In 2002, Brent Staples communicated with Jean Baudrillard about the use of his philosophy in The Matrix (1999), a film written and directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski. Staples wrote, “He [Baudrillard] noted that the film’s “borrowings” from his work “stemmed mostly from misunderstandings” and suggested that no movie could ever do justice to the themes of this book”. In this paper, I will argue that the Wachowski Brothers did not want to “do justice to the themes of this book”; they wanted to adapt Baudrillard’s theories about the blurring of the real and unreal, and the eventual extermination of the real, into a story that provides hope for humans wanting to escape the suffocation of the “hyperreal”. The “hyperreal” was first coined by Baudrillard in his book, Simulacra and Simulations (1983); it is the product of the distortions of the real through endless simulations of it in radio, newspaper, television, and film.
In The Matrix, Morpheus offers Neo one more opportunity to accept the “hyperreal” in the form of a blue pill which alludes to a world of fantasy, a world that has imprisoned the real—this world is known as the matrix. Many people, like Neo, might ask "what is the matrix?" Whether they would be ready, or not, Morpheus will tell them, “The Matrix is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth”. The truth “that you are a slave”, “like everyone else you were born into bondage, into a prison that you can’t smell, or taste, or touch; a prison for your mind”. This prison is built not necessarily to keep you from being free, but to keep you from the real. The prison’s simulations of the real are so precise that they fool thousands of people in The Matrix. However, there...
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... the matrix. Neo speaks of a simulation that produces redundancy, a simulation that fears change and evolution, and finally a system that allows no progression of human thought. Neo and his band of revolutionaries are now set on awakening as many people as possible from this banal, fake existence. An existence that has produced the stagnation that the Wachowskis feel humans have been born into.
There is meaning to be found in life, and for the renegades in The Matrix, meaning is reality. The Wachowskis, and those liberated from the programmed world, see the perpetual simulations and the machines responsible for them as enemies. The enemies of reality are accountable for the traditional cultural suffocation of the real, progress, inspiration, dreams, and individuality. The Matrix and its creators take the position that no amount of this suppression is acceptable.
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