I honestly would not have *cared* about The Matrix without Laurence Fishburne’s Morpheus, the Oracle, Niobe, Lock, the love story between Link and Zee.. yeah Neo and Trinity were very cool and all but they were never cool enough to carry these movies on their own.
Why was first Matrix “so cool”? It wasn’t mainly the visual effects or the costumes or the green tint. It was always BLACK PEOPLE. And especially Laurence Fishburne.
You do the same exact film(s) without any leading Black characters and especially without Laurence Fishburne and you would have gotten a technically dazzling movie that no one cared about.
I will also say that the first Matrix and to some extent 2 and 3 are actually remarkable in terms of how Black and Brown characters are represented in the Wachowskis’ ouvre. You don’t get that same energy in anything else they’ve ever done.
Of course Cloud Atlas was a yellowface disaster. And while I really loved aspects of Sense8 (especially how consciousness and interconnection were illustrated), the series also had a lot of cringe in terms of racialized dynamics and the representation of Black and Brown people..
As I’ve written previously, The Matrix was distinctive for its time in terms of showing us a future that reflects the demographics of our species — a future that is, like our present and past, predominantly non-white. You don’t get that at all in Sense8, which is rather strange.
But it’s this underappreciated aspect of The Matrix series that sets it apart from most Hollywood sci fi including major franchises like Star Trek and Star Wars..
Like Star Trek, The Matrix appears to show us a real world that’s evolved beyond racial hierarchy but doesn’t explicitly explain how that happened or address racism directly at all. We’re supposed to presume it has something to do with the war and prospects of facing extinction..
Here’s an excellent write up about the power of Black characters in The Matrix.. vice.com/en/article/z3n…
For me, part of the problem with #TheMatrixResurrections is that the films’ Black actors truly are not interchangeable. Yaya was fantastic but it was impossible to avoid the conclusion that his character was conceived as a derivative and replacement..
It would have been better, both in terms of the story and in terms of the racial politics of storytelling, to have created an entirely new, leading role for Yaya or another Black actor that had nothing to do with Morpheus. The writing for this new character was very ill-conceived
The new Matrix is still a “Black ass film” by comparison to other Hollywood sci fi flicks made by white people — you still see humanity represented as predominately Black and Brown. But the decision to re-produce Morpheus in this way was disappointing at best, offensive at worse.
Again, Yaya is very cool and his character is interesting. But after watching #TheMatrixResurrections twice I still don’t fully understand what’s going on with him but what I do understand is kind of silly and lacks the gravitas that Fishburne’s Morpheus brought to the trilogy.
You get the sense that the filmmakers tried to respect the character arcs for Neo and Trinity but just gave up with Morpheus and that’s really a shame.
The reason we cared about The Matrix is that Morpheus cared about the Matrix. He is the reason every character in the film either chose to believe or chose to believe in something else. Fishburne’s Morpheus was the lifeblood and electricity that gave the prior films their stakes.
People who say the new Matrix doesn’t have any real stakes are correct insofar as Neo and Trinity *only really matter* on the basis of Morpheus’ belief. Their love story doesn’t work, doesn’t have real power without Morpheus’ faith and love for humanity itself..

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More from @alwaystheself

23 Dec
Final thoughts about #TheMatrix for tonight. The first film is undeniably one of the best movies ever made. And even though I didn't like the 2nd or 3rd, the fact is, the trilogy is one of the most ambitious efforts to delve into profound philosophical ideas on screen -- ever. +
I have distinct perspectives on The Matrix as a fan and as a writer. Like many fans, I was very disappointed by the sequels (until Resurrections). But as a writer and creator.. I have so much fucking respect for the Wachowskis willing their imagination into our actual lives.
Matrix 2 and 3 reminded me that the purpose of art and the purpose of writing is not to please the public. The purpose of art is to express the vision of its creator. Whatever people have to say about that vision is not the artist's business, so to speak..
Read 11 tweets
19 Dec
If I'm being honest, The Matrix has always resonated with me on a spiritual level even more deeply than Star Trek. One of the reasons I haven't written much about that is my own personal grief over the third film in particular..
What I have always loved so much about The Matrix is the way the films grapple with two fundamental existential questions that I have also been grappling with since my teenage years: (1) what is the nature of reality and (2) what is our true identity?
Listened to an interview today with Lana Wachowski from 20 years ago where she touched on her own interest in non dual awareness. Some of you may know that I have written about my own longstanding interest in nonduality both on my old blog and in some of my scholarship..
Read 22 tweets
1 Nov
The problem is not that antiracists aim to make white people feel “guilty” - the problem is that white people who aren’t involved in antiracism often interpret discomfort as “being called a bad person”, which they in turn weaponize to shut down antiracist discourse and policies.
(It is also true that white people who are “involved in antiracism” can and often do interpret critique of their own complicity as an attack on their sense of being a good person)
If mentioning structural racism or white supremacy makes a white person personally feel “bad” or “guilty”, that’s not my aim but it’s also not my problem. That’s a problem for white people to wrestle with and answer: “Why do I feel uncomfortable acknowledging reality?” Good luck!
Read 5 tweets
19 Aug
Faculty should remember: The choices we make about our physical and mental health have an impact on our students and our community as well. If we choose to sacrifice our wellbeing, we are also choosing to sacrifice our community's wellbeing. These decisions are interconnected..
And if we choose, as faculty, to "go along" with the bullshit messaging and policies from our employers that are designed to put profits over people, rather than openly and publicly challenging those policies, we are complicit with the disease and death that will surely follow.
Every educator should be asking: 1) How can we protect our mental and physical health in the midst of an ongoing pandemic? 2) What legal and labor resources can support us in challenging inhumane policies? 3) What pedagogical decisions can we make to promote health and wellbeing?
Read 6 tweets
29 Jul
A few more thoughts on this before I get back to what I'm working on.. but the idea that humans could quasi-permanently evolve beyond scarcity and oppression within a couple of hundred years after literally 200,000 years of foolishness is white/Eurocentric/enlightenment nonsense.
The question of what it would take in terms of social, political, moral, technological, material and spiritual transformation to get anything resembling a post-scarcity, post-racist future is really important to grapple with in concrete detail rather than wishes, hopes and dreams
What Kimberlé Crenshaw’s critique of Trek really underscores is how magical thinking about the racial future is not merely the province of science fiction — it’s the epistemic norm .. this is what Mills referred to as epistemological ignorance..
Read 9 tweets
25 Jul
Right now our situation is that students are not currently required to get vaccinations and faculty are being forced to teach in person unless we sacrifice our privacy and provide documentation of health concerns (because apparently the pandemic itself is not enough of a concern)
We have a union and we’re working on it, but that’s the current situation. When faculty began to organize for mask and social distancing mandates as well as online options, we were told that students would be required to get vaxxed. That’s no longer the case — for now, at least..
Within SUNY, a vaccine mandate for students was contingent upon FDA approval. That approval has not been granted as of yet. We’re now one month from the start of the semester..
Read 4 tweets

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