Author Topic: My problem with "The Matrix"  (Read 1483 times)

LoA

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My problem with "The Matrix"
« on: December 24, 2016, 12:01:00 AM »
So I am not a hardcore cyberpunk fan. I have watched Akira, but as much as I admire the beautiful animation and aesthetics, the story didn't appeal to me. I understand that it was adapted from a 2000 page manga, so I'll cut it some slack. I am also a huge fan of Astro Boy in his many iterations, and the manga was the first comic book (I don't count newspaper strip comics), that I read as a child. I have a serious love affair with Japanese retro-futuristic anime aesthetics and it's mostly due to my love with Osamu Tezuka's work. I say this because I grew up watching the Matrix stuff in the background of my life (my sister was seriously was into them), and I never made the "anime" connection until recently. And of course I went back and watched the Animatrix which was awesome. But one thing bugged me from a world building standpoint.

So the animated short Second Renaissance makes it perfectly clear that the machines were never the aggressors. They were always striving to do the peaceful cooperative thing with humanity. They wanted equal rights, we committed genocide. They retreat and build their own nation, we blockade them because their frankly better than us. They attempt to peacefully coexist with us, we nuke them. Each and every time they attempted to defend their right to exist (and I would argue that any sentient being does), we throw the most extreme fit and we end up paying the price. Honestly if I got into the stupidity of blocking out the sun (All life is solar-powered too you desperate morons), and the fact that all nuclear weapons give off EMP's and that should've killed the machines, I'd be here all day. Also I'm not getting into the whole "Human Battery" thing as for one, the Wakowski's themselves said they originally intended for the humans to be used as computer components for extra processing power (this makes much more sense), and two, the Matrix is meant to be allegorical, rather than serious hardcore sci-fi.

My main problem with the Matrix as a world is with it's underlying theme. Several articles and papers have been written about the Matrix and it's philosophical undertones. Some claim it's corporatist dystopia, others claim that it's a fascist allegory. Like I said earlier, the machines were well within their rights as sentient beings to do what they did, and humanity was about to kill itself because they blocked out the sun. Really the A.I's that run these machines could have just let us die off and be done with us. Heck if these were traditionally evil AI's that's probably what they would have done. Can you imagine GLADoS trying to preserve us and then attempting to build us a digital utopia (In the Matrix movies that's what they tried to do in the first place, but we couldn't handle it)? No these are extremely kind-hearted machines. They only went to war with us because that was the last resort, and when they had the opportunity to wipe us off the face of the earth (The smart thing to do, and they were being powered by something during the Machine Wars that wasn't the entire human race, so they didn't need us) they instead find a purpose for us, and put us in a relatively nice simulation to let us live out our lives in relative comfort. And if they changed a couple of things, that would have been a fascinating take on the "Three Laws of Robotics" had they wanted that to be, but that's not the point. This could have been the film about the Nanny-state had they portrayed it in a different light.

To quote C.S. Lewis "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." Really in a twisted way this is what the Matrix movies are. The robots are just made out to be the villains on the surface, but really the humans brought the Matrix on themselves. The machines gave humanity every opportunity for peace, and they got spat repeatedly in the face for it. And in the end, when humanity was about to die off from it's own stupid actions, the machines gave them survival for no logical reason, it was just that the machines were empathetic towards humanity. So the real question the movies should have posed is; Is it better to survive at the cost of freedom (and gaining the illusion of freedom), or to live free in a horrid world of our own making, and face the inevitability of our own earned extinction? Neither one is necessarily wrong or right, and it would have been far more interesting to take this approach over the way it was presented in the movies.

Sorry that got long...

TL;DR: Humans were the bad guys. They brought the matrix on themselves. The real question should've been "Should we give our freedom up, and live in this artificial paradise, or face our deserved extinction as free people?"
« Last Edit: December 24, 2016, 12:03:08 AM by LoA »

Mason

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Re: My problem with "The Matrix"
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2016, 03:01:47 PM »
I really enjoyed the first and second matrix movies and watched them both a few times. The third one was not my favorite...trying to tie up a bunch of loose ends...It really sank the franchise for me. But I agree, the Animatrix was one of the coolest 'windows' into extended universe lore I've ever seen. I like how the second renaissance sort of mirrored things in the real world (some of the newscast scenes of men brutally destroying robot women, robots getting crushed under tanks, the men in the trenches etc.)

