Recalling Our Matrix

Recalling Our Matrix June 26, 2014

Paul Regnier made a bingo game to help students spot parallels between Jesus and Neo in The Matrix. I’ve included the bingo card at the end of the post below.

Lots of studies have been done which indicate both the recycling of story motifs across literature and film, and also the tendency of historical figures to be conformed to type over time. Although a close analysis of literature needs to go deeper than the mere spotting of parallels, students absolutely must be able to see such parallels as well, as well as the differences that are highlighted as a result of spotting them.

What struck me most about his post was something that resonated with my own experience: The Matrix is something of a modern classic, but it is ancient history to most of today’s students. That means that they are about as likely to have seen the movie as they are to have read something by Aristotle.

Have you found this in your experience? Do you force yourself to stop referring to movies like The Matrix to illustrate points, because the reference is no longer clear and current? Do you substitute new ones?

I wonder what the name of this blog sounds like to people who’ve never seen The Matrix and thus don’t get the double entendre

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  • Ooh this reminds me, The Matrix can be interpreted as a transgender narrative, or a variety of gender abolitionist narrative.

    Also, eh, the jesus character had great powers before the resurrection too.

  • Thanks for the link James.

    My religion and film course has so far been a great reminder of how quickly pop culture moves on – I’ve shown bits and bobs of Four Weddings and Trainspotting, and my students’ overwhelming reaction has been “why are you showing us these old films?!”

    Seminal events pass into history rather quickly too – when I started teaching a few years ago, 9/11 was something that came up in class pretty often, and I used to start my course on Islam with a lesson of getting the whole “aren’t all Muslims terrorists?” thing out of the way. I don’t bother with that anymore, because the students I would teach that to weren’t even born when 9/11 happened.

    But you’ll be pleased to know that the kids *love* the ten seconds they get to see of Tom Baker era Doctor Who!

  • Michael Wilson

    James, I’m sure The Matrix will get a reboot soon. Though I dont know if it will have the same impact. The Matrix was a good 90’s film in that it captured the angst of a generation living in a golden age of peace and plenty in the shadows of their WW II grandparents and 60’s revolutionary parents. It was really the birth of the conspiricy movement as it created a scenerio where the boredom of the peaceful world was a front for an all powerful secret force of control that the knowladgeble few could fight on their computers. I think we are moving into a more uncertain age and hopefully people will be galvanized into confronting real problems and not fantasy problems.

  • arcseconds

    Neo didn’t gather a group of followers, though, did he?

    I’m pretty sure people watch old movies more than they read Aristotle.

    • He did if you squint a bit. Morpheus’s followers are kind of his followers by proxy. Plus Morpheus, and later Tank and Trinity come to believe he is the One.

    • Right Neo merely co-opted a pre-existing group of believers, where as Jesus …

      … oh, wait …

      • arcseconds

        Whereas Jesus is explicitly mentioned as having personally converted several followers from secular activities? I’m not sure where you’re going with this. Are you suggesting that he just bought John the Baptist’s practice?

        • Simpler than that; Jesus had Judaism, with scriptures, traditions, and Roman occupation ready-made.