Neo flies in the Matrix Reloaded

The Matrix: Reloaded, Decoded

Is Neo in a Cult? Are You?

The tragedy of The Matrix Reloaded is not only that it           abandons the savior motif it so obviously advertised in the first           film for a bait and switch, but also that the product delivered           in the sequel is not even good old Hinduism or Buddhism—or even           relativism for that matter—but a vapid and reheated heresy packaged           in a smart business suit and sold at a price in a hotel conference           room.

the brothers

“At the speed of light all the physical factors disappear. Naturally churches tend to become extremely spiritualized places. The theology of discarnate man, I should think, is going to be extremely transcendental and Gnostic. It’s not going to have much place for the human being as an incarnate spirit.”

—Marshall McLuhan, interview in The Review of Books and Religion
(Belmont, VT), Vol. 3, #9, Mid-June 1974.

If you watch The Matrix again, and then go see Reloaded again, you begin to notice some very unusual similarities between Neo’s entrance into the matrix and what many have experienced as initiation into a very specific kind of cult. And it’s the media, not just the message, of the cult’s recruiting techniques that are employed throughout the film—aggressive spam marketing, a come-on from a club girl hottie, an anonymous hotel room pitch, and then invasion of your entire life.

Here are some chief characteristics of a cult, and key lines from The Matrix and The Matrix: Reloaded that went unrecognized until now . . . feel free to send in your own evidence either inside or outside the Matrix.

1. Aggressive stealth marketing/recruiting techniques

“The Matrix has you.”

“Knock, knock, Neo.” —messages on Neo’s computer screen

2. The group believes it—and only it—knows the truth.

“All I’m offering you is the truth.” —Morpheus to Neo, making his pitch in an anonymous hotel room.

“Welcome to the real world.” —Morpheus to Neo

3. Social disruption, isolation, and pressure.

“I know why you live alone, Neo, and why night after night you sit at your computer . . .” —Trinity to Neo, recruiting him at a club

4. Fear, anxiety, and paranoia.

“I don’t believe it. This isn’t real. This isn’t happening. Let me out!” —Neo to Morpheus

“He’s gonna pop!” —Cypher to Morpheus, describing Neo about to vomit

5. Control of information.

Q. “How do you know all this?”

A. “We don’t have much time. What I can tell you, Neo, is that they’re coming for you.” —Neo and Morpheus on their first cell phone conversation

“Patience, Neo. The answers are coming.” —Morpheus to Neo

6. The leader believes he knows what is best for individual members.

“He knows more than you can possibly imagine.” Trinity to Neo, just before he meets Morpheus

“This is your last chance, Neo.” —Morpheus to Neo

7. Subjection to stress and fatigue.

“Did you sleep? You will tonight: I guarantee it.” —Tank to Neo, before beginning his “programming”

“Ten hours straight. He’s a machine.” —Tank to Morpheus, describing Neo’s endurance

8. Escalating commitment.

“I can’t go back, can I?” —Neo to Morpheus, after waking up on the Nebuchadnezzar

9. Use of auto-hypnotism to induce ‘peak’ experiences.

“This is the jump program. You have to let it all go, Neo: fear, doubt, disbelief.”—Morpheus to Neo, encouraging him to make a suicidal jump off a building (cf. “Kid’s Story” in The Animatrix, complete with warning about an “apparent teen suicide”)

10. Distorted view of Christ. In fact, a “devastating critique of all salvation narratives.”

“You are the One.” —Morpheus to Neo, a white computer hacker played by agnostic Canawaiian Keanu Reeves. Whoa.

“It was all a lie. Just another system of control” —Neo to Morpheus, on the reliability of the Oracle

11. When in doubt, follow the money. . . .

L. Ron Hubbard, creator of Scientology, and his friend/colleague/associate Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, both knew something that many have forgotten: that with “God dead” since 1882, the spiritual void of the twentieth century would have to be filled, and that a boatload of money was there for the taking by anyone who could create new “religions” with scientific sounding names, terms, and ideas.

Hubbard trained Werner Erhard.

Erhard created est, or Erhard’s Seminar Training.

Est turned into the Forum.

The Forum is now called Landmark Education. They are not a cult. They are not a religion. Repeat this line again and again. Got it? Are you “clear” on this point?

Now the punchline.

Just guess—no, really, guess—who graduated from Landmark?

Here’s a hint: His name is Robert Paulsen.

Here’s another: You don’t talk about it.

And another: What you’re feeling is premature enlightenment.

Now guess again.

You guessed it!

You are such a machine. . . .

Like you’ve heard elsewhere: the speed of light is not your friend.

Weird weather these days, huh?

revised 2003-07-03

posted by editor ::: June 29, 2003 ::: philms ::: (63) Comments