Shabcast 16 - Do White Saviours Dream of Electric Sheeple?


I'm planning to make up for the lack of any Shabcasts in February by providing loads in March, and here's the first. 

This time I'm joined by the amazing Mayor Kevin Burns - my favourite US politician, and one half of the Pex Lives team - to talk about the Matrix movies.  For some reason.

I wanted to hear him indulge his hate, you see.  I went in intending to sortakindamaybe half-play the role of 'good cop' (at least with regards the first film) but that didn't last long.

Please enjoy our show, in which we analyse (i.e. pillory) the three films, review the old 'do movies cause violence?' debate, complain about the Hollywood CGI singularity, ponder the unfortunate obsessions and attitudes of the late 90s-early 2000s, and look back with sadness and shame on our wasted youths.

Download here

Next time I'll be joined by the wonderful Shana of the Oi! Spaceman podcast, to talk about some good films, the 80s Jim Henson fantasy masterpieces The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth.



Joe 4 years, 10 months ago

What is the source of that terrific image?

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Jack Graham 4 years, 10 months ago

It's from Charlie Brooker's How to Watch Television.

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Matt 4 years, 10 months ago

Nice to hear Fight Club get a mention. It is ultimately suspicious of its hero's own narrative. But it is a film that couldn't be made today for 3 reasons:
- They want to blow up credit card companies. The banks got nearly destroyed - and then they got saved. The banks are bomb-proof.
- Blowing up buildings is not a US militia Oklahoma City bombing thing anymore (as it was in 1999). It's a Muslim terrorist thing. Only Muslims are supposed to blow things up. Or maybe North Koreans.
- Finally, the outlet for male frustration is other males. Not woman (as in Gamergate). There's only one major female character in the film (Marla) and she has some agency but it is largely a film about men.

And also good to hear Dark City get a mention.

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Tim B. 4 years, 10 months ago

The issue that they conspicuously ignore (and I think they're thankful for the casting of Keanu Reeves in this regard) is that any narrative involving simulated reality has to ask if reality can be simulated why do you presume that the reality creating the simulation is in fact the 'original' reality rather than another simulation - I'm afraid it's turtles all the way down (and all the way up for that matter) .

AFAIK the moral panic about the Columbine shootings focused on Marilyn Manson, who's perfectly reasonable response to the commentators was essentially may be take a look at the parenting techniques before criticizing entertainment figures.

No thoughts about Existenz or World On A Wire?

Must agree with Kevin about Speed Racer, it's their best film by a country mile, however Cloud Atlas is a jaw droppingly awful example of Yellowface with the male cast and I can see why Jupiter Ascending was released in January to put it politely

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Nick R 4 years, 10 months ago

Not listened to the podcast yet (and I'm not sure I really want to hear two hours of my favourite ever action movie being torn apart - though I give you free rein to rip into the sequels however you want), but in reply to this:

> any narrative involving simulated reality has to ask if reality can be simulated why do you presume that the reality creating the simulation is in fact the 'original' reality rather than another simulation - I'm afraid it's turtles all the way down (and all the way up for that matter) .

I'm glad that they didn't do that, because "Matrix within a Matrix!" seemed to be everyone's first thought as soon as the sequel was announced - at least, it was at my school. I suppose though even though they didn't literally do that, they still suggested in several other ways that people were still ultimately under control in the layer above the simulation.

As I say, I haven't listened to the podcast yet, so this may well be mentioned, but IIRC The Thirteenth Floor did that simulation-within-a-simulation thing pretty well. (That film being the other thing that's often mentioned when people compare The Matrix to its predecessors - but it tends to come some way down the list, below Dark City, Ghost in the Shell, Blade, Hard-Boiled, eXistenZ, The Deadly Assassin, Johnny Mnemonic, The Truman Show, Red Dwarf's Better Than Life, and that episode of the mid-'90s TV series Bugs where someone has piloting skills downloaded into their brain.)

As for the Wachowskis' other films: Bound is a great thriller; Speed Racer is one of my favourite family adventure films, and the reviewers who complained that the plot was too complicated for kids were missing the point; the main thing I remember about Cloud Atlas are some not-really-very-profound voiceovers and some excellent action in the future scenes (though they may well have been Tom Tykwer's doing?), and Jupiter Ascending was poor by almost any measure but somehow rather likeable.

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Kevin 4 years, 10 months ago

Well, I definitely got to indulge my hate for these movies, which felt nice.

@Tim B. Yeah, fair enough on Cloud Atlas. I honestly didn't remember that, but I looked it up and it's jogged my memory. In terms of Existenz and World on a Wire, I'm sad to say I've seen neither.

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Anton B 4 years, 10 months ago

Surprised, given the host site's ongoing Last War in Albion thread that no mention was made of the contemporary accusations of plagiarism regarding Grant Morrison's The Invisibles and The Matrix . I could never see it myself and I liked The Invisibles a lot, it's THE pre-millennial paranoia text IMHO. The only parrallel is the suggestion of multi levels of realities as far as I can see. An avenue the subsequent movies didn't explore. Apparantly copies of the comic were spotted on set but Morrison didn't feel compelled to sue.

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5tephe 4 years, 10 months ago

Superb podcast guys. I think I'm a couple of years older than Jack, so that made me mid 20s, and still an unevolved dick when I saw it.

A point you might be interested in: The female character wearing white that you mention, who gets one of the few good moments of honest character emotion in the first film ...

... her character is named Switch. Yes, that's yet another terrible "hacker" name, but apparently in the original conception she was to be a male in the Real world, and female in the Matrix. SWITCH, geddit?

So that is both an interesting early glimpse into the Wachowski sisters' gender identity, and one of the MUCH MORE INTERESTING things they could have done - well, apparently considered doing - but decided against.

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