The Matrix – something about Postmodernism

31 Jul

Last week, I stayed at home and watched a Hollywood movie – The Matrix.

In the film, when Neo met the mysterious underground hacker Morpheus, Morpheus inform Neo the situation that humanity is fighting a war against intelligent machines created in the early 21st century.

Morpheus: This is the Construct, is our loading program. We can load anything from clothing to equipment, weapons, training simulation, anything needed.

Neo: Right now we are sitting in computer programme?.

Morpheus: Is it really so hard to believe? Your clothes are differen;, the claw of your arms has gone;, your hair changes. Your appearance now is what we call self-image is a mental projection of your digital cell.

Neo: It isn’t real?

Morpheus: What is “real”? How do you define “real”? If you talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste, what you can see, then real is simply electric signal interpreted by your brain.

From the script, we can find that Neo was confused about the “reality” in the constructed world. Morpheus pointed out that all the things had been loaded by the program, which means “that’s not real and just the copy”. But Neo can touch, see and feel those “unreal things” just like the real thing. For example, he sees the soft and touches the texture and feels it in the movie. The passage of dialogue introduced to the audience the two important ideas of Baudrillard, “Stimulation” and “Hyperrealism”.

Jean Baudrillard argues that the obvious distinction between original and copy was damaged in postmodernism. He takes “Mona Lisa”, “Johnny Too Bad” and “Dead Man Walking in Newcastle” as examples to demonstrate his point of “stimulation and simulacrum”. It means anything is made up and there are no original source and image, etc. All are copies pretending to the real. For example CD or DVD are all mere mass produced copies. It brings us to another theory of Baudrillard, “Hyperrealism”, which suggests that because of media influence, we cannot find out what is the reality in our fantasy world. We cannot differentiate the reality and fantasy because of mass media. Take “Disneyland” as an example. Disneyland is a ‘hyperreal’, which presents as created reality incorporated into this world. (John; 1998; P177-182)

You become part of the fantasy yourself. We are now all living in ‘hyperreal’world, aren’t we?

Reference reading:

John Storey, ‘An Introduction to Cultural Theory and Popular Culture’,(University of Georgia Press, 1998)


Howard, lam siu ho


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