Brave New World and The Matrix: Dystopia or Utopia
Multitudes congregate in movie theaters year after year in an endeavor to be entertained. It can be highlighted that even the most shallow movies have the potential to allow the audience to venture into places that invokea sense of imagination. Therefore, a means by which they can escape the realities of life. Dystopian portrayals are not a new occurrence and have existed historically as an outline utilized to test the direction and dimensions of human existence.In examining the movie Brave New World and The Matrix as dystopian representations or depictions, a definition of dystopia is deemed necessary. Utopia is a perfect world or a good place often associated with future imaginations of existence(Geras, 2000). Dystopia, on the other hand, is an antonym that describes the darkest forms of governance, power struggles and thus, a utopia gone wrong.
It can be denoted to the worst possible kind of authority or domination and the struggle to seek more than perfection that results in failure. The Matrix paints a picture where there exists two worlds, utopia and dystopia. One displays a dimension that showcases possibilities and civil liberties whilst the second, a constrained world with no individual freedoms. Brave New World also conveys similar depictions, a conflict of utopia and dystopia. The paper focusses on how what may have been a utopia for an individual or community can transcend to a point where it transforms to a dystopia. It also aims at highlighting dystopian/ Utopian representations in the Brave New World and The Matrix productions . The protagonists in the films realize that what was once their reality is, in fact, a smokescreen to cover up the nature of human lives. Ignorance aches the society and exudes happiness- a fake paradise.
Neo (Keanu Reeves) or Thomas A. Anderson is an individual torn between two worlds. By day, he is a typical computer programmer and at night, a hacker. He is contacted by the renowned hacker Morpheus and for this reason, he finds himself on the wrong side of the law(Wachowski & Wachowski, 1999). Morpheus is branded a terrorist and becomes responsible for waking up Neo, who he believes is the prophesied ‘one,’ and meant to save them. Neo wakes up to the disheartening real world where the human race has been held captive and are as a source of power for the machines. The machines have created a simulation- the matrix- that has enslaved the minds of the human beings within a virtual reality. Neo is forced to return to the matrix to confront its agents. The agents are super-powerful computer-generated creations aimed at eliminating Neo and the entire rebellion. Source: (Wachowski & Wachowski, 1999)
Brave New World
Brave New World is an excellent movie in which there is a depiction of a futuristic world state where individuals are content and happy. The citizens are well provided for and have been raised or matured to love their community in every respect. The society is united under Ford, and citizens are bred by workers in the hatcheries charged with creation and sustenance of the idyllic society. The happinness of the citizens is managed through a legal drug-soma. The hatcheries ensure the requirements of the five castes in the community are met, the intelligent Alphas to the dehumanized or machine-like Epsilons. Bernard Marx is a particular individual matured into the Alpha caste.
However, he does not completely fit in due to his physical attributes that are not compatible with those of other Alphas.Marx and Lenina go to visit the reservation where they meet with John in the land of the savages. They bring him back to ‘civilization’ and realize that he is the son of the director of the cloning authority that results in a scandal. John is dismayed by the world state and hates the anti-emotional civilization. He falls in love with Lenina but is motivated to hold on to his principles and virginity. He asks to be sent to live in isolation and gets a job as a lighthouse guard. The dissatisfaction of John is evident when he flogs himself to feel some sense of emotion- pain. John is allowed to join the futuristic society. However, growing up on the reservation makes him fail to adapt to the repressive ways in the world state. Source(Libman & Larry Williams, 1998)
Brave New World and The matrix: Utopia or Dystopia?
Authors utilize dystopia to describe the consequence of a current path assumed by society as it continues into the future. It can be expressed as a imaginary futuristic world where oppressive societal control and illusion of a utopia ( perfect society) are maintained through corporate, bureaucratic, technological, moral, or totalitarian control. The dystopian society is characterized by propaganda, restrictions to information and freedoms, figurehead or concept worshiped by the community, dehuminization and citizens conforming to a set uniform expectations. It can be denoted that there exist different types of dystopian control. The Matrix represents technological power as the society is controlled by computers and machines. Brave New World assumes both technological and bureaucratic dystopian control. The caste system is dependent on the production of babies in containers where alphas can be promoted, and ensure the lower castes remain unintelligent. The values are effected through bureaucracy enforced by the threat of deportation to the savage community.
Both films are about authorities that have perpetually stripped away the personal liberties and freedoms of individuals. They are centered on people becoming aware of the blindfolds and control established to perpetuate dominance and oppression. The created societies are illusions of a perfect utopian world. The world state created in Brave New World novel raises its citizens to act and live in a particular manner(Dacre, 2015). Happiness is achieved through the mindlessness of its nationals who perceive no emotions or suffering. The Matrix connotesthe computer-generated illusions implanted in the minds of the humans who are made to believe they live in the 1999 period- a virtual reality. The societies are created from a backdrop of wars, revolution, and uprisings. The World State in Brave New World objectified to eradicate wars and incite ‘happiness’ among its population. The Matrix is a consequence of a revolution or uprising by humans that led to anarchy and hence, the scorched sky.
