The year was 1999, and the new, sexy, mysterious film The Matrix became a sleeper hit after its fantasy/sci-fi setting and darkly adventurous tone blew the minds of thousands and asked some serious existential questions.
You can watch the trailer here.
The Matrix (1999) Official Trailer #1 - Sci-Fi Action Movie www.youtube.com
Ever since, several terms from the film have entered the collective unconscious. Among those terms are the "red pill or blue pill" dilemma, "going down the rabbit hole," "there is no spoon," etc.
But did you know that it has also been received as—and now confirmed to have been—a trans allegory?
Co-director Lilly Wachowski, who came out as trans in 2016 (and who directed the film with her sister Lana, who also came out as trans in 2010) has now confirmed this reading of the piece.
Why The Matrix Is a Trans Story According to Lilly Wachowski | Netflix www.youtube.com
Wachowski said that the film is about "the desire for transformation, but...all coming from a closeted point of view." In an original draft of the script, the character Switch would have changed genders in and out of the matrix.
"I don't know how present my trans-ness was in the background of my brain as we were writing it, but it all came from the same sort of fire that I'm talking about," Wachowski said.
the matrix is trans dont @ me— def (@def) 1596677366.0
anyways my favourite movie is the best yet again https://t.co/rYfcaDt2Pr— adam shay 🏴🧷 (@adam shay 🏴🧷) 1596677280.0
I was today years old when I found out about this https://t.co/4INVgAEZ3u— B. Dave Walters: I Say Words About Things (@B. Dave Walters: I Say Words About Things) 1596672874.0
The analysis of the narrative of The Matrix as a transgender allegory includes some of the more important plot elements as key factors, such as [SPOILER ALERT] the sense in Neo's mind that something is always off (the "splinter" in his bran), the fact that Neo's friends and allies refer to him as Neo but authority and society within the Matrix refer to him as Mr. Anderson (with heavy emphasis on the Mr.) and the fact that Neo's first real victory only shows up when he claims his identity as Neo.
Not to mention the rather on-the-nose reference of "conversion therapy," which aims to force outliers like Neo to function in the way society wants them to.
Can’t believe that cis people didn’t know the matrix was a trans story I mean I can believe they didn’t know, but… https://t.co/HpkyUTjGVQ— OmnipoTina 💈 (@OmnipoTina 💈) 1596653561.0
The Matrix said TRANS RIGHTS https://t.co/abUMRZ1tgi— 🌻 Harley, B/L/M ✊🏼✊🏾✊🏿 (he/him) (@🌻 Harley, B/L/M ✊🏼✊🏾✊🏿 (he/him)) 1596662190.0
There are things that being trans helps you to understand - such as the nature of reality. https://t.co/1oPyyK2U7S via @io9— 🌿 (@🌿) 1596674187.0
Wachowski said that, though her closeted trans brain was definitely present in the writing of the piece, corporate America was not ready for a film like her original penning of The Matrix, hence the intense coding.
Still, it has resonated with trans fans for years.
"I really like the Matrix films for being a rare example of genuinely subversive popular art. Almost all popular art is inherently conservative, as it reflects and reinforces the worldview of the majority of audiences. It frequently presents itself as revolutionary, but always either frames itself through the worldview of conservative audiences, as with The Hunger Games, or sanitizes, commodifies and depoliticises the groups and struggles it professes to celebrate, as with Rent and Les Miserables. The Matrix cleverly subverts this however, concealing the struggles of an actual oppressed minority within a thrilling action movie. And audiences all over the world loved every minute of it."~The Matrix As Transgender Metaphor
From now on "taking the red pill" means supporting trans rights. @lilly_wachowski https://t.co/vOTmVz2IRC— POPDUST (@POPDUST) 1596665081.0
Me in 1999: The Matrix has amazing bullet time shots Me in 2020: The Matrix is 10000% a trans metaphor, from stem… https://t.co/jqVNyd5jaF— Ⓥ Half An Unkindness 🖤🤍💜 (@Ⓥ Half An Unkindness 🖤🤍💜) 1596664517.0
I love how a couple months ago I tweeted about the Matrix being a trans allegory and got flooded with cis people te… https://t.co/xEaxlTkKH5— Erin, boycotting Arkansas businesses (@Erin, boycotting Arkansas businesses) 1596630666.0
It's official, brothers and sisters and those that lieth elsewhere: The Matrix is a trans allegory. https://t.co/I6CuwgceGE— Hug Me (temporarily do not hug me) (@Hug Me (temporarily do not hug me)) 1596586100.0
i wonder if this, finally, will be enough to get cis film critics and film bros to stop arguing with trans women wh… https://t.co/K5CFg61eK4— anna phylaxis (@anna phylaxis) 1596602863.0
"I love how meaningful those films are to trans people and the way that they come up to me and say, 'These movies saved my life,'" reflected Wachowski.
"Because when you talk about transformation, specifically in the world of science fiction, which is just about imagination and world building and the idea of the seemingly impossible becoming possible, I think that's why it speaks to them so much."
We know what you're thinking, and the answer is YES, it is time to rewatch The Matrix.