Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Enter The Matrix

It's getting close to the Oscars, and I mentioned Avatar a few posts ago. You all remember Avatar, right? That enormous cash cow with the big blue aliens and the over-the-top environmental message from a few years ago? The one that took in huge amounts of money from stunned moviegoers as it hammered home the message that consumerism and exploitation is evil?

Or am I describing any one of the thousands of movies Hollywood churns out year after year where the little guy takes on the greedy corporation that puts profits before people and wins?

There is a clear and categorical difference between those on the left and those on the right, not just about economics or social issues, but regarding the nature of reality itself.

We think that governments and other people telling us what to think is bad because people are smart enough to make their own decisions.

They think the "reality" we perceive is created by people with too much power- advertisers, corporations, and the like- and they are so good at it that people like us can't even tell that we're being manipulated. Against this backdrop, things like culture and upbringing and peer groups and stuff like that is water under the bridge. It's ALL corporations. Governments, of course, are useless in fighting corporations because corporations have too much money.

I would argue that corporations seek government protection because they know governments have absolute power and corporations don't, but this argument doesn't get you very far for some reason.

Now, I'm not the biggest fan of corporations myself. I believe that corporations should be kept away from government at all costs. I think critically about messages I receive from advertising and TV. I believe that basic assumptions about power should be questioned. But I simply do not believe that we are living in The Matrix where corporations dictate what we think without us even being aware of it. And because I don't, I'm just another cog in the invisible corporate infrastructure.

Now that you understand that this is how leftists see reality, it's a lot less cool, isn't it? 

When Avatar was an ass-kicking action film with pretty colours, people loved it. When it became a preachy sermon about man's duty to his fellow man (or alien, as it were), people got bored. They realized that whoever directed this sludge thought they were smarter than the people watching it. That the film's creators had realized some higher truth about the nature of reality and that it was their duty to inform all of us peons that we had been lied to since birth.

FYI: If you go to see a movie and it contains some actor making an overwrought speech packed with big words about how corporations are bad, that's because the person writing or directing the film considers themselves to have an exalted understanding of what humanity is really about. They have literally freed their minds from The Matrix and they want to free your mind too (whether you want to have it freed or not). You paid twenty bucks for a movie ticket and the pleasure of having your mind expanded beyond your narrow self-interest that keeps the corporate slavemasters on top.

And that's why Avatar lost the Oscar for Best Picture that year to The Hurt Locker- a film that presented a much more nuanced picture of war, focused on character development instead of weird looking people making pompous speeches on the nature of reality, and treated its audience like intelligent people by shutting the hell up and letting them draw their own conclusions. 

Incidentally, the people who made The Matrix- the Wachkowskis- still haven't figured out that people go to movies to be entertained, not to hear leftist wargle bargle about the interconnectedness of people and the duty we have to rise up against evil corporations. I went and saw their latest, "Cloud Atlas", a few weeks ago. I won't spoil it for you, but there is a point in the film where a character provides all of humanity with the (explicitly religious, at least in the film's world) revelation that, "Our lives are not our own; from womb to tomb we are bound to others." Meanwhile, the bad people in the movie are fond of saying, "The weak are meat and the strong do eat." Real subtle, Wachowskis.

Hollywood has to understand that we'll free our minds when we're damn well ready, or not at all.

1 comment:

  1. Actually I think Avatar lost because Hollywood knows James Cameron and can't stand him. Probably why his ex-wife got an Oscar too - though I think Zero Dark Thirty is better than the Hurt Locker which was pretty good. Also if I were a terrorist the torture in the Bin Laden film and the political cowardice wouldn't impress me about the resolve of the United States.

    Yes, those evil corporations keep turning up in comic books now too.