Movies from Swank: The Matrix

Will Sorg

The Matrix is arguably one of the most culturally influential films of the 90s. From the often-parodied bullet dodging sequence to the right-wing appropriation of the symbolism of red and blue pills that give the choice of staying in the Matrix or waking up, this is a film that has created innumerable discussions and quite literally changed the way blockbusters were made. However, for me and many others, this film has taken on a new life as a story of queer self-actualization. The directors, the Wachowski Sisters, are both trans women and Lilly Wachowski herself has said that the film is a trans allegory.
The story of Neo takes place in an oppressive system. The Matrix is a prison, a virtual dystopia that reflects our own world in how it breaks down people in crushing monotony and a gloom of depersonalization. Neo and those who work with him are
able to break through this by reclaiming their identity. Neo, formerly Thomas
Anderson, changes his name and when he first escapes from the Matrix he is metaphorically born again as a new person as he is pulled from his containment pod. Over time, Neo learns to embrace his new identity and by doing so he gains confidence in himself as well as overwhelming power. In the Matrix, becoming comfortable in your own identity manifests into literal superpowers. This gives the film some truly remarkable action sequences, but it is also a beautiful representation of the power that acceptance and security is so powerful for people in the LGBT+ community.
The main goal of The Matrix is to tell its audience the importance of rebellion
and creativity. The world is not what it seems, it is beyond binaries, it is beyond conventions. The antagonistic agents in the film and the reactionary traditionalists who try to restrict the rights of others in the real world are both afraid of the same thing, they are afraid of people reclaiming their identity and removing the power structures that have oppressed them. As Neo himself says in the film, “You’re afraid of us. You’re afraid of change.” The Wachowski Sisters’ film asserts that we have agency, that we are capable of great things through collective action and that love and self expression are some of the most powerful things that exist in this world. The Matrix is the beauty of queerness, the beauty of humanity and the beauty of the individual wrapped into one of the slickest action/sci-fi films ever made. Check it out if you haven’t already. You won’t regret it.