Pod People and the Matrix

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Published : March 04th, 2018
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The two greatest science fiction movies of the 20th century are Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and The Matrix (1999). Both are seminal cinematic efforts that portray big ideological truths about the dangers of modernity and tyranny, and they do so with relentless hammer blows of frightful eeriness.

The Pod People

Invasion of the Body Snatchers  involves an extraterrestrial invasion in which mysterious plant spores have settled onto earth and then hatch into sinister leafy pods that migrate to the back porches, basements and yards of the citizens of the fictional town of Santa Mira, California. The pods then proceed to assume the identity of numerous residents of the town, taking over their consciousness and basic personas. Insidiously these residents are transformed into robotic humans who then spread more pods to their neighbors’ houses to try and take over the town itself.

Each resident appears the same as he or she was before being transformed by one of the pods, but their minds become uncritical and zombie-like. Each resident becomes a “creature” rather than a “person,” identical in surface characteristics to their previous human identity, but creepy and malevolent in their perceptions and actions. They adopt the role of deceptive proselytizers for their unnamed cause lurking in the background – that of the recruitment of their neighbors and ultimately the transformation of the entire town into pod people.

The two stars of the movie are Kevin McCarthy as the local doctor, Miles Bennell, and the ravishing Dana Wynter as his girl friend, Becky Driscoll. They are rightly horrified by the eerie transformations of their town, and the suspenseful story unfolds around their efforts to figure out what is actually taking place and why it is taking place – and, of course, avoid being transformed themselves.

The taut script by Daniel Manwaring is brilliantly terrifying. Director, Don Siegel, fashions a classic sci-fi tale that pushes everyone to the edge of their seats throughout. The film is shot in black and white, which gives it a noirish and more disquieting look appropriate for spooky genres. Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter perform their roles with riveting appeal as they lure the audience into the story’s mystery. They gradually come to understand the nature of the pods and leave the town to save themselves from being transformed.

Those citizens already transformed pursue them so as to keep them from warning other towns. During the chase Wynter is transformed into a pod person, but McCarthy escapes. Near the end we see McCarthy coming upon one of the main highways leading in and out of Santa Mira where he sees a series of trucks loaded with nefarious pods going out of the town to the rest of America. So even though he has managed to escape, America is thrust into dire peril from ever-growing numbers of pods coming to their towns. Can Dr. Bennell warn the country in time? Will they listen to him?

The Matrix

Out of today’s nihilistic Hollywood and two renegade movie creators, Lana and Lilly Wachowski, comes the other sci-fi classic of our age. The Matrix descends upon one’s mind like a super-chic dynamo of cyber punk creativity. It bends backward and forward simultaneously. Its characters climb walls like Spiderman, dodge bullets like Superman, leap from tall buildings and survive. They violate the laws of physics and dazzle the viewer with Hong Kong martial arts spectacle fights.

Stylistically the movie is not my cup of tea, but is nevertheless brilliant and brazenly informative in its attempt to portray the deceptiveness of modern social-political reality. Its theme is that the reality of life today is not what we perceive it to be. It is unequivocally false, for we have been bamboozled by powerful forces amongst us into believing that what we are living is TRUE and what we are experiencing is FREEDOM when in actuality our lives are nothing of the kind.

Most reviewers either miss this real essence of the film or purposely ignore it to spew forth the usual pretentious tripe of conformists transcribing what they hope will be perceived by their audience as a sophisticated avant garde grasp of the art world. The film is about slavery of the human soul and body by transcendent rulers of the modern world. It alludes to a whole host of history’s great mythic and spiritual philosophical themes, but basically is a provocative and fearless film about modernity and slavery.

The Matrix’s story line is as follows: by the start of the 23rd century in the aftermath of a nuclear world war between “sentient machines” (AI) and mankind, humans are defeated and subsequently enslaved in a virtual reality (the Matrix) so that the machines can feed off of them. Humans are harvested for their bio-electricity, which allows the machines to live transcendently. The Matrix is thought to be reality by the human slaves, but they live in illusion. One such slave, however, named “Neo” and played by Keanu Reeves, is perceptive enough to know something is wrong with what is being portrayed to him as reality. But he can’t quite connect the dots to truly understand.

From this setting enters Morpheus, played by Lawrence Fishburne, along with Trinity played by Carrie-Anne Moss. They are unharvested humans who live outside the Matrix and lead a rebel band of survivors from the great war against the Machines to try and take back the world from the monstrosity of harvesting – to restore the world of freedom and sanity, which prevailed centuries before them.

They operate out of a hideaway called Zion, and are intent on recruiting Neo as the Saviour who will lead them to a restoration of real life. They follow an Oracle who has told them that Neo is “The One,” i.e., the Saviour who will lead them to victory. Thus they go into the Matrix to recruit Neo and explain to him what he suspects, but hasn’t been able to totally figure out yet. They manage to rescue him from the Matrix while attempting to convince him that his true destiny is to become the leader of the real humanity that survived the world war so as to rekindle sanity and freedom.

