My fellow millennials grew up in the era before everything was a reboot and thanks to the improvements to CGI, new and entertainment concepts were being created and displayed, making us look at the world in ways that were mind-blowing.
One such film was “The Matrix,” a sci-fi film that was equal parts action-thriller, philosophical discussion generator, and paranoia creator. The concept of the movie was so cool that it had some teenagers in my school buying black clothing and abnormally long jackets.
I’d laugh at them, but I bought a black peacoat after I watched Boondock Saints for the first time, and it’s still my preferred jacket to this day, but I digress.
For those of you who haven’t seen it or don’t care to, this six-minute rundown fo the entire trilogy will catch you up on the story so far. Obviously, spoilers are ahead.
The original Matrix film was followed up by two sequels that were, frankly, okay at best. Regardless, Matrix-mania had seized America. Even today, aspects of the film are quoted or referenced in everything from explanations of weird events to political discussions, the most popular one describing those who break away from leftist ideals as being “red-pilled.”
The cultural impact of “The Matrix” can’t be denied.
Like many, the announcement of a 4th Matrix film initially excited me. While I think the third film wrapped up the story quite nicely, a dive back into the world of programmed reality seemed like a fun idea and, to be honest, anything with Keanu Reeves in it automatically gets my attention. However, after the initial excitement faded, a very real reality settled in for me, and very much so for others as well.
A lot of it revolves around the age we live in, and the rest of it revolves around the creators of Matrix is itself.
For one, we live in a sea of revamps and reboots, most of which are disappointing at best. Few reboots actually come out carrying the same magic they once did. In fact, in my personal memory, the only reboots that had me applauding were Blade Runner 2049 and Mad Max Fury Road. Your mileage may vary.
A lot of it boils down to the current state of our culture. We live in a very intolerant time, especially in the entertainment industry. If the cast, crew, writers, and messaging don’t lean to the left, then the film has to go. If it glorifies the military or separates from the politics du jour, then it’s evil and must be cast out. I’ve commented on this very subject over the course of my career so much that I’ve forgotten about many of the articles I’ve written up to this point.
What’s more, our culture war is currently obsessed with a number of things including race and gender diversity. Every movie now has to have a powerful female character who is just as good, if not better, than a male protagonist. Every movie, comic, or video game must now also contain a diverse cast of characters, and some creations even contain gender swaps of classic characters or all-female reboots. Also, more and more, we’re also starting to see the presence of anti-masculine or transgender men. These are male characters who act flamboyantly feminine and wear heavy makeup and women’s clothing.
To be clear, diversity in media isn’t necessarily a bad thing by itself, but it becomes ridiculous when it’s clearly shoehorned in for box-checking reasons. For instance, you’re not going to see many black people in stories about medieval Europe or tales involving Vikings, yet if they don’t contain black actors they consider the creators racist for not being “inclusive.”
But it goes to show that politics has taken a front seat and the story must now revolve around it. The message comes before the story.
This brings me to the real reason my excitement about the fourth Matrix film has been greatly watered down; the creators.
The Matrix universe and film trilogy was created by the Wachowski brothers, Laurence and Paul, who would later come out as transgender and identify as Lana and Lilly respectively. At some point, Lilly said in a speech at the GLAAD Media awards that looking back through the lens of their transgenderism, the Matrix was about transgenderism all along.
“There’s a critical eye being cast back on Lana and I’s work through the lens of our transness. This is a cool thing because it’s an excellent reminder that art is never static. And while the ideas of identity and transformation are critical components in our work, the bedrock that all ideas rest upon is love,” said Wachowski.
In one fell swoop, a film trilogy about questioning the lens through which you perceive the world and how that makes you define what is “real” became narrowed down to an allegory about transgenderism. To be clear, the Wachowski’s never said your interpretation was wrong, at least to my knowledge, but here’s the kicker…
Lana Wachowski, who is soloing the movie without Lilly, is making this movie with transgenderism in full swing both in personal life and cultural trend. Again, it’s a time when the message comes before the story and Wachowski effectively has been told by the body politic and socio-political climate to put the pedal to the metal. One has to ask what kind of movie that will give us.
I want to be proven wrong, but based on the continuous string of disappointments and consistent political pandering, I’m not putting money on the film evoking the same level of awe and wonder the universe did before. I predict this entry will make the series smaller, not more expansive, as narratives and messaging take center stage. I predict this movie will make critics and media applaud with high ratings and fawning media coverage thanks to the transgenderism of its creator and messaging within.
But I suspect the audience will think differently. I can’t help but expect low scores from regular viewers on sites like Rotten Tomatoes, each complaining about the same thing; a middling film that leans too much into the ideologically leftist territory and the neutering of certain characters in order to uplift other less-deserving characters there to check boxes.
Again, I really want to be wrong here and will be the most thrilled if my worries just turn out to be paranoia, but sadly my worries don’t come from a vacuum. Modern culture has taught me and everyone else to be wary. We know how this story goes now. A reboot hits all the modern cultural notes, fans get upset at the bastardization of the stories we grew up with, and then we’re labeled as evil in some capacity for not liking it.
On that day, I predict I’ll be one of many holding the corpse of a once-great story and saying “not like this.”