Movie Retrospective: ‘The Matrix’ is an Anthem for Wokeness in an Era of Social Injustice

Arriving at the end of the 20th century, “The Matrix” casted its irreplicable conceptual brilliance into cinematic history. As one of the few synopses that can level Christopher Nolan’s eminent brain twists, this film voyages into the core of humanity, exploring the relationships between comfort and ignorance, freedom and slavery, and faith and doubt.

Twenty-two years later, the boundaries of these opposing concepts have slithered closer together, and in some cases, they grew to become one. In a world where political brainwashing has infiltrated the lives of countless people, the mind-refreshing purpose of “The Matrix” desperately resurfaces in our society. The film constructs a dystopian world set in the future, where current dilemmas of the human race are amplified and darkened. Ranging from ethical issues intertwined with the advancement of artificial intelligence to environmental deterioration and climate change, this film ghastly depicts the consequences of our actions, serving as a distress cannon fired into our foggy night sky.

Most of all, amidst our ongoing battle against systemic racism and all forms of social injustice, the Plato’s Cave Allegory portrayed by “The Matrix” adapts to a new purpose—a wakeup call for those who are deep in their slumber of ignorance.

Utilizing the audience’s human nature to the storyline’s advantage, the film commences from the fabricated world of the matrix, a tactic that allows the audience to develop empathy before the protagonist, Neo (Keanu Reeves), transitions into the real world. This way, the audience is deceived alongside Neo, which helps them fully grasp how convincing and real the matrix may seem.

As the plot escalates, audiences soon gape in horror as they discover that in this future world, human bodies and minds are used as batteries to power a ruling race of A.I. machines, which have redesigned Earth into a world intolerant of freed humans. In a twist of ironic tragedy, this means that every human participating in the matrix simulation—the ultimate power source for the A.I. race that collects electricity from human bodies—is directly fuelling the oppression of themselves.

Mirrored into our current world, the relationship between the machines and humans in the film corresponds to the relationship between the oppressors and the oppressed. Over the past centuries, governments and organizations have structured entire nations so that the oppressed have little room to combat their oppression, eradicating nearly all possibility for them to challenge the inhumane power hierarchy. In many cases similar to “The Matrix”, countries that utilize propaganda to control the judgements of their victims lead to “enslaved” people passionately believing that they live in freedom and possibility.

As dystopian as this current reality may seem at first glance, it is all around us, portrayed in varying forms in different countries. In some cases, groups of enslaved people have progressed to recognize the danger of their given default world. However, because of the deadly ignorance from people around them, this unpopularized knowledge becomes their abyss of misery. Soon, some would choose to recoil back to their comfort of ignorance, since they believe there is no point in fostering divulging and bothersome thoughts if they cannot momentarily lead to change or rebellion. Indeed, Cypher (Joe Pantoliano) from “The Matrix” experienced this regret over entering reality, and soon became driven by the belief that ignorance is bliss. For him, that desire was so consuming, that he was willing to betray the entire crew and destroy any hope for humans to ever be free.

Although this situation seems bleak from the present, the future is still unfolding, and there are areas that can be rewritten by our united strive for changemaking. As emphasized by Morpheus, the procedure of awareness and liberation needs to occur at an early age, before the prisoners’ cognition becomes solidified and unalterable, since childhood is when a person’s curiosity fosters room for open-mindedness. In many ways, this shines light on the urgency to improve education systems worldwide, since the schooling years is the window that allows for this shift in perspective.

With that being said, it is evident that the themes of “The Matrix” deeply resonate within our society, deeming the film a good representational model for all that needs to be done in our world. The social injustices that occurred over the past decades have reached a new peak of heightened visibility, and the responsibility lies in those who are free of “mental slavery” to wake everyone up to the real world and serve as the forces of change. After all, our only chance at resolving the social injustices of this reality is built upon the prerequisite that all humans have stepped out of the matrix’s deceit.

Now, it is more important than ever to realize that “The Matrix” is an experience of philosophical enlightenment disguised in the familiarity of a cinema screen. The power of this film will forever spark contemplation within its viewers, and when we unite as the habitants of reality, these dispersed sparks will blaze into the flame of change.