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Baudrillard And The Matrix Essay

1287 words - 5 pages

In 1999 Larry and Andy Wachowski wrote and directed an American science fiction action film called The Matrix. The movie depicted a future where many humans might perceive is real, is actually a simulated reality. The Wachowski brothers made many explicit references in their film based on the work of French sociologist Jean Baudrillard. In Jean Baudrillard’s essay entitled “Simulacra and Simulations” he mentions in his essay how society has replaced all reality and meaning with representation of symbols and signs.
Baudrillard starts off with an example of Borges tale, “cartographers of the Empire draw up a map so detailed that it ends up exactly covering the territory (but where, with the decline of the Empire this map becomes frayed and finally ruined)” (365). He is explaining how there is an impeccable map rotting whereas the territory on the map still remains. He goes on to explain “it is the map that engenders the territory and if we were to revive the fable today, it would be the territory whose shreds are slowly rotting across the map” (366). This story is to point out that our modern society is playing the role of the map, which is self-destructing and the territory is representing the simulation. He clarifies that simulation is “the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal” and “hyperreal: the simulated generation of difference without any distinction between the real and the imaginary” (Lecture slides 3/6/12).
One very obvious scene in particular that clearly shows the existence of Baudrillards’s argument being incorporated into the film is at the beginning of the movie where Neo opens a copy of Baudrillard's “Simulacra and Simulation.” The place where Neo keeps his black market software hidden is the hollow book. Morpheus demonstrates Baudrillard’s argument in the scene where Neo is shown the “real world” for the first time. He tells Neo “Welcome to the desert of the real,” “desert of the real” is a quote from Baudrillard’s essay that explains after the simulation has been taken away, we are left with our real reality, the reality that is decaying, leaving us with not much left.
“The reality itself erodes to the point that it becomes a desert” (Sparknotes). In this scene they are in a simulated reality with nothing but a blank, white room, with a sofa, and a television set. Morpheus has New York, as they perceive it, in the year of 1999 displayed on the television. It is shown as a busy, bright, a vibrant city. Then he switches the channel to how the world really is today, the year closer to 2199. How the world really is in the year 2199 is nothing but a depressing, broken down, “apocalyptic wasteland” (The Film Journal). It would seem that the Wachowski brother’s aim to illustrate Baudrillard’s concept in The Matrix was well put together. They made it very clear that their portayal of The Matrix is a “simulation” that derived from a “real reality” that is no longer rational. In otherwords, now that...

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