It is hard to break away from this totalitarian regimes as depicted by the two films (if not impossible). It is shown by the fight the protagonists endured to effect change or point out ignorance in their societies. Morpheus, in the Matrix, was the leader of a rebel group who had to wait for the one –Neo- to lead the fight against the dominanceinstigated by the machines. The film is characterized by fighting and dodging of bullets by the protagonist (Neo) who throughout the movie is displayed as an emotionless individual. Brave New World is essentially a community where even birth is regarded as a primitiveaction, and thus, children are conceived through use of technology. The community was created as means to achieve social stability and eradicate wars that continue to plague the world even today. Therefore, persons in the world created by Huxley are characterized by massivebrainwashing in an objective to fashion happiness- a paradise on earth (utopia). Similarly, it can be captioned that The Matrix existed as a deterrence to anarchy as perpetrated by humans when they are left to do what they want.The movies envision a virtual reality and thus, a delineation to the realities that exist in the ‘real’ world.
The approaches of dystopia can be acclaimed as the points of difference between the two movies. In the Matrix, the machines have taken over, and there exists a violently oppressive, futuristic and computer-dominated society. The reality was a post-apocalyptic world that featured a dark place, grim and where food is described as tasting like gooey eggs. The humans were used as a source of energy by the machines and a form of forceful oppression. It can be related to the world realities such as the historical violent dominance of the Soviet Union on its people. Authority is exercised through propaganda, explicit power and constant need of crisis situations or events.The Brave New World presents a passively oppressive government, for example, the United States that assumes control through veiled power, propaganda and a constant sense of satisfaction and peace (Dacre, 2015). As aforementioned, individuals are happy in ignorance especially showcased in the film Brave New World . They are all happy and content in ignorance. The ‘real’ world is the state governed by individuals such as the director of hatcheries. The ‘Matrix’ also remains to be the ‘reality’ for persons in The Matrix as portrayed by the producers of the film. However, it can be denoted that both represent a ploy by the authorities to ensure powerlessness in the community as a characteristic dystopian similarity between the two films.
The movies also show a dystopian theme- technology- where it is utilized to reinforce hierarchies by broadening the inequalities of power and wealth. In itself, the word matrix can be defined as an interconnection of an array of diodes and other circuit elements that have a couple of inputs and outputs that can be likened to a lattice or a grid. It is a created dream world imposed onto the human mind to convince them they are living the world similar to the one in 1999. The movie is a depiction of the anxiety that exists within the human fraternity as caused by the rapid growth of technology. The philosophies extended by the theme are broad. It can be used to invoke the questions of existence(whether entities live in a virtual or real world). It insinuates the logic that the human race could be living inside our minds and controlled by programs that elicit the belief of reality. Brave New World is grounded in technology. The hatcheries represent cloning of individuals that continues to be a major issue eliciting debates world over. The individuals that give birth are considered primitive. In the world state, control begins at birth with false cultures fed to the young minds. There is a rigid caste system developed with Alphas being dominant(Izzo & Kirkpatrick, 2008). Reproductive technology as an oppressive or dangerous force in the hands of a totalitarian regime is featured in these mentioned dystopian films (Wilson, 2014).The conceptualizations elicit a sense of doubt to the audience towards what is common or standard and anything that is taken for granted.
The technology featured in Brave New World was futuristic and way beyond the era. It involved the conception of babies through containers. The technology isknown today as cloning. It implied a society where due to the technology, humans would be made identical as seen in the lower castes. The technology thus utilized to propagate power and wealth inequalities (Dacre, 2015).The Matrix is caused by the anxiety foreseen by the trend or growth in artificial intelligence technology advancement. The fears highlighted by the film choose to denote if technological advancements remain on the path, machines would take over the world. The implication suggests that two intelligent forms cannot co-exist in the same place. The simulation created by the computer to mature an illusion for the human race is what is the matrix. The utopia world being within the western city of the late twentieth century. The ‘real’ world is characterized by remaining sewer systems of the destroyed cities. Both movies can be implied to underlie techno-dystopias- theworld with no pain.
The brainwashing of masses is atypical in both films whereby they are left to seek pleasures in consumption and other inclinations and hence, remaining indifferent to what goes on in the world around them.In Brave New World, the concept of happiness remains elusive, a paradox to say the least. Lenina is blinded by false happiness; certain values have been fed into her conscious such that she does not comprehend the misgivings that Helmoholtz , John and Bernard Marx had. Political choice has been substituted by consumer choice and immorality. It reveals the materialism that incites many societies of the world today that render them apathetic to what goes on around them. In the contemporary society, an individual with an iPhone or BMW is considered happy. Utopia assumes perfectness. However, it is questionable since the free will of a person is stripped and as such, they live in oblivion.
