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Rachel Anne wrote:
: If you wish to show respect: "she", and not: "s/he" or "he", is the way to do it.

 

It's not just a question of respect; it's a question of what narrative one is participating in or privileging. Given that Lana uses "she" and SDG uses "he", my use of "s/he" was meant to prescind from that aspect of the discussion.

 

Language is an intersubjective thing, but it sometimes points to objective realities -- and where people's understandings of the objective reality differ, allowances sometimes need to be made for differences in language, too.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Given that Lana has not personally chosen to expand on her meaning here, I am at some risk in attempting to do so on her behalf. But generally, denying the gender binary is used to endorse two ideas:

 

(1) that many traits treated as two wholly separate points, one "male" and one "female" actually exist as a line, where people can be found anywhere along it.

 

(2) that people often embody a mix of "male" or "female" traits; that statistical or cultural distinctions are often mistaken for absolute or natural ones.

I think my basic contentions that a) gender matters, and that b.) a culture of overwhelmingly male filmmakers copying other male filmmakers will produce work that looks different from a culture of male and female filmmakers in more proportionate numbers, are robust and flexible enough to hold across this set of propositions.

 

Finally, I would note that trans people generally regard it as offensive to refer to them by pronouns that deny the reality of their transition, and Lana has made herself clear that she shares this general feeling. If you wish to show respect: "she", and not: "s/he" or "he", is the way to do it. If you wish to show disrespect, well, frankly, you have many options available to you. No doubt she will have heard all of them before. No doubt I will have too.

Expanding a bit on what Peter has written:

How respect is signified and recognized between persons involves a complex of intersubjective conventions -- conventions that sometimes break down over cultural divides and contrasting ways of interpreting and representing reality.

When and where this happens, sensitive individuals on one side of a cultural divide can often accommodate themselves to the expectations and conventions of the other side. An ecumenically minded Protestant addresses a Catholic priest as "Father"; a sensitive Christian avoids pronouncing the divine Name in the presence of a Jewish person; a respectful atheist removes his hat entering a church (for a wedding or funeral, say).

However, sometimes such accommodations conflict with deeply felt beliefs or precepts that one side or the other feels unable in conscience to compromise, however little one may wish to give offense. A devout Mennonite may feel unable in conscience to address a Catholic priest as "Father" or even "Reverend." A Sikh or Jew entering a church cannot uncover his head as Christian convention dictates.

Such individuals do not necessarily intend or hold any disrespect for those on the other side of these cultural divides. The Mennonite may esteem the Catholic priest as much as any other man, even the ministers of her own faith. Even so, it is possible, perhaps unavoidable at times, that offense may be taken at these non-accommodations. I think culturally aware individuals who wish to interact productively and respectfully across such divides must seek to find ways of rolling with these issues without taking undue offense, and without construing disrespect where none is intended.

I recognize that Lana Wachowski is invested in identifying as a female. My respect for Lana as a person is equal to that of anyone in the world (parse that however you like). I recognize that calling Lana "he" may give offense (if not to Lana, who is unlikely ever to become aware of it, then to others). I regret that, but in this respect my wish to show respect cannot take the form of the desired cultural accommodation.

My non-accommodation betokens no disrespect, but a deeply felt belief that is contrary to the presuppositions and values informing Lana's choices and self-identification. There's no getting around the fact that this is awkward, and I understand and accept that my views will be deemed offensive by some. I can't help that, but I think it is incumbent on us to accept that there is a limit to how far we can expect one another to stretch, and to recognize that deeply held disagreements do not necessarily equal disrespect.

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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I understand and accept that my views will be deemed offensive by some. I can't help that, but I think it is incumbent on us to accept that there is a limit to how far we can expect one another to stretch, and to recognize that deeply held disagreements do not necessarily equal disrespect.

 

BURN THE HERETIC!!!!


Yeah ... well ... I'm gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you there on that one.

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While you all have been hip deep in Lynch and Denis and which Rossellini for the Top 100, I've revisited The Matrix for the first time in 20 years or so. So, thanks Andrew Johnson (and whoever else nominated this film
I can report two things. I enjoyed the film, again. I am no closer to figuring out if I want to see it on our list. 

Part of that is that the things I enjoyed most were visceral -- not really tied to narrative or any meaning. Carrie Anne Moss in black vinyl (or whatever it is); Hugo Weaving's smugness; Joe Pantaliano's sadly understandable logic. 

But there are other points at which I feel like I'm reading the first draft of something great...a high school writing project from a student who has just finished AP English and History and has read Plato and Greek mythology sci-fi for the the first time and gotten a little tipsy and mashed it all up. Not that that bothers me...weren't we talking about references in the Top 100 threads in the asides about First Reformed and canonicity? The stuff about there is no spoon or Neo breaking the flower pot with the Oracle isn't nearly as clever or deep as the film seems to think it is. But I'm seeing bits and pieces of Inception and Minority Report and Snowpiercer, so there's some influence here. 
 

It's certainly a better choice than anything Star Wars or Harry Potter or MCU, even it if is less culturally impactful. If we wanted more sci-fi/fantasy besides 2001 and Blade Runner, I could almost even see myself voting for this over Gravity or AI: Artificial Intelligence, even if I would personally have an easier time articulating *why* for Terminator or The Martian. I guess it's maybe a question for me of this versus Interstellar. I am torn. 

 

 

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While I'm uncertain of how highly I will rate this film, but I wouldn't be bothered to see it on this list. You say it's "less culturally impactful," but I'd debate that. I think the film's had a huge impact; this may be hyperbole, but the original Star Wars films are the only other films I see as being similar in simultaneously: being cinematic/comic book pastiche, containing some entry-level philosophical content, pushing the art of VFX filmmaking forward, and leaving a mark in terms of aesthetic design.

It's a film that came out when I was in high school, so it's part of my cinematic journey. I rated it highly upon its initial release (saw it three times in theatres in 1999) and then my esteem for it fell as I discovered more of its influences and the cultural conversation around it ebbed and waned (between it being retroactively mocked when the sequels came out, but also, in my estimation at the time, over-praised in some quarters i.e. the Ain't It Cool crowd of "geeks"). 

But Aren and I revisited all the films and the animated shorts last year, and you know what? It holds up. It's certainly more interesting than almost anything that passes for a major blockbuster these days. It is, as you describe, viscerally thrilling. But I'd also be willing to go to bat for its philosophical impact, but as Aren pointed out in his review:

 

Quote

In 1999, the major innovation seemed to be the formal use of bullet time, which showcased Neo (Keanu Reeves) and his fellow freedom fighters, Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie Anne Moss), achieving impossible physical feats within the computer simulation from which they hoped to free humanity. Now, in light of subsequent seismic events in American democracy, the rise of identity politics, and the curdling of the American action film, The Matrix feels utterly prophetic. More than any of its contemporaries (save the similarly prophetic 1999 film Fight Club), The Matrix predicted the apocalyptic thinking that characterizes the present moment and championed an internalized philosophy of self-worth, self-actualization, and self-awakening that is the mantra of current culture warriors. The result is that The Matrix may be the definitive film of the past 20 years.

 

He goes on to outline it's gnostic vision (deeply indebted to Philip K. Dick), its pioneering conception of identity in a pop culture work, clarified by both directors coming out as trans in subsequent years, and a latent anti-capitalist message. Is it somewhat incoherent? Sure, but to millions of viewers it spoke to something in the air in the early 21st century: "Even if the true political message of The Matrix is impossible to parse, it does provide absolute clarity on its take on the issue of identity. [...] All of this messaging puts forth that identity is intrinsic, but not tied to body or circumstance; it argues that identity is something that you chose for yourself, just as Neo and Morpheus and Trinity chose their names. Most importantly, it shows that identity is liberating and empowering, as only once Neo truly knows he’s the One—when he proudly declares to Agent Smith that “My name is Neo”—does he unlock his full powers and begin to take control of the Matrix and defeat the agents. Neo’s speech to the agents in the final moments of the film is not actually addressed to the narrative adversaries, but to the audience, imploring them to wake up and embrace their true reality (the credits song by Rage Against the Machine entitled “Wake Up” only further emphasizes this point). Of course, what that reality is is only something they can determine."

Anyway, you can catch up on the rest of our Matrix pieces here. Even if you disagree on their merits, I think we make a strong case that they are significant and interesting films.


"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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Reviews and essays at Three Brothers Film.

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Was going to comment here and link back to my review from 2019 about how to perceive the significance of the film, but I see that Anders has already done so. So... carry on, gentlemen.


"Someone like Jean-Luc Godard is for me intellectual counterfeit money when compared to a good kung fu film." - Werner Herzog

3brothersfilm.com

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In 1999, the major innovation seemed to be the formal use of bullet time, which showcased Neo (Keanu Reeves) and his fellow freedom fighters, Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie Anne Moss), achieving impossible physical feats within the computer simulation from which they hoped to free humanity. Now, in light of subsequent seismic events in American democracy, the rise of identity politics, and the curdling of the American action film, The Matrix feels utterly prophetic. More than any of its contemporaries (save the similarly prophetic 1999 film Fight Club), The Matrix predicted the apocalyptic thinking that characterizes the present moment and championed an internalized philosophy of self-worth, self-actualization, and self-awakening that is the mantra of current culture warriors. The result is that The Matrix may be the definitive film of the past 20 years.

I think this is a tad overstated, particularly about the self-awakening part, since "waking up" is such an ubiquitous theme throughout various parts of history. But I'll buy the parts about identify as being portents of the evolving understanding of identify and identity culture that have haunted the postmodern genrations only to see the millenial ones do what subsequent generations always do--take a thought (in this case that identity is self determined) and push it towards its logical conclusion.

It occurred to me in thinking about this that what the Matrix has that seems fresh and interesting and counter-cultural today is...a sense of hope. Even though the world is as it has been for a long time, there is a belief that it can be better. This is missing from so many postmodern dystopias, and it's kinda, sorta important if we are going to go on living.

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