My Lacanian friends are telling me that the authors must have read Lacan. The Frankfurt School partisans see in The Matrix the extrapolated embodiment of Kulturindustrie, directly taking over, colonizing our inner life itself, using us as the source of energy. New Agers see how our world is just a mirage generated by a global Mind embodied in the World Wide Web. Or the series is a baroque illustration of Plato’s cave, in which ordinary humans are prisoners, tied firmly to their seats and compelled to watch the shadowy performance of (what they falsely consider to be) reality—in short, the position of the cinema spectators themselves.
This search for the philosophical content of The Matrix is therefore a lure, a trap to be avoided. Such readings that project into the film refined philosophical or psychoanalytic conceptual distinctions are effectively much inferior to a naïve immersion that I witnessed when I saw The Matrix at a local theater in Slovenia. I had the unique opportunity to sit close to a man in his late twenties who was so engrossed in the film that he repeatedly disturbed other spectators with loud exclamations like: “My God, wow, so there is no reality! So we are all puppets!”
[Extract. Appeared in In These Times, on June 6th, 2003. (full text).]