There aren’t a lot of people that would look at a movie like The Matrix and think the same way that Patton Oswalt does, that the machines were actually being fairly benevolent in giving humans a world to live in where they didn’t have to worry about the world their ancestors left behind in order to get something in return. To really get the point of this a person might have to watch The Animatrix and find the two episodes that deal with the why and how of the Matrix being created, basically an outline of human arrogance and ignorance towards their own creations, the machines. The sad part is that humans are the architects of their own downfall in the Matrix, as Patton kind of alluded to and Kevin Burwick of MovieWeb might actually agree with in part. After all, stating that Cypher was right about telling Morpheus what to do with the red pill is likely what some people might say after being told that the earth is essentially uninhabitable thanks to the fact that it’s covered by a pervasive darkness that the ancients caused. Ever notice that? Morpheus definitely states that humans were the problem when it came to darkening the skies and it’s understood that human hands created the Matrix in the first place, but the blame for humanity’s problems are still rested squarely on the mechanical shoulders of the Matrix.
Are the agents to be exonerated? Oh hell no, and Cypher’s still a piece of trash for the betrayal he pulled, but it was a practical move on his part, no matter how wrong it was. As far as Neo not being the hero, that’s a bit false since in a war, both sides, or every side for that matter, are going to have their heroes. Likely in World War I and II America was looked at as land filled with villains, while Americans looked at their enemy as the villain. There are heroes on both sides, all that matters is what perspective a person is looking the situation from. In terms of the Matrix, Neo was the hero to the free humans since he was The One, the guy that could combat the agents and do things that no one else could, meaning beat the living hell out of the agents and even disconnect them from the Matrix should it come to that. But from the point of view of the machines he wasn’t a hero, he was just an anomaly that hadn’t been figured out yet, a glitch in the system that kept occurring no matter what was done. He was basically an inconvenient truth that the machines had to live with, and had to deal with when it came to Neo and Morpheus continuing to spread the word to the other humans that they weren’t ‘free’ as they thought, but were basically giant batteries that had been given a life that wasn’t real. But when we talk about reality, that’s where the morality of the story really comes into play.
Cypher actually stated “Ignorance is bliss” and to be fair, he wasn’t wrong. When presented with a world where nothing grows, the surface is scarred and black, and overrun by machines, the world within the Matrix would likely be preferable to a lot of people. Add to that the fact that each person would need a good amount of time to recover after being unplugged, if they survived, and would have to survive on rations that were manufactured to serve the function of survival instead of enjoyment, and even more people might actually tell Morpheus to go to hell. Like it or not, the system in the movie is pretty horrible given that people are birthed and grown in pods only to be liquefied and fed intravenously to new humans when it’s time, but what the mind knows as real is the information that it’s fed through impulses, and the Matrix found a way to make a world that wasn’t perfect, but wasn’t meant to be either. Agent Smith even makes a point of that when he’s speaking to Morpheus, how the first Matrix was a disaster. Giving everyone what they want is not within human nature, as it’s human nature to destroy as much as it is to nurture, and to a machine this is likely to be highly illogical, meaning that the failure of such a tactic would be assured. It might sound like I’m arguing for a machine world in which none of us are aware that this reality we think is ours is in fact just an illusion and that we’re all firmly plugged in, but it’s not. Freedom is something that a machine can quantify and qualify, but it’s more than mere data or impulses. Unfortunately it’s also something we choose, and humans don’t always make the best choices, for right or wrong.
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