With the fracturing of society splintering into ever more minority groups we try to be as supportive as possible. Only last weekend we went on a march to support a fair skinned ginger haired writer of ours……at least we would have if the sun hadn’t come out so the march was called off. (‘You’re fired!’ – Ed). But the computer savvy are another group who get a bad press, locked away in their bedrooms scouring the computer and getting their kicks from saucy binary code layouts. It’s little wonder that for them it wasn’t the state of the art effects in The Matrix but the cascading binary code that they got their kicks. But the central theory of the film that was partly inspired by an idea espoused by Philip K Dick namely ‘simulation theory’ – the idea that we are merely avatars in a computer simulated world. Dick was a writer of sci-fi classics that went onto become films notably Blade runner and in documentary A Glitch in the Matrix there’s several clips of him first addressing the notion to a group of assembled French fans back in the 1970’s.
The writer was not without his own issues but it’s a theory that was given a certain degree of credence by several scientists and it came to a wider audience with the release of 1999’s ‘The Matrix’. Director Rodney Ascher has found a huge swathe of people who believe themselves to be living in such a world. Now A Glitch in the Matrix to many will sound like a crack pot idea taken up by those with too much time on their hand, mentally unhinged and who have taken gaming far too seriously and in fairness they may well have a point on seeing the first contributor and it would be spoiling it to say just how these ‘believers’ present themselves on camera. They put forward their moment of discovery that all is not as it seems in this world and how they further explored the idea with one of them having gone out of his way to test the simulation theory relaying his sustained sensory deprivation from out of body experiences after lying in floatation tanks – something our Editor claims to have done until we pointed out that collapsing in a puddle after passing out from alcohol poisoning in doesn’t count (‘You’re still fired!’ – Ed).
A Glitch in the Matrix delves deeper into its subject matter going beyond the premise of a neurotic sci-fi writer and taking in Descartes ‘Evil Demon’ theory and further back still to the philosophy of Plato. Like all of Rodney Ascher’s documentaries this finds marginal figures with intriguing people with stories that eventually get ever darker. His most recent documentary The El Duce Tapes and its self destructive rock star was one such film and A Glitch in the Matrix allows Joshua Cooke to tell his story. An obsessive gamer he became hooked on The Matrix watching it multiple times a day eventually buying himself a trench coat and wandering around shopping malls listening to the soundtrack on headphones. It all coming to a horrifying end at home as he slaughtered his parents with a shotgun he kept in his bedroom. Perhaps just as horrifying is the nonchalant matter of fact way he recounts what happened that fateful day from prison where he is serving a sentence for murder ineligible for parole until 2043.
It’s an intriguing documentary using an immense number of clips from movies to illustrate how the theory has infiltrated mainstream Hollywood films (and for film fans it’s a test to identify all of them which takes in everything from The Wizard of Oz to Blazing Saddles!) though like many of Ascher’s films it is overlong and is something of a warning about the merging of reality and an ever refining digital world. With the lockdown from the pandemic many have had an enforced isolation with a digital world the only outlet so when powerful and immensely wealthy figures like Elon Musk are highly vocal and ardent supporters of the theory it makes for a slightly worrying watch with several clips of, at least certainly in one case, the unhinged latching on to some tenuous claims to back up the theory.
That the lonely and vulnerable can be drawn into this ‘other world’ perhaps is a sad reflection of what society really needs is love and human interaction.
We spoke to director Rodney Ascher about the film……
Here’s the trailer for A Glitch in the Matrix………