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May 25, 2003

Black People in the Matrix, Reloaded

I was asked to assay the weight of blacks and people of color in the matrix: and so i said, in lower case:

that people of color are defaulted to the function of dancers & fighters for liberation struggle & fonts of motherwit is stereotypical. it's a happy type and i don't have a problem with it - i happen to like that one nation under a groove. you put cornel west into the mix and that's pretty suggestive of some seriousness. most people don't know or care that he was the head of a left political party. all that is familiar and cool, and to the a growing part of the mainstream.

but racializing the matrix is just too much. good and evil, sun people and ice people, the cold rationalizing Architect, images of Hitler (thank goodness i didn't see gwbush, that would have ruined the whole scene for me)? that's too much freight for a movie with lines like 'some things never change, and some do'.

there *are* four poles, four folks who get to extemporize about the meaning of things: the architect, the merovingian, agent smith and morpheus. the oracle on the other hand is more socratic, she doesn't really tell you where she's coming from which is so deft, and why her character is probably the most interesting in the film. (i heard she died recently - i hope she has plenty meat in the final show). but none of all that gets to the roots of anything particularly 'people of color'. zion is just humanity, it is not a particular humanity. so you can't make it an allegory for the particular struggles of 'people of color'. not that it couldn't work, just not in an action film.

the brothers w are not doing a spike lee here. everything is going to get wrapped up, so you can't get bogged down in open ended speculation about the meaning of this or that. bot meets girl, boy dies, loses girl, boy comes back to life, gets girl, girl dies, girl comes back to life, gets boy. the next episode is all about almost losing it all before the happy ending. maybe obi wan kenobi will say 'but there is another' and make us all scratch our heads. but i think it will be more of the same n-level reality trick with even cooler effects and more devastatingly dangerous programs. i mean the agents are starting to get tired, aren't they? (we'll probably get to see neo do hand to tentacle combat against a sentinel and then he'll throw his glow in the dark frisbee into the core and all the evil red programs will turn blue)

i don't want people talking about multicultural politics within the scope of this sci-fi fantasy. haven't we had enough french pomo hermaneutics? black folks are not inconsequential in this film, just in hollywood, and that's the name of that tune.

Posted by mbowen at May 25, 2003 07:12 PM

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if you think about it ... its just a part of the plot .. and not that of the Wachaski bros. to put forth some sort of controversy. Genetics play a HUGE part in people not becoming assimilated into the matrix .. since the blacks have a history of being slaves and fighting for liberation the genes remember and have a hard time accepting the program.

well that makes a little sense to me.

Posted by: z at October 15, 2003 09:14 PM

The Architect's explanation of the destruction and rebuilding of Zion makes a simple reason for there being a lot of black people in Zion.

Everytime the "One" returns to the source to allow the cycle to restart, he/she gets to choos 14 women and 7 men from the matrix to repopulate Zion for another incarnation. Obviously, the previous "One" slected mostly black people to be the 21 new Zionists.

Why is it when there are more than 3 black people doing anything positive or any black person is in a position of power or achievment, there has to be some "special" explanation for it occurring? At the end of the day we are just people, but that view appears to never be acceptable. Rarely does that "special" explanation ever give us credit or any level of respect.

Posted by: craig at November 6, 2003 09:26 AM

maybe all the blacks survived b/c they're so hard to run off

Posted by: ch at November 13, 2003 11:14 AM

craig, why would there be a "one" that would choose blacks to repopulate? the "one" is supposed to be top-of-the-line...not a bumbling idiot.

Posted by: h at November 13, 2003 11:17 AM

come to think of it there were alot of blacks every where

Posted by: Kmckia at December 7, 2003 07:27 PM

[quote]if you think about it ... its just a part of the plot[end quote]

Now there's a thought....one I happen to agree with.

I think the superior numerical presence of POC [people pf colour] over whites in The Matrix's 'Zion' is related to the degree to which each group benefits or suffers within today's political and commericial paradigm that is the 'Global Pillage' in real life...and all the way back to colonial times....500 or so years ago, even though in the Matrix, you live an ideal life, regardless of your particular ethnic origin.

You need to look deeper than the surface, apropos of which blacks/people of colour outnumber whites in the movie, as the true bumbling idiots are wont to do.

