The Matrix and Geek Culture

I recently published a comment on Wil Wheaton’s blog after he – as so many others – bashed The Matrix Reloaded & Revolutions. I’m reposting the comment here because it’s something I feel very strongly about: the critical persecution of two the most brilliant films made in the last decade, and the fashion of anti-intellectual hating/bashing that has taken over the internet.

I am extremely disappointed by this shallow but fashionable bashing of the Matrix sequels.

Just once the creators behind a sequel actually a deliver a film that is more complex than the original, and what does everyone do? What do the self-proclaimed geeks, supposedly so much more intelligent than your average dude, do? They crap all over it because it doesn’t fulfill their expectations of being a rehash of the original, because it questions the simpler ideas the original presented, and because instead of being a fun popcorn flick it’s a serious, adult piece of science fiction and philosophy.

And then it becomes fashionable to hate this, and everyone starts going on about how much The Matrix Reloaded & Revolutions sucked, like tiny versions of George Bush laughing about numbers, glorying in their own stupidity. Yes, thinking is hard, we know. It’s so much easier to stand in line with the sheep and tell us over and over again that a film that deals in actual and difficult philosophical questions is so much worse than one than just throws the occasional quote at us.

I keep hoping to see a little more insight from you, Wil. I’ve been following this blog from the very beginning, and always supported your work, and enjoyed what you wrote… so this kind of fashionable and anti-intellectual hating is a big disappointment, even though I realize you’ve expressed similar opinions before. Obviously you’re not required to the conform the wishes of your readers – and why should you – but from someone I’ve always considered intelligent, a more complex opinion would be appreciated.

I can understand that these two films are considerably more challenging than the first one, and that they may take more than one viewing to fully appreciate. I was very disappointed at first by The Matrix Revolutions, for example – but that’s because my expectations had been off, and I hadn’t understood the point of the film (Smith as a metaphor for death, etc.). When I figured it out and adjusted my expectations, I was utterly blown away (and deeply moved) by the film.

I’m disturbed by current geek culture. I used to think like many of them still do – we’re so much more intelligent, we’re the outsiders, etc. – but it’s really a giant ball of bullshit. An obsession with computer technology doesn’t mean you’re more intelligent any more than living in a trailer means you’re stupid. Half these “outsider geniuses” haven’t read a book in their lives, and wouldn’t be able to appreciate a complex film if it hit them on the nose. Geek culture isn’t about intelligence, it’s about clannishness. In fact, it’s turning more and more anti-intellectual, with everyone running after this or that fashion (“M. Night Shyamalan sucks! Ben Affleck sucks! Lost sucks! The Matrix sucks! Long live the 80s!”) like they are always accusing people outside the geek community of doing.

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