The perfect world depicted in the movies is characterized by limited emotions, no history, and censorship. The Utopia in Brave New World resonates Plato’s republic. Plato’s utopia was characterized by a rigid social structure, rule by philosopher kings, communal property that included wives and children, and harmony and justice maintained through force or guardians(Fieser & Dowden, 2016). The World State shared the characteristics. On the other hand, nerds would consider purposeful evolution and growth in science their Utopia. However, the Matrix is not a domination of humans over nature but machines over the humans. Therefore, the existence of agents as guardians to protect the simulation presents a form of utopia almost similar to that of the world state.The lack of wars, crime, and pain in this regard does not inherently mean real happiness. In Brave New World, class conflict came to light in this respect. Bernard Marx was not the typical alpha although born into the caste. He was an intellectual although lacked the physical attribute typical of the categorization.
Therefore, he fails to conform to the culture and the values that weigh true happiness in the world state. Similar to Bernard, are John and Watson, who are not happy because their intelligence and the desire for a more real experience makes the present conditions and terms of living undesirable. John is turned off by the uncaring nature of individuals in the ‘civilized’ world where he had relocated with his mother, Linda. He needed to experience emotion and pain and thus set out to flog himself. It became a spectacle for the citizens of the world state who followed the example. It shows individuals were mindless and assumed gratification only to underlie what they were raised to believe.In order to manage pain and emotions, individuals in Brave New World used the soma- a drug linked to the death of Linda as showcased in the production. The Matrix also has the blue pill that can be said to serve almost the same purpose. Agent Smith in the matrix recounted that individuals needed a balance of misery and sorrow with happiness to accept the realities of life(Wachowski & Wachowski, 2016).
Therefore, it denotes the fact that a real utopia is not existent where there exist oppression and lack of free will. Mustapha Mond highlighted the system was for the sake of assuming control proving happiness elusive in the depictions by the two movies. The lack of history leaves the individuals with no avenue or template to compare happiness or achieve satisfaction.The Matrix and Brave New World can be concluded to be dystopian representations as aforementioned in the introductory part of the paper. The Utopian representations of the created worlds changed into dystopias for the main characters. Keanu Reeves or Neo wakes up from a long stupor and as the chosen‘one’ heads the rebellious fight endeavored to alter the system.On the other hand, John refuses completely to conform to the expectations of the world state. He takes his own life due to the conflicting ideologies of where he comes from- land of the savages- where people experienced suffering and misery. The balance of misery and suffering with happiness is his Utopia, deeming Utopia an obscure concept as it is assumed to be perfect.
The Matrix and the world state in Brave New World can be said to represent Utopia for the communities. The real world exists as a converse of the illusions. Bernard and Watson were deported to Iceland and the land of savages. From the movie, the place is pathetic and dirty. For the characters, it represents Utopia due to the fact that they can exercise their freedoms and achieve true happiness. In the Matrix, the real world as aforementioned is characterized by a scorched sky and sewers remaining as the evident remnants of the dominant cities.However, in the two productions, there is a transcending from utopia to dystopia by the protagonists in the film. Bernard Marx can be termed as unique and different such that he could not conform to the expectations in the world state. He was born physically deprived as an Alpha but shared their intelligence.
Watson and Bernard become conscious of the ignorance as portrayed by the citizens of the world state such as Lenina. Watson is also apprehensive and deviates from satisfactions and pleasures derived from drug use and immoralities in the World State. The Utopia known to the mentioned characters transforms into dystopia. They regard the reservations where the savages lived as their perfect world. It is because individuals here had a choice of doing what they wanted and existed as uncontrolled environments.
Utopia for both films can be denoted to underliereal democracies founded on civil liberties and individual freedoms. It can be denoted that what was once the primary protagonist’sutopia becomes the reality of his world. The two films showcase the battle between utopia and dystopia. The main characters hit a tipping point where what was once their utopia becomes their dystopia. The fine line between utopia and dystopia is, therefore, demarcated.
The notion of ignorance is a primary distress as individuals remain unconcerned with the dynamics of what is going around them. The idea of ignorance can be implied to be the tipping point towards identifying the realities of the world. The World State is a display of orthodox conditioning to maintain peace, economy and the society. The controlled births and categorizations into the 5 castes- Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Epsilons- assumed this role. For the characters, the world states become the dystopia and the reserves their utopia. For Neo, in the Matrix, the Underground city of Zion becomes his utopia. Zion can be said to work almost on Utopian values as each and every individual has specific roles in an endeavor to create a habitable community while they continue fighting against the machines.
The movies Brave New World and The Matrix represent dystopian regimes. The Utopia created to enslave the minds of the humankind quickly transforms into a dystopia. It isthe realization by the protagonists and renouncement of their ignorance and indifference towards what is going on around them. The real Utopian system assumed in the paper is one where there exist free will and freedom to choose. It is one that motivates singularity and does not incite or force conformity to particular cultures aimed at repression and oppression. A Utopia remains an illusion since to achieve true happiness entities must be able to strike a balance between suffering and happiness.
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