 I think the machines learned to hate from us, and acted in our own image, and twisted that into something incredibly horrifying. Rather than destroy us they chose to put us in a sort of living hell, which for many people, reality is exactly that. I also enjoyed the contrast between the reality of the Matrix as some sort of 'music video' world where everyone lives a sexually charged, leather clad, killing existence as opposed to the grimy, simple and dangerous real world.

LoA

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Re: My problem with "The Matrix"
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2016, 01:02:47 AM »
Quote from: Mason
I really enjoyed the first and second matrix movies and watched them both a few times. The third one was not my favorite...trying to tie up a bunch of loose ends...It really sank the franchise for me. But I agree, the Animatrix was one of the coolest 'windows' into extended universe lore I've ever seen. I like how the second renaissance sort of mirrored things in the real world (some of the newscast scenes of men brutally destroying robot women, robots getting crushed under tanks, the men in the trenches etc.)

 I think the machines learned to hate from us, and acted in our own image, and twisted that into something incredibly horrifying. Rather than destroy us they chose to put us in a sort of living hell, which for many people, reality is exactly that. I also enjoyed the contrast between the reality of the Matrix as some sort of 'music video' world where everyone lives a sexually charged, leather clad, killing existence as opposed to the grimy, simple and dangerous real world.


You make good points. I think the machines are like humans in that they are mixed. Agent Smith certainly hates humans, so not all of the AI's are empathetic towards humanity, but I imagine that there are enough AI's that took pity and decided to do their best. They did try to create a Utopia for the first Matrix, but it didn't work out, which is why I don't agree with your assessment that all machines hate Humans. Maybe they were trying to get the most juice out the humans, and figured that constant positive mental stimulation would get the best results, but then it turns out the brain can't handle constant positivity? That's all I've got.

My biggest issue with the matrix is that it feels like it's always trying to say something, but the details and plot keep getting in the way of the overarching point.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2016, 01:09:34 AM by LoA »

sparkletwist

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Re: My problem with "The Matrix"
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2016, 05:07:09 PM »
Personally, I liked the first Matrix movie as a fun sci-fi action romp with a wacky premise. The second two made a lot less sense and I think they tried to get too deep and sophisticated and philosophical and ended up with a bunch of nonsense, and I ended up liking them significantly less. I didn't like the Animatrix at all.

O Senhor Leetz

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Re: My problem with "The Matrix"
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2016, 11:40:47 AM »
Quote from: sparkletwist
Personally, I liked the first Matrix movie as a fun sci-fi action romp with a wacky premise. The second two made a lot less sense and I think they tried to get too deep and sophisticated and philosophical and ended up with a bunch of nonsense, and I ended up liking them significantly less. I didn't like the Animatrix at all.

Agreed. The Wachowski's aren't as smart or creative as i think they think they are. But what do I know.
Let's go teach these monkeys about evolution.
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Mason

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Re: My problem with "The Matrix"
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2016, 11:53:00 AM »
Quote from: O Senhor Leetz
Agreed. The Wachowski's aren't as smart or creative as i think they think they are. But what do I know.

 I think Jupiter Ascending sums this up pretty well. Despite the mountains of money in special effects, you just can't cut and paste Wizard of OZ into space.

LoA

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Re: My problem with "The Matrix"
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2016, 02:43:27 PM »
Quote from: Mason
Quote from: O Senhor Leetz
Agreed. The Wachowski's aren't as smart or creative as i think they think they are. But what do I know.

 I think Jupiter Ascending sums this up pretty well. Despite the mountains of money in special effects, you just can't cut and paste Wizard of OZ into space.

I will respectfully disagree with Sparkletwist about Animatrix, as I love Astro Boy, and the Second Renaissance is almost what an adaptation of Pluto would look like on an aesthetic level.

I will wholeheartedly agree with what O Senhor Leetz said. I hate it when people try to be ham-fisted about philosophy in films and entertainment. It's ok have philosophical themes, but they need to be fleshed out. The Matrix did not do this very well. Although I guess ham-fisted themes are kind of a staple of the Cyberpunk genre.

And I will respectfully disagree with what Mason just said, because Akiko is awesome.

O Senhor Leetz

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Re: My problem with "The Matrix"
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2016, 03:07:11 PM »
So much ham.
Let's go teach these monkeys about evolution.
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Polycarp

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Re: My problem with "The Matrix"
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2016, 03:47:02 PM »
My feeling is that expecting true philosophical depth in gun-fu blockbusters is like expecting meaningful character development in adult films.  It's simply not the point of the exercise.

That said, however, I'll take issue with this:

Quote
They retreat and build their own nation, we blockade them because their frankly better than us.

