03 June, 2016

The matrix of love and persistence

Lana and Lilly Wachowski felt misfits in their assigned gender identity, and made a clean break. As did Neo when he took the red pill. No one should continue to live in a skin they don't feel like they belong in.

If the first Matrix movie ended with Neo (“Know Thyself”) accepting who he really was, the sequels were all about the uphill battle against the system of the binary.

We know that most of the world operates with two choices against gender — Male or Female.

The biggest battle the LGBT community faces is from within. They want to deny themselves their identity and love because it would lead to the end of their world as they know it. But choosing their safe haven over love IS denial.

Matrix Reloadedbegins with Neo’s biggest fear i.e. losing Trinity to the binary universe. Neo awakens from a bad dream (a premonition of Trinity falling to her death), we find Zion under threat from sentinels — the army of machines. If the first film was about the “the world that has been pulled over your eyes” by the system, the sequels were about the next stage of systemic attack — breaking into the safe haven of those who didn’t conform to the system of binary and lived underground. A majority of the LGBT community around the world prefers to live under the radar of the system given that laws in many countries — including India — still consider homosexuality and any form of non-heterosexual sex illegal.

The Wachowskis cast of mix of coloured, mixed-race and LGBT characters to establish Zion as the home for misfits, i.e. the last refuge for humans who rejected The Matrix. If the original film had the transgender Switch, this time around, the Wachoswkis throw in the butch-looking androgynous warrior Charra into the mix of the racially diverse, alternate gender/sexuality embracing crew.

Zion was a city located at the core of the earth, literally underground, as opposed to the remains of the post-apocalyptic wasteland on the earth’s surface controlled by machines. Facing imminent attack from the army of sentinels, Councillor Hamann, representing the fears of those who lived underground, or under the radar of The Matrix, admits, “I think about all those people still plugged into the Matrix and when I look at these machines... I can’t help thinking that in a way, we are plugged into them.” Neo replies, “But we control these machines, they don’t control us.”

The Wachowskis may be making a larger point about power structures, another pet theme of theirs, also explored in V for Vendetta. The Wachowskis love their heroes to take on the system because they truly believe that people CAN control the system and not let the system control them. In Reloaded, Neo was being hunted down by the system because he was the anomaly it apparently hadn’t accounted for. He was the rebel.

But what if he was just the token rebel created by the system that wanted complete control — even of the rebellion?

The system was a well-oiled machine that operated on the principles of causality. There was always a way out — a loophole-creator — or The Keymaker, who, in this case, could help you access the one who controls the system. “Choice is an illusion created between those with power and those without… beneath our poised appearance. The truth is, we are out of control,” the power-broker Merovingian tells Neo. The Merovingian is proof that the rich and famous control The Keymakers of the world. Neo had to save The Keymaker to find his way to the place that held the key to Zion’s salvation.

When Neo makes it to that inaccessible door, he meets the creator and designer of the system who, is quite simply, known as the Architect.

The Architect jolts Neo with his observation of this familiar situation: “Denial is the most predictable of human responses.” He explains that this very scene had already taken place a number of times before (six, to be specific) with Neo reacting differently to it each time. The Architect had contained the rebellion every single time because Neo had chosen denial before when presented with the choices: one that would lead him to Trinity and “the subsequent death of the human race,” and the other, to salvation and to Zion. The biggest battle the LGBT community faces is from within. They want to deny themselves their identity and love because it would lead to the end of their world as they know it. But choosing their safe haven over love WAS denial.

Compared to the first time he was offered a binary choice (flashback to Part 1 when he chose the red pill instead of the blue from Morpheus), Neo finally understands: “Choice. The problem is choice.”

He then chooses the door to his left — he chooses love — the one that takes him back to save Trinity, even though the Architect led him to believe that it would end his world and race.

As the scene from Neo’s subconscious plays out, Neo rushes to save Trinity after she’s shot. He touches her heart (quite literally as the visual effects show us him reaching her heart to revive it) and kisses her… and once again a kiss of life is imparted and Trinity is brought back from the dead. And Neo emphatically states, “I’m never letting go. I can’t. I just love you too damn much.”

Neo then tells Morpheus that the prophecy of the Chosen One was just a lie. “It was all another system of control.” Translation: They had to face the truth; they were hunted and had to stand up and fight. The myth of the Chosen One or the token rebel had been busted. They had to stand together and fight together.

* * *

In Matrix Revolutions, the final part of the trilogy begins with a lost Neo finding himself at a subway station.

In the light of Lana Wachowski’s admission that she once came close to throwing herself in front of a subway train because of her transgender angst, many critics have pointed out that this subway station scene had everything to do with her moment of truth. The Daily Mail reported, “As she prepared to throw herself in front of a subway train from an empty platform, an old man came in and stared at her, as she said, ‘He stares at me the way animals stare at each other. I don’t know why he wouldn’t look away. All I know is that because he didn’t, I am still here.’

As the Oracle spells it out, “He is trapped in a world between this world and the machine world. The link is controlled by a program called the Trainman.”

Was the Trainman a reference to the man who refused to look away? The man who saved her life? The trainman worked for the Merovingian, the man of science. So of course, only reason would save Neo’s life.

If it wasn’t for Trinity pointing a gun at the Merovingian and asking for Neo’s life back, Neo would practically be lost and possibly, dead. “It’s remarkable how similar the pattern of love is to the pattern to insanity,” the Merovingian observes.

And Neo rationalises while sitting at the subway station, “You got yourself in here. You can get out.” And the next moment, Trinity shows up and saves his life… yet again. Alienation had led Lana to suicide but this thought had probably saved her life. And life ultimately had given her the courage to come out as a transgender.

Caught in a loop of sorts, Neo revisits the Oracle again — the entity with all the answers; the spiritual leader. And she tells him that the only way out is to find Smith.

“What is he?” asks Neo.

“He is you.”

He had to battle his own demons. His awakening in the real world also wakes up to a fight with a Zion-crew-member, Bane, whose mind has been taken over by Smith. In the fight that ensues, Neo finds himself blinded.

Bane labels him as a ‘blind messiah’. But Neo is able to literally see through this; he sees that Agent Smith is nothing but a thought and kills it. When you need to see things clearly, maybe you just have to close your eyes and focus on what it is that you are truly fighting — just a thought cloned.

As the war rages on, Neo and Trinity fly their ship from the core of the earth to the sky. Neo surrenders to the all-powerful Source for peace and one last chance to stop Smith, who was now out of control. The answer, then, possibly lies in prayer.

In the epic battle that follows, Neo finds himself outnumbered by Smith and his clones. Regardless, he continues fighting a losing battle and it’s enough to frustrate Smith into asking him: “Why persist?”

“Because I choose to,” replies Neo. It was the only way to win.

The road to salvation, to sum up theMatrix films through the LGBT-lens, took this route: Know Thyself (The Matrix). Fight for love (The Matrix Reloaded). Persist (The Matrix Revolutions). TheMatrix movies may have been consumed by the world as a sci-fi action franchise made by the Wachowski Brothers, but in the light of their new identity as the Wachowski Sisters, the trilogy is simply a deeply personal statement; a record of the repressed transgender angst of a world coming to terms with its identity, choice and conformity.

Revisit the films. And shed a tear for Switch… or for Charra, who died fighting a losing battle.

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