The Matrix is one of the most beloved movies of all time, and the Wachowskis originally made one of its main characters a trans woman.
The general public was originally drawn to The matrix due to its jaw-dropping gun-fu action and groundbreaking cinematography, but the film remains a classic because of the way it tackles complex philosophical subjects. Written and directed by the Wachowski sisters, the film examines topics ranging from religion to the nature of consciousness.
One aspect that has remained largely unexplored until recently is how The matrix addresses trans identity. Lana and Lilly Wachowski are both trans women who have talked about how the film tackles trans issues. In fact, one of the Morpheus team members Switch was originally written to be a trans woman in the film’s first draft.
Switch was one of only two women to serve aboard the Nebuchadnezzar and took Neo to meet Morpheus, the leader of a group battling the machines that subjugate humanity. Morpheus offered Neo a choice of two pills, one blue and one red. Neo accepted the red pill that allowed him to escape the artificial reality of the Matrix, waking up for the first time in his real body in the real world. As Neo learned, characters could connect their brains to machines and re-enter the Matrix. Switch and Apoc worked closely on missions, and the two were killed when another crew member, Cypher, betrayed the group.
A central part of The matrix is the distinction between the Real World and the artificial reality of the Matrix. In an interview with BBC News, Lilly Wachowski said: “We had the character of Switch – which was a character who would be a man in the real world and then a woman in The Matrix.” This makes it clear that trans themes have been a part of history from the start, as Switch was originally intended to be trans. In an interview with Them, Lilly said, “Yes, [The Matrix] is a trans allegory – it was made by two secret trans women. How can it not be ?! “
According to IMDb, when Warner Bros. chose actor Belinda McClory to play Switch, they tweaked the script to have McClory play the character both in The Matrix and in the real world. Switch’s name is a reference to her character’s original gender portrayal, and she’s been given a deliberately androgynous look to reflect that.
The representation of his body in the Matrix is a manifestation of his consciousness. As Morpheus explains to Neo, “Your appearance is what we call ‘the residual self-image.’ It is the mental projection of your digital self.” This explains why Switch would have lived as a woman inside the Matrix but appeared more masculine in the real world.
Since The matrix addresses many topics, it has been interpreted in various ways, and reading the text of the film through any lens risks ignoring other aspects of it. However, not all readings are equally valid. It must be said that human rights activists have frequently cited The matrix as a metaphor for how femininity corrupts cis men, using the term “taking the red pill” to refer to what they see as a philosophical awakening as they have come to embrace their new beliefs. Any thorough examination and criticism of their arguments in relation to this scene would take too long to be included here, but since many of their beliefs are highly transphobic, it should be noted that they are undermined by the fact that the Wachowskis are themselves- same trans women and by Switch’s original conception as a trans woman.
In the years since its release, The matrix has become a major topic in discussions of trans themes in cinema. Writers like Andra Long Chu and Cáel M. Keegan, author of Lana and Lilly Wachowski: feeling transgender, have helped shape this discourse. This is why the original identity of Switch is so important. At a time when trans portrayal was almost non-existent in film, the Wachowskis tried to include a trans character as a hero in a major action blockbuster – a film that has since become a staple of the air in the movie. cultural time. If Switch’s identity hadn’t been changed by Warner Bros., The matrix could have been even more revolutionary.
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