by Ajani Mgo
The simulacra (Baudrillard 1981) is said to be represented in the "Matrix" movies. Really?
|In the Matrix movie, Neo holds a copy of Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation in his hands. Morpheus, too, spoke of the Desert of the Real. Throughout the movie, interpretors see Baudrillard’s ideas of the simulacra recurring. Yet to me, it is such a gross misinterpretation.|
In fact, according to the Le Nouvel Observateur, Baudrillard himself had denied that the Matrix had nothing to do with his theories at all. (Source: http://blog.empyree.org/post/2205)
The simulacra theory is one of the postmodernist age’s best philosophical thoughts. It involves an endless copy, where the copier and the copied take after each another so much that eventually all truth is gone, all meaning is lost.
An example would be the question “Does life imitate Hollywood, or Hollywood imitate life?” One might argue that violent acts and behaviours were inspired by Hollywood movies, but in turn you could also say that Hollywood simply took am existent problem of society and made it into a movie. Both cases are true, both sides actually just keep on chasing after one another endlessly, causing the original Truth, the Origin of all that which the first copy was created out of, to be lost.
According to Baudrillard, there were four steps to making a simulacra:
(1) Basic reflection of reality (Copying)
(2) Perversion of reality (Recopying again, but taking after the name of the former)
(3) Pretense of reality (The copied is the true Origin)
(4) Simulacrum, which “bears no relation to any reality whatever.” (Nothing is Real anymore - the Hyperreal)
Even pornography itself is a simulacra. It presents to the viewer a distorted view of sexual intercourse, so that the watcher gets aroused by it. Eventually he confuses sex and pornography, and he can no longer distinguish that which is real and that which is not.
Comparing it to the Matrix, all these examples happen according to the four steps suggested by Baudrillard. They also take place within the same world, so as to speak.
Regarding the Matrix, Baudrillard had this to say.
“The real nuisance in this movie [The Matrix] is that the brand-new problem of the simulation is mistaken with the very classic problem of the illusion, already mentioned by Plato. Here lies the mistake.”
The Matrix movie divides clearly two worlds - the physical Zion, where Truth seems to remain, and the digital Matrix, which is mistaken as a simulacra. Very clearly, the process of simulation requires two mediums in constant reflection. However, as we see, Zion is not to be influenced by the Matrix at all. It is an adobe of Truth against the Matrix illusion, not Matrix simulacra.
There is at best just one-sided copying from Zion to the Matrix, as it attempted initially to program all of Man’s behavioural patterns and conventions - working for a living, respect to the law etc. In fact, the Matrix had been designed, originally as a utopia, according to the in-movie Architect, to show that there was no prior copy of it.
The interpretations of the Matrix have confused what is Illusion, and what is Simulation. There is nothing to be copied, the Truth still exists, and everything else is only an image.