The development of a vast but messy world-wide computer network.
The gradual “cyborgisation” of the people who interact most intimately with that network.
The sense that the real power lies somewhere other than in the hands of the rulers
A direct response to postmodern cultural theory (postmodernism)
Cyberpunk has been instrumental in narrativising & visualising the qualities of postmodernism.
Disorientation, powerlessness, fragmentation, disintegration, loss of boundaries and hybridisation.
Cyberpunk heroes confront the world machine with street-smart and deeply private codes of behaviour
However, they do not understand exactly what it is they are “wise to”
The protagonist must respond to the sense of a moral vacuum within society.
The world is represented as a complex engine with purposes no longer recognisably human.
The ultimate premise of Cyberpunk is surprise - the characters remain shocked that individuals can be so powerless, and that the power lies in the hands of the invisible masters of the world’s information nets.
The Matrix as post-modern fairy-tale
Neo’s first contact with Trinity is through his computer screen (magic mirror)
In his quest to become “the one” he is helped by friends with special skills (Morpheus, Trinity, The Oracle)
He comes up against a supernatural adversary - Agent Smith
He defeats SA & restores order for his new group of friends
Simulacra & Simulation
“ Simulation is: … the late modern revolution in communications, cybernetics and systems theory that generate sign systems organised not simply to conceal reality, but to produce reality from the models or codes of the mass media, the political process, genetics and digital technology.”
Christopher Horrocks, Baudrillard and the Millenium
Images and meanings are more important than products themselves
“ ...designated “reality” is now no longer even absent but generated by models and codes in a self-referential manner as hyperreality : reality is now more real than real.
Chris Horrocks Baudrillard and the Millennium
“ The Matrix is ostensibly about a futuristic situation, Neo’s world, not ours, but clearly it’s an allegory - both social and spiritual - for the human condition as it’s always been, and for its emerging character in this century.”
John Shirley Know Thyself in Exploring The Matrix (Ed Haber)
John Shirley - Part Deux
The Matrix addresses concerns that mankind is “out of balance with technology”.
Humans are becoming too machine-like, “too prone to conditioned reflex, socially programmed behaviour. Perhaps we are the scariest machines of all”.
“ The idea of The Matrix is that it’s very easy to live an unexamined life. It’s very easy to not be aware of what’s going on out there in the world.”
Promotes the notion that you should look around yourself and question not only what you see, but also what you accept.
Themes of The Matrix - Summary
Good vs Evil
Love conquers all
Inner doubts about the nature of reality, perception & consciousness
Fears of dehumanisation at the cold hands of a robot
Darrel Anderson Art Imitates Life (Yes, It’s News) in Exploring The Matrix (Ed Karen Haber).