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Richard King
Instructor: Katie Lookholder
Sociology 001 - Section #32395
February 2nd, 2016
The Matrix
The Matrix is a 1999 film which was made by the Wachowski siblings and stars Keanu
Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss. In the film, Keanu Reeves plays a computer
programmer named Thomas Anderson who is also a Hacker named Neo. Neo becomes obsessed
with the idea that the world is not what it appears to be and that the truth lies within the cyber
world. He is contacted by a cyber-legend named Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) who reveals to
Neo that the world we all know is actually a cyber-construct created and controlled by sentient
robots who are harvesting humans for energy. Morpheus is able to wake Neo up to reality and
locate his true body and bring him into the real world. From this point, they take part in a battle
to take back the planet from these robots which is wrought with peril and obstacles such as
cyber-agents who work to thwart their progress. Neo had been prophesized to be the one to
save humanity and indeed lives up to expectations in a messiah-esque manner. This story tells
quite an epic tale and would take two sequels to complete. The Matrix captures human drama
and existential struggle in an entertaining way and shows us both the beauty and the horrors of
humanity and technology and can very clearly be viewed through the lens of sociology.
Emile Durkheim would see The Matrix as an example of how all aspects of
society affect and help one another. Without the robots need for energy, would the people even
still be alive? Surely the robots would have simply annihilated humanity if they did not have a
need or a niche for them in order to harvest. Of course, the robots would not have even been
created without human ingenuity. Other characters, such as the agents and other constructs of the

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matrix itself exist solely to perpetuate this battle between human and machine. Indeed, Agent
Smith experiences an existential crisis and goes rogue as the trilogy progresses. This paradigm
could surely be interpreted throughout the film as one side compliments the other in order to
survive and, those who are of no use, fade and die.
Auguste Comte might see this as a clear example of how people can
change the world through a series of self-affirming events such as when Neo finds the strength,
courage and faith-in-himself to emerge as the one. This takes quite a bit of prompting from the
others to push him to believe in himself. This positivism does seem to be central to how the plot
plays out. Each character in this film fulfills a specific role in the outcome of the story. There is
one character who betrays the cause and attempts to sabotage the entire mission and even his
actions play a role in motivating the team to fight harder to accomplish their goal; he is kind of
the Judas to Neos messiah complex. This film is a great study of teamwork and how humans
(and anthropomorphic machines) can work together to accomplish specific goals and change
their world.
This theme of Neo and the others changing their world with individual
acts and working as a small group could also fit into the Symbolic Interaction paradigm in which
people can change their worlds through acts of individual and symbolic meaning. There is quite a
bit of symbolism in this film and Neo must act on an individual path. He is taken to a prophet to
find out if he is truly the one but is told that he is not. It is only through a series of lifethreatening events that he realizes that he is the one despite what the prophet told him. Morpheus
explains that she told him what he needed to hear in order for him to realize his fate. Neo must
act of his own volition and without promise of reward in order to change their world.
Karl Marx would have a field day with this story. Social conflict

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perspective is clearly evident in just about every aspect of this story. The Matrix is a tale of
conflict and fighting for resources. In this case, the resources are the humans themselves. The
robots have taken over the planet and it is up to the humans to fight for their very existence. The
robots are symbolic of what could happen in a runaway economy where the rich just keep getting
richer and the poor must fight to survive. Many people believe that our country is headed in that
direction already and that we must take steps to avoid a dystopian future where we are all
fighting to survive. The Matrix is a science fiction film that, on the face, could seem silly but the
message is a cautionary tale of both out-of-control wealth inequality and unfettered technology.
While all three paradigms are present in this story, conflict theory is by far the most prominent
theme on display in this film.
The Matrix can be found on the Shatford Library website here:

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Work Cited
The Matrix. Dir. Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski. Perf. Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne,
Carry-Anne Moss. Warner Bros. 1999. Film.