In any case, in terms of proportions, that is the true phenotypical make up of humanity.

I know it scares the crap out of some whites to consider this truth which goes part of the way in explaining why whites, as a people, are so aggressive towards others.

Superimpose the Matrix over the European imperialist hegemony [the aforementioned Global Pillage - the system] evident today [with its attempts to illegally force all else into submission] and you'll understand what the film is trying to say.

Hence Morpheus' speech before the dance scene.

"We are still here!"

I say 'European hegemony' because of the G8 countries, headed by the US, and its use of the World Bank and IMF to weaken developing countries with astronomical debt and proven to fail time and again SAP's [structural adjustment programs].

I won't even get into the evidence strongly suggesting that AIDS is man made with a higher affinity for Africans and it's true origins are with nazi scientists taken into the American fold so that they could continuing their deranged work under the watchful eye of the U.S., for the United States' use.

Perhaps you might want to do some research on these things, then again perhaps not.

Then there's bogus accusations of countries manufacturing weapons of mass destruction as a pretext to go steal other people's oil.

You get the contemporary picture.

"We are still here!"

Neither are they claiming [as I read one short sighted fool say] that blacks/people of colour are more intelligent/capable than whites, the movie contained intelligent white characters on a par with everyone else.

What they are saying in my opinion is that historically speaking, people of colour [for instance, but not limited to, people of African descent and Native Americans] have been made to suffer culturally, spiritually, politically and with regards to economics in the interests of European predatorial greed, financial profit and hatred both tangible and manifest.

So it makes perfect sense that people of colour would be the ones most likely to be searching for a way of escaping 'the system'.

Or, at the very least, POC would be more open to the concept in general while whites, who as a people, have benefitted immensely from the sufferings of non whites, psychologically as well as financially etc, would be less willing to accept that anything was wrong.

So it can be argued that Zion's POC-white ratio is an allegory for the political realities in force today.

POC are looking for that way out and thus, more sensitive to it.

Remember the first movie?

You have to make the CHOICE to leave the matrix...why leave where you are relatively comfortable, it would be a hard thing to do.

You only have to witness whites [not just politicians but everyday, ordinary members of the public]in their refusal to acknowledge the evils of the past in that they continue in the same vain today around the world [the military machine, WE WANT YOU!]and their refusal in toto, to support reparations to descendants of the Trans Atlantic Slave trade for instance, to see that they have trouble seeing that what they did was wrong nevermind that something is wrong with reality itself.

I know some whites suffer too in real life and find themselves in the bottom socio-economic rungs, hence the presence of whites in Zion, fighting 'the system' in the film...just as there are whites fighting the system in real life.

There you go.

Anyway, what are you complaining about? [this is to any white that has a problem with the Matrix reloaded due to the colour balance].

People of colour have been marginalised and dehumanized within cinema and television since its inception.

One big budget mainstream movie comes along where blacks are the majority and portrayed as capable, intelligent leaders and human beings and you whites start whinging, well some of you do.


And as far as all the evil sentinels being white goes, POC have been portrayed in cinema as good for nothing but crime and little else for nigh on 80 odds years....with little regard for the need to balance this, so quit whinging and DEAL WITH IT!

If you don't like it, go see 'Lord of the Rings' which was regarded by one scholar as racist,who was then referred to as a POMPOUS ASS or the like for daring to find fault with the film, book and author.

Go see that and watch white people save the day against the Dark Lord Sauron and his equally dark skinned wild men cronies with their 'foul beasts from the south'.

That'll be right up your alley.

Posted by: POC at February 29, 2004 09:02 AM

[quote]You have to make the CHOICE to leave the matrix...why leave where you are relatively comfortable, it would be a hard thing to do.[end quote]

Amendment: Disregard the above statement as I neglected to delete it before I posted.

Posted by: POC at February 29, 2004 09:48 AM

And further, as regards the phenotypical uniformity of the sentinels [ie, they are all white], having superimposed the Matrix on our own reality and realised the movie's numercial asymmetries reflect differing degrees of ethnic malcontent in our world, one can begin to realise that the sentinels are meant to represent those who both stood and stand to gain MOST [in accordance with Machiavellian political theory] from a preservation of 'the system' in our own reality, in terms of political, psychological, economic and military power,

Posted by: POC at March 1, 2004 08:05 PM