Zachary Leeman is a US-based journalist and author of the novel Nigh.
‘The Matrix’ co-director Lilly Wachowski is claiming the classic science fiction fantasy was always intended to be an allegory for transgender struggles, making her the latest artist to give into woke revisionism.
1999’s ‘The Matrix’ is perhaps one of the most written-about films in history. Its story of reality being an artificial design by dominating machines and characters being chosen to ‘wake up’ from the false world into the real one, where humans battle machines, lends itself to endless theories.
Wachowski put all that theorizing to bed this week, however, by claiming the film was always intended to be an allegory for the experience of a transgender person.
“I’m glad that it’s gotten out that that was the original intention,” she said, in an Netflix interview promoting the documentary ‘Disclosure.’ “The world wasn’t quite ready, at a corporate level…the corporate world wasn’t ready for it [at the time].”
While this revisionist thinking has earned plenty of praise from social justice warriors looking to only view art through the prism of modern woke standards, others have groaned at the idea of the film’s meaning suddenly being carved in stone over 20 years after its initial release.
“A creator telling people what their creation *really* meant years after the fact with no canonical indication of it can be safely disregarded, especially if the retcon aligns with a currently-trendy social narrative,” podcaster Noah Blum tweeted. He went on to compare the ‘revelation’ by Wachowski to author JK Rowling, saying (years after the series’ publication) that various ‘Harry Potter’ characters were actually intended to have different races or sexual orientations than people thought, or that were then portrayed in the hit film series.
A 1st year art student goes into group Crit, presents her work with a rather obvious, boilerplate, generic intention, and receives a more interesting read of her work. She goes “y-yeah, exactly.. that’s exactly what i wanted to communicate since the start, ha ha” https://t.co/teGJmC6NTs
— ☦️ 𝕻𝖞𝖙𝖍𝖎𝖆 ᴿᴬᴳᴱᑫDᵢ̄ᵥ 𝕾𝖍𝖎𝖙𝖈𝖔𝖎𝖓 ☦️ (@PartyPrat) August 5, 2020
That woke revisionism landed with a thud with fans, who saw it as little more than pandering in an attempt to keep a franchise relevant in an increasingly politically correct world.
To be fair to Wachowski, she and her sister both came out as transgender in the years that followed the release of their science fiction classic. There is little doubt some of those feelings they had on their journeys bled into their writing. But Wachowski also admits in the same video that, at the time they were writing ‘The Matrix,’ the ideas of being transgender were not consciously formed in public dialogue or in their own minds. This defeats the idea of now stamping the story as a transgender allegory.
This is not to say one can not theorize ‘The Matrix’ is a transgender allegory. It’s one of many readings one can surmise from the story. The theorizing and battling definitions for art that become part of public dialogue speaks to the power of the ambiguousness of storytelling.
This is also, however, where there is a problem with Wachowski’s sudden reveal. While she says she enjoys ‘The Matrix’ being part of this “public dialogue,” she has pushed back against those she disagrees with taking their own meanings from the story. Conservatives and libertarians have specifically latched onto a line in ‘The Matrix’ and used it to describe ‘waking up’ from liberalism or allegiance to government authority.
Being “red-pilled,” which is the pill ‘Matrix’ protagonist Neo chooses to take to wake up from his digital slumber, has become part of the “public dialogue” Wachowski says she approves of, but when the line was used by SpaceX founder Elon Musk and Ivanka Trump, her response was simply, “f**k both of you.”
Apparently, Musk and Trump are not allowed to take any meaning from the world of ‘The Matrix.’
And therein lies the hypocrisy of the situation. Wachowski enjoys her work being part of the “public dialogue” as long as that dialogue agrees with her worldview. In fact, she feasts on it since 20 years later, she’s now keeping her work relevant with liberals, thanks to the reveal that its “original intention” was to be a trans allegory. One look at reactions on Twitter and it appears this is the only acceptable reading of the movie allowed now.
i wonder if this, finally, will be enough to get cis film critics and film bros to stop arguing with trans women when we explain The Matrix to them https://t.co/QoENIC4Oly
— anna phylaxis (@quatoria) August 5, 2020
“You’ve been living in a dream world, Neo”.This is such a gag. Us trans folk have known this for YEARS, but it’s so great that it’s being confirmed in this time where transphobes are so loud.The Matrix is about transitioning and that’s on PERIODT.https://t.co/o90uscRBUd
— Protect Trans Kids / BLM ✊🏾 (@MunroeBergdorf) August 6, 2020
This woke revisionism of art only works to alienate fans and to box in art; and whenever such revisionism happens to attach itself to some modern, trendy topic, it should be taken with not a grain of salt, but an entire truckload. It comes across as little more than virtue signaling to earn praises for being part of whatever social movement is gathering national attention.
Saying ‘The Matrix’ is a trans allegory is not wrong. It’s a worthwhile interpretation of the film. Saying it’s the only interpretation is simply harmful to art in general. And the creator herself confirming this is the only reading is valuing politics above storytelling.
This perfectly-timed revelation from Wachowski comes across as just as hollow and self-serving as those ‘Matrix’ sequels everyone has been trying so hard to forget for years. Don’t worry, though. Coincidentally, there is also a fourth ‘Matrix’ movie in the works and set to hit theaters – if those are ever a thing again – next year. Sounds like a pretty good reason to try and kick up conversation about why the 1999 film is oh-so-relevant today.
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