The year was 1999. American Beauty was considered a classic by suburban society (this Brooklyn kid still doesn’t understand why), MySpace started the social network revolution, and Keanu Reeves made the comeback heard ‘round the world.
Right as the 20th century was coming to a close and the world was panicking at the horrific possibilities that the Y2K bug was capable of wreaking on mankind, unflappable individuals such as myself were still trying to cope with the sudden death of Big Pun (R.I.P) and the notion that we all may be living in the confines of a living organism of an artificial intelligence. This began weighing on us after watching a game-changing movie called The Matrix.
Released in the spring of 1999, The Matrix opened more minds than Ben Carson with its intricate story, revolutionary special effects and disturbing yet insightful conspiracy theory. Are we all slaves to machines? Truth is, yes we are, but that’s neither here nor there. I’m here to talk about the one scene that’s led to more than enough debates in barbershops, building stoops and park benches. It was that real, that deep, and that passionate. And it was all because of a single movie scene.
I’m talking about that famous red pill/blue pill scene in which Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) gave Neo (Keanu Reeves) the choice to change his life. “Take the blue pill. The story ends, you wake up in your bed and you believe whatever you want to believe.” Or, “you take the red pill. You stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
Standing there with a fresh cut baldy, an ankle high one-piece leather suit that would make Kanye West hate on him out of pure jealousy, and a pair of shades that are balanced to perfection on his nose, Morpheus personifies the term, dipped. Then in a cool, calm and collected demeanor, Morpheus commences to drop more knowledge than Bill Nye The Science Guy. But he wasn’t showing Neo how to turn water vapor into liquid water (not that complicated by the way), he was breaking down the very person who Neo was.
“You’re like Alice and your brain is chained up. You don’t believe in fate because you hate the idea of not being self, lord and master. I bet you wear “No Fear” shirts on the weekend when you’re not working. Yet, you’re here with me because you know something that you can’t explain, but you feel it and you’ve felt it for a while. It’s something that bothers you. It’s a splinter in your mind and it drives you mad. It’s the feeling that if not for this film franchise your legacy will be forever linked to Bill & Ted, and it eats you up inside like The Karate Kid does Ralph Macchio. And it’s this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?”
After quickly breaking down that the Matrix is God in the sense that it’s everything and everywhere ( I feel I’m in the Matrix every time I pay my taxes), Morpheus sums up the enlightenment with a simple truth –– “You are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind.”
He then holds a blue pill in his left hand and a red pill in his right and asks Neo to choose. Naturally a man of science and curiosity will do anything to not only learn, but also explore and find ways to prove his theories, so Neo does just that. After taking the red and choosing to see the world for what it truly is, Neo and Morpheus open up a world of harsh truths. And the reality that many of us are content with being sheep in some way, shape or form.
But the real question with this scene has always been, what would you do if you were in Neo’s shoes? And this became the debate that got more intense with every passing bottle of cognac. What kind of person are you? Are you ready to face true reality and basically hit the reset button on your life mid-game? Or, are you content with living a lie that you’ve become accustomed to and have no interest in changing? I don’t know about you, but I’m all about accepting reality no matter how late in life. However, if a dude in a leather outfit starts a conversation with me by calling me Alice, I doubt I’m taking any kind of pill he’s offering. Especially with this Molly madness going on.