The Long Firm Grip of The Matrix
I spend about 4.77% of my waking life thinking about the next great sci-fi idea. (Which is a lot when you consider 33.52% is spent on food and 44.32% is spent on how & when will my privates be touched.) I don’t think about little sci-fi ideas like floating cars or red matter; I focus on the big sci-fi matzah ball: ‘how will humans evolve?’ You know, the era-defining, franchise building ideas!
While reading books, watching movies and taking long walks I ponder the next great evolution idea. Every once in a while I’ll get a flash, related to something like nanotech. or body modification, only for that idea to become ‘The Matrix’…
The Wachowskis and their groundbreaking Matrix property have dominated the sci-fi human evolution arena for almost twenty years. I’m not alone in this writer’s dilemma, many go through the same idea vortex I go through. You have a spark, do the research, start planning story beats and it’s ‘The Matrix’…
Now don’t get bent out of shape; I already know all the material that came before ‘The Matrix’. The idea of a digital evolution did not start in a south Chicago walk-up with The Wachowskis. ‘Ghost in the Shell’, ‘Simulacra and Simulation’ all have their place, but The Wachowskis put previous ideas into a complete & entertaining package that is the gold standard.
And the siblings’ mental & physical obsession with philosophy & perception give ‘The Matrix’ such depth and reach. They have basically ‘owned’ human evolution in sci-fi films for a generation.
The difficulty of finding an evolutionary concept that is not ‘The Matrix’ means you have to go against just about every advancement in the news. Every other day a new breakthrough leads us one step closer to ‘The Matrix’.
Conquering the ‘unheroic, physical weakness of man’ in the cinematic landscape is another reason ‘The Matrix’ so great. Cinema is a growing thing that has to be larger than its predecessor. The public demands every hero and battle must be larger than the one from six months ago. Unfortunately, on the silver screen, human bodies are in peril simply driving a car much less fighting a towering baddie.
This unbelievable mix of frailty versus threat makes action films laughable. ‘The Matrix’ found a way to solve this by conducting battles within the collective mind; ‘mankind’ is once again the hero of ‘his own dreams’. So I dream up stories, galactic battles, which become ‘The Matrix’…
I will keep taking long walks searching for my spin on human evolution. Looking over the horizon for that next great sci-fi idea. If you can help me in my search I would be most appreciative.