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There is No Spoon – Reflecting on the 25th Anniversary of The Matrix

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Serotonin drop
March 1, 2024
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Released in 1999, The Matrix was the story of a man who was a software debugger by day, a hacker by night, who is slowly made to realize the world in which he lived was a fabrication. (Part of this is done with the use of a goth girl in leather pants, which is sad-boy kryptonite.) In reality, it was a few hundred years in the future, and machines had enslaved humanity for use as an energy source, and the virtual world (for all intents and purposes our real world) was an elaborate deception designed to control humanity and keep them in a docile state. Our hero comes to understand this reality, and through his will manipulate the virtual world to his own desires.

There are, of course, a few plot holes. Neo = One was amateur writing at best. Human body heat makes a shit battery, and the idea of needing to occupy human minds with ‘existence’ rather than genetically engineering them to be warm but almost brain dead seems ridiculously contrived. Why not just sever their spinal cords so they remain alive to produce heat but cannot rebel, or keep them in medically induced comas? But I digress.

These issues aside, the film brought a lot of innovation to both motion pictures and video games. Bullet Time, where time would slow for the protagonist to a degree that they could move around incoming bullets, became a staple in movies and games such as Max Payne for several years. Credit where it is due, the fight scenes were incredible. Watching Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith) and Neo (Keanu Reeves) kung fu fighting made all of us wish our karate lessons in 5th grade had continued so we too could effortlessly beat the binary code out of the digital prison guard.

The real legacy of the film though, is how it made reality… Flexible. 

Ridiculous science fiction on its face, the film’s depiction of a reality so false yet so complete as to make the cracks barely visible even to the chosen few who could perceive it left the audience just a little more paranoid about their existence. As we would come to find out, this is not unique, as evidence suggests the entire observable universe may only be a simulation. On the one hand, that one time you shit yourself on patrol may not really have happened. On the other, neither did the time you had perfect game, took that beautiful partner to bed, and the experience was so good you almost married them on the spot. 

Which is it? Are we real? Do we not bleed? Or is all of this an elaborate program on the laptop of what we would perceive as some cosmic entity? If so, someone needs to give me a good reason for having to pay taxes or I’m going to start actively trying to burn out pixels on their screen.

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