1999. I was a freshman in college down in North Carolina and The Matrix just blew my mind. It was like it spoke directly to me. The dark aesthetics. The “whoa” philosophy. The idea that this world wasn’t real and we just needed to wake the eff up. When my friends and I went to see it, we hit up the Waffle House afterwards, as one was apt to do at the time, and a transgendered waitress served us while we had big deep, funny discussions about big, deep stuff. Who knew then the journey any of us, including the Wachowskis who created The Matrix, would take?
Later that same year South Park hit its satirical, absurd, crude zenith with its own movie that also blew our minds in far different ways.
Over the years the franchises took different paths. The Matrix murdered itself with two misbegotten sequels that lazily played into the old messiah storyline. South Park kept chugging along, sharpening its wit and satire and constantly holding a mirror to the follies of both sides of any hot button debate.
Flash forward over 20 years to 2021. Both franchises are at it again, still the same, yet somehow flipped. South Park is now imagining a future, Post COVID, that in these absurd times seems not so absurd, while The Matrix in its Resurrections has added satire and humor to wake us up once again. Both entertained me to varying comfortable degrees while also being huge messes (hey, ain’t that state of the world today?), and both, previously known for being cutting edge and deep, reflect instead simple universal maxims.
The Matrix: Resurrections posits that to get out of this seemingly endless self-reflective loop in our lives and in our entertainment, all you need is love.
South Park: Post COVID posits something similar. To get through this seemingly unending pandemic that has been hell in one way or another for everyone (yes, even those who don’t believe it’s real…can you imagine how stressful it must be to believe in those conspiracy theories?), let’s just cut each other some slack (and smoke some damn weed to chill out).
After the past two years we’ve had, maybe we should all take a deep breath and ride those wavelengths.
Or maybe we should finally wake up?
When I jokingly roleplayed as Morpheus and imagined my 3yo son was Neo, I asked if he wanted the red pill or the blue bill. With a big smile and a laugh, he boldly stated he wanted the brown pill. Does that mean he’ll be a South Park fan instead of a Matrix fan?
Eh, the children really are the future. Now where’s that latest reboot of something I loved in my youth?
Author’s Side Note: As a true sign of the times I enjoyed both of these films in the comfort of my own home while folding laundry, and banking & shopping online.
(South Park: Post COVID is streaming in two parts on Paramount+ while The Matrix: Resurrections is on HBO Max)
I haven’t watched “Resurrections” yet (still unpacking from my move two weeks ago–finally out of the Mayfair neighborhood, which stinks of pot and sounds like a Fast and Furious movie 24-7), but I had a similar experience with the first “Matrix” movie. It was the spring semester of my Junior year of college, and I went with a few friends opening weekend. I remember being unsure about it in the first half-hour or so, but once it fully started its world building and went into those crazy action sequences, I was hooked. I still love Trinity learning to fly a helicopter in mere seconds. After the movie, we went to a late-night pizza joint and talked about the movie until the managers kicked us out. Those were good times. I’m not a big fan of the sequels, but I don’t think they’re the total wrecks they’re made out to be. There’s some good to be taken from them. I also knew a girl in college who looked exactly like Carrie-Ann Moss, though she’d give you stink-eye if you called her “Trinity.”
I was a big fan of South Park when it first came on. I remember having several VHS tapes with episodes I’d either taped off of Comedy Central or dubbed from other VHS copies. I was also at the movie opening weekend and thought it was a blast. I kinda fell off of South Park back in ’02 or ’03 and haven’t really been able to get back into it. Something about it just feels off to me. I remember a co-worker of mine telling me to give it another chance, and I tried, but the episode I watched (something about Stan coaching a little league hockey team) was more depressing than funny, so I haven’t gone back. Maybe I’ll give the post-COVID episodes a shot.
Hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!