A glance at the cyberpunk literature of the past decade offers a similar sense of doom. The authors imagine worlds where people escape the hell of reality in a virtual realm (Ready Player One), entire cities are ravaged by electronic waste (Waste Tide), global democracy is fueled by engine companies monopoly research (Infomocracy), humans are addicted to cybernetic implants (The Body Scout) and developing countries are exploited for their sustainable energy (Noor). Familiar cyberpunk tropes – holograms, mega-bodies, rebellious subcultures – are happening again. Optimism remains largely absent.
As gloomy as it may be, the popularity of cyberpunk is set to continue. The latest issue of CYBR, which imagines the world in 2070, offers readers the choice of two covers, a dystopian, showing a cloudy and polluted world, and another sunny, colorful, utopian