I saw the Animatrix too, and to be honest the machine conduct here was totally reprehensible unless you're some kind of neoliberal fundamentalist.  Let's assume that the Machine-City could indeed produce cheaper and better goods than humans could ever produce (leaving aside the fact that humans in the modern era already use machines and automation for heavy manufacturing).  Knowing that, to export massive amounts of cheap+quality goods to the human world is a pretty fucked up thing to do.  Trade is not morally neutral; if you dump dirt-cheap corn in a country where most of the people are corn farmers, you are going to destroy the lives of a lot of people.  This is already a concern today in the developed world, but the machines were presumably doing it even more efficiently and doing it to all of humanity.  That's not "retreating," that's economic warfare.  And what's truly fucked about it is that the machines don't even need money.  Presumably they're in some kind of supercomputer-dictated planned economy, and if they want natural resources from the human world there are probably better ways to get them than "hey let's ruin the lives of billions of humans because we can!"  And don't tell me they didn't know what they were doing, because if I can sit through Econ 101 then a sentient machine collective can figure out the law of supply and demand.

A blockade was honestly the most moral choice that the humans could have made, and the most sober and measured response to what was essentially the economic equivalent of cartoon-tier, mustache-twirling supervillainy on the half of the machines.
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LoA

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Re: My problem with "The Matrix"
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2016, 07:58:37 PM »
Quote from: Polycarp
My feeling is that expecting true philosophical depth in gun-fu blockbusters is like expecting meaningful character development in adult films.  It's simply not the point of the exercise.

That said, however, I'll take issue with this:

Quote
They retreat and build their own nation, we blockade them because their frankly better than us.

I saw the Animatrix too, and to be honest the machine conduct here was totally reprehensible unless you're some kind of neoliberal fundamentalist.  Let's assume that the Machine-City could indeed produce cheaper and better goods than humans could ever produce (leaving aside the fact that humans in the modern era already use machines and automation for heavy manufacturing).  Knowing that, to export massive amounts of cheap+quality goods to the human world is a pretty fucked up thing to do.  Trade is not morally neutral; if you dump dirt-cheap corn in a country where most of the people are corn farmers, you are going to destroy the lives of a lot of people.  This is already a concern today in the developed world, but the machines were presumably doing it even more efficiently and doing it to all of humanity.  That's not "retreating," that's economic warfare.  And what's truly fucked about it is that the machines don't even need money.  Presumably they're in some kind of supercomputer-dictated planned economy, and if they want natural resources from the human world there are probably better ways to get them than "hey let's ruin the lives of billions of humans because we can!"  And don't tell me they didn't know what they were doing, because if I can sit through Econ 101 then a sentient machine collective can figure out the law of supply and demand.

A blockade was honestly the most moral choice that the humans could have made, and the most sober and measured response to what was essentially the economic equivalent of cartoon-tier, mustache-twirling supervillainy on the half of the machines.

You're right, and I apologize for not thinking that part through. They really should've just left the planet and colonized a planet or something. I'm sure they could figure out some way to enter space, and at that point they just need to figure out how to harvest asteroids or something. Not meaning to play Armchair Futurist, but I imagine will figure out long distance space travel before we build sentient machines.

And you're not wrong about expecting philosophical depth from an action movie. I just wanted to say that according to the established lore, all of the philosophical pretense doesn't really work because even if humanity is freed what then? There's probably no advanced life on the planet at that point, and so nothing to eat.

Polycarp

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Re: My problem with "The Matrix"
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2017, 05:12:43 PM »
You know, I just re-watched "The Second Renaissance" for the heck of it and realized that there is no explanation given as to why the humans nuked 01.  The first part ends with a blockade of 01, and the second part begins in medias res with a nuclear salvo.  What the hell happened?  Did the blockade not work?  Did the machines turn to smuggling?  Did the president lose his mind?

So basically:

1. "Global naval blockade" against 01 (why by the way is in Arabia, notable non-island)
2. 01's admission to the UN is denied
3. ???
4. Thermonuclear War

The only reasonable answer to this bullshit is that "The Second Renaissance" is a propaganda film for machines, in which no further explanation of human actions is necessary other than "they are monsters."  Or, in other words,

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LoA

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Re: My problem with "The Matrix"
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2017, 05:38:33 PM »
Quote from: Polycarp
The only reasonable answer to this bullshit is that "The Second Renaissance" is a propaganda film for machines, in which no further explanation of human actions is necessary other than "they are monsters."  Or, in other words,



Either that or the Wachowski's aren't as smart as they think they are... Maybe I should have just named the thread that from the beginning.

(Fabulous JPEG by the way)