy”. The final problematic faction is made up of fanboys of gamers who “want to [their] big, loud, stupid games “with excessive emphasis on” the big guns. Lots of guns. “
These lines are juxtaposed with shots of Neo taking blue pills prescribed by his psychiatrist, pills meant to make him forget his past and stay trapped in the Matrix. However, after the lines “a lot of guns” and “ideas are the sexy new lines,” there’s a photo of him sitting on the toilet, a comment on how much crap those shallow sockets are. Then, in the bathroom stall, he reads graffiti quoting novelist Don DeLillo Americana: “It’s so much easier to bury reality than to get rid of dreams.”
This turning point in Resurrections reminds Neo of the originals’ dream and promise, forcing him to face the reality of his world. It also leads to the most important lines of dialogue in this scene, where the characters talk to each other to explain the meaning of the Matrix video games (i.e. the original film trilogy). “Obviously, the Matrix is about … trans politics … crypto-fascism … it’s a metaphor … of capitalist exploitation, ”the characters say. Notably, the characters giving answers here are not hipsters, fanboys, or corporatists. These Are the People Director Lana Wachowski explains what her films are like to an audience of fans who haven’t gotten the hang of it for twenty years.
One of Neo’s employees, Jude (Andrew Caldwell), is a sexist fanboy who serves as a replacement for many of the show’s most toxic live fans. In an ironic line, he tells his colleagues, “We’re so far from the bad rabbit hole here, folks… Let me sum up our goal in one word: bullet time.” Jude is only obsessed with flashy action, not thinking more deeply about the question or even what he’s saying (like the fact that “bullet time” is two words). The bullet time scenes are amazing, but only caring about them, he’s actually the one “wrong in the rabbit hole”.
Meanwhile, the song “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane plays, a tribute to the series’ Alice in Wonderland patterns and mind-numbing blue pills that keep a blissful ignorance of reality. To underscore this point, Jude’s comment on “bullet time” immediately returns to Neo holding an entire handful of blue pills. It is, literally, more thoughtless stupidity than any person can swallow and he tosses them down the sink. He then looks deeply at his reflection in the mirror, pushing the glass aside. This is the turning point where he pushes the boundaries of his perceived reality, re-examining himself and his environment. The scene ends with the song’s chorus, “Feed Your Head,” a longing for Neo, and all fans of the series, to think critically and engage in complex new ideas.
Of course, these fanboys, hipsters, and even traders all have points. the Matrix movies are original and they To do make people think. And yes, the big guns and bullet time are an integral part of the series. It wouldn’t be a Matrix film without them. However, as the characters unambiguously state, the films are an exploration of trans politics, crypto-fascism, and capitalist exploitation. Caring only about the fight scenes, but not the importance of the fight, leads to crypto-fascism. To treat The matrix as a brand is only a more capitalist exploitation. Meanwhile, there is no point in thinking that ideas are sexy. To resist fascism and capitalist exploitation, and to fight for the politics of trans liberation, you have to stop taking pills to numb yourself and instead feed your head.
To see the true meaning of the Matrix movies revealed, The Matrix Resurrections is now in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.
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