The Matrix
Credit: Warner Brothers/Courtesy Everett Collection

Forget Mr. Anderson, Hugo Weaving is now coming after Donald Trump and the alt-right for exploiting The Matrix.

Weaving, who portrayed the villainous Agent Smith in the 1999 sci-fi blockbuster, expressed his feelings about the recent explosion of the use of the "red pill" analogy in support of Trump. In The Matrix, the red pill was offered to the film's protagonist Neo (Keanu Reeves) as a tool to bring him enlightenment to free his mind from the lies of the world, no matter how unpleasant.

"I am befuddled by it," he told The Daily Beast."It just goes to show how people don’t read below surfaces. They don’t read between the lines. They will take something that they think is cool and they will repurpose it to fit themselves when the original intention or meaning of that thing was quite the opposite."

He also slams those wearing Guy Fawkes masks popularized in 2005's V for Vendetta, where he portrayed V, a skilled anarchist, who wore the disguise.

"I’d say the same thing about the V for Vendetta mask," he explained. "There was a group at the Black Lives Matter protest that were up against [the BLM protesters] with their guns, and two or three of those guys were wearing V for Vendetta masks, and I was like, 'Wow, man. That couldn’t be more the opposite of what it stands for!' The original V was based on Guy Fawkes, and these guys were trying to blow up the House of Parliament. They were young Catholic protesters who were being persecuted by their government, trying to rebel against that, and taking very violent course of action to make their cause. To me, that mask has always represented questioning the government. And somehow now it’s guys who are generally unhappy with what’s going on, or guys who think they look cool."

Weaving also noted the dangers of picking and choosing only parts of a film, which requires deep thought, to fit their purpose — which is quite the opposite of its intended meaning by the filmmakers.

"The same with The Matrix. There was something to do with looking cool in black with a gun, and then you can go into a school and shoot people and somehow you’re immune from the consequences of that because you feel like you’re cool—you feel like you’re V, or you feel like you’re Neo or something," the longtime actor said. "It’s a very, very shallow reading of the intention of a film. That’s a problem with popular culture: these films are profoundly thought through, but it’s too easy to look cool, have a cool haircut, and have a gun, and you think that’s all you need to do in life. But you haven’t thought about what that gun is for, and what that haircut is for, and what those black clothes are meant to be. What are you trying to do all this for? Is it all narcissism and ego? Or is it about community and thinking about what’s right for other people? When you get such a split in society, it’s because there isn’t the leadership at the top. They aren’t thinking about other people and are only thinking about themselves. Trump is the classic, most unbelievable example. 'Narcissist' is a stupid thing to say, it’s so obvious. He doesn’t give a flying f— about anyone else but himself. It’s just unbelievable that he’s the president."

The Matrix's co-creator Lilly Wachowski has also taken a stand against the flagrant misuse of "take the red pill" by Ivanka Trump and Elon Musk on social media in May.

Lilly has since gone on to disclose how the film serves as a "trans narrative." In the Netflix documentary Disclosure, which explores the history of trans representation in media, the filmmaker, who co-directed the production with sibling Lana, shared that the allegory was indeed "the original intention" for the movie.

"I'm glad that it has gotten out," she says in Disclosure. "That was the original intention, but the corporate world wasn't ready for it. When you make movies and it's this public art form, I think [with] any kind of art that you put out into the universe there's a letting-go process because it's entering into public dialogue. I like that, that there's an evolution process that we as human beings engage in art in a non-linear way, that we can always talk about something in new ways and in new light."

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The Matrix
  • Movie
  • 136 minutes