The Matrix became one of the most notable films released in 1999 which provided rich visual effects and a thrilling storyline. Most of the scenes from this film play within the context of the future, a visual offering of year 2199 wrapped in virtual reality where machines govern and control human actions. Though the film deals with the relationship between machines and humans, every character in the plot represents an underlying gender-related interaction.
Since the film basically revolves on the cyber world in the form of a simulation created by machines, gender specific plots are not explicitly conveyed throughout the whole duration of The Matrix. The following discussion will focus on some of the gender dynamics present within the film. The paper will analyze some parts of the film where norms of gender are either contradicted or affirmed. As previously mentioned, the world in which the main characters believed to be real, is manipulated by intelligent machines.
These machines utilized human body heat to convert into energy while they control human behaviors within the matrix. In the general sense machines are considered as a non-living thing created by man and from this perspective, machines do not have a specific gender. In this film they can be considered as androgynous, the Agents who can take any virtual body for their usage is an example on how the machines in this film are androgynous.
Contrary to the real world, these androgynous machines have the power over humans with no concept of male and female. Somehow, it projects a balanced and equal form of gender treatment. First of all, there is no direct interaction between genders since their physical bodies are trapped inside a tank connected to the simulation. Second, all humans are used and contained for a single purpose that no other humans can dominate. Seeing the domination of machines as a projection of gender balance, the concept of the “ONE” enters the scene.
It has been revealed from the start that Neo – the male protagonist of the film – is the savior of the human kind. This can be regarded as an obvious manifestation of upholding patriarchy, since the real world is where men are associated with power. From the world matrix where men and women are controlled, a man is predicted by the Oracle to save the humans from the machine’s imprisonment. Naturally, to the film’s audience, Neo’s success is attributed to the male strength and the power of patriarchy.
The female character of Trinity shows her strength which is equal to her male counterparts. However, this strength seems to compliment her appearance which resembles Neo, who has the same shape of face, same sunglasses, and same battle moves. From earlier scenes of the film, Neo mistaken her for a man who cracked a difficult code called IRS d-base (The Matrix 1999), a scene where intelligence are stereotyped among males is reinforced. This film has been said to draw out some of its concept from theological concepts.
Neo being the ONE symbolized as the God who is the savior of humankind while Trinity – derived from God’s three dimensional forms – represents Neo not just in physical traits. The kiss she gave to Neo when he died miraculously revived him which can be compared to the Holy Spirit (Diaz-Diocaretz & Herbrechter 200). The issue of gender in The Matrix tackles the usual gender norms of exhibiting male power and dominance. The balance of gender interaction within the simulated environment became the antagonist throughout the film where the characters try to escape.
Agent Smith said that the real world is shaped by misery and suffering and the purpose for the creation of the Matrix is to build a perfect world for humans where everyone is treated equally. Ironically, the concept of equality in the film is one thing that needs to be eradicated.
Diaz-Diocaretz, Myriam. , and Herbrechter, Stefan. The Matrix in Theory. New York: Rodopi, 2006. The Matrix. Dir. Wachowski Brothers. Perf. Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne. Warner Bros. , 1999.