The story is comprised of non-stop fighting that takes place between Morpheus, Trinity, and Neo and the Machines’ Agents (i.e., Machines that assume human form) as our heroes attempt to escape from the Matrix to the real world and a protective Zion. It is a tour de force of endless skirmishes that literally overwhelm the viewer with scintillating optics and surreal scenery. In fact the Wachowskis thrust us into a story of razzle-dazzle fisticuffs, self-maneuvering bullets, stupendous somersaults, and inconceivable wall-climbing that threatens finally to stultify the viewer.

And numerous viewers, I’m sure, do become stultified with such razzle-dazzle carnage. But if the moviegoer will endure the Wachowskis’ cinematic idiosyncrasies and love of maverick filmmaking, he will be treated to a powerful allegory defining the horrendous falsity of our modern political system and culture.

The Matrix is modern sci-fi at a highly seminal level. It is one of those rebel works of art that rises above the insipid mediocrity that a collectivist Hollywood pours out to the movie houses of our country. Yes, The Matrix is “over the top” imagery and sometimes irritatingly incoherent. But this writer believes it sends a monumental message to the modern world.

What it tells us is that the reality we perceive today is not genuine – in fact it is grotesquely false. We are being deceived by forces of tyranny in all the arenas of existence. This false reality has been orchestrated by our professors in the universities and our politicians in the Washington swamp. Aided by a deceitful punditry in the media, these controllers play the role of the Machines in The Matrix. They are hell-bent to harvest vacuous men and women who will do the bidding of the Orwellian thuggery that runs Washington and its institutions of regimentation.

The Wachowskis are products of today’s corrupt Hollywood and Big Brother’s schools, so it is almost certain that they don’t truly grasp the essence of the tyranny creeping over us. But like Neo in the film, even though they might not be able to connect the actual dots of what is politically happening today, they know something very undesirable is taking place in America. And they portray their intuitive visions in a spectacle of artistic rebellion that slams up against an ugly statist establishment like Tennyson’s Light Brigade charged into Crimea’s Valley of Death 160 years ago.  

Orwell, Huxley and Modernity

From these two films we conclude what our anguished brains have been shouting to us for decades – far too many Americans have become “pod people” because they are caught up in the bells and whistles of their smart phones, the silly antics of the Kardashians, the horrid dependence of state welfare, the gruesome rigidity of modern liberalism, and the excruciating blandness of Brave New World.

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, written in 1932, foretold ominously where modern society was headed in its tale of futuristic tyranny. In the 1955 edition, Huxley wrote in the Foreword:

“A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors and schoolteachers.” [emphasis added]

The final scene of Invasion of the Body Snatchers has now come true. The trucks that left Santa Mira loaded with pods have permeated our country and have created a citizenry of cognitive zombies that “love their servitude.” They are slaves to political correctness in the cultural realm, special privileges in the political realm, and Keynesian fake money in the economic realm.

We send 30,000 lobbyists to Washington every year like vermin to the grist mill to petition for the conveyance of special privileges to the myriad factions of zombies that the lobbyists represent. The fundamental cornerstone of our country – “equality of rights under the law” – is scorned by our professors, our pundits, and our politicians.

Can we as Americans stop this descent into the Orwellian rabbit hole? Perhaps. But it will require that we gain a perspective that one does not see today in a corrupted Washington and a dismal school system. It will require that we discover a Morpheus, Trinity and Neo among us to construct a true revolution to dramatically alter the ruling paradigm of political thought and take back America from the professorial Machines that now teach hideous ideologies of servitude to our youth.  

If collectivism has come to our world via intellectual fallacies laid down over the decades since 1913, then historical wisdom says that freedom can be brought back to our world via intellectual truth put forth in the upcoming decades. What has been destroyed can be rebuilt. What has been forgotten can be rediscovered. The values of rationality and integrity can be reinstilled. Life is not set in stone! Men and women are not automatons by nature. If they have become “pod people” via a corrupt and sinister academy, then we must rebuild our academies. America was meant not just for the 19th century, but for all of time. She is the eternal ideal. And we can recapture her resplendency if we have the will to do so.

The question is do we still have that will? Are CNN, the New York Times and corporate America the exemplars of legitimacy and honor handed down by our Founders? Or are they subversive thought criminals thrust upon us by deranged philosophy and the historical helter-skelter of Karl Marx? Are we true Americans today, or are we pseudo patriots desirous only of being taken care of throughout a zombie life of slavish complicity to the Godzilla of Washington? If there is a Morpheus, Trinity and Neo out there, come quickly if you dare. Show yourself; time is short. Lunacy prevails. Tyranny swells.


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Nelson Hultberg is a freelance writer in Dallas, Texas and serves as the Director of Americans for a Free Republic, www.afr.org, an educational organization founded to promote sound money and fair taxation. Mr. Hultberg's articles have appeared in publications such as The Dallas Morning News, The American Conservative, The Freeman, Liberty, and on numerous Internet sites such as The Daily Bell, Financial Sense Online, and Safe Haven. He is the author of a soon to be released book, The Golden Mean: Libertarian Politics, Conservative Values.
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