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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Sunday, June 21, 2020

entry arrow10:00 AM | The Film Meme No. 57

[57th of 100]. There is no denying the place of this film -- the first in a trilogy -- from Lana and Lilly Wachowski in the history of film, in popular culture, and in our collective consciousness. The film cannot be denied its influence. When it came out in 1999, it felt like a stealth bomb, establishing its directors as visionaries, redefining the appeal of its star, and most of all, reinventing the action genre [and the sci-fi genre] -- its signature moves, its patent cool, its ballet of acton have since been endlessly parodied and replicated. Today, it has become a pop cultural favorite in interpretative discourse: a literary reinterpretation of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, the mythological weight of The One, a philosophical touchstone on the notion of reality, a Marxist read on the dehumanization of labor and the culpability of capitalism, a cautionary tale of technology and consumerism, an examination of spirituality in a media-saturated world, an allegory on gender and transsexuality, and so many others. It lends itself to many interpretations, becoming the ultimate Rorschach inkblot test. There's the famous red pill/blue pill scene, for example, where Morpheus engages Neo to make a choice between accepting the world as it is [blue pill], or ripping the illusion of it to see the reality [red pill]. Last May, in the midst of the pandemic, the controversial technology entrepreneur Elon Musk recently cryptically tweeted: "Take the red pill," to which Ivanka Trump replied: “Taken!” This prompted co-director and co-creator Lilly Wachowski to respond with, “F— both of you.” I knew from the get-go, and I think everyone else also did, that the film was going to be important; it announced itself so, captured the popular imagination, launched raging philosophical debates, and has not lost its edge or relevance even after twenty years [or even the dilution of its less inspired sequels]. I still use the film in various humanities classes as a kind of parable easily digestible for students trying to make sense of various concepts, and its malleability as discourse fodder remains amazing. What's the film?

For the introduction to this meme, read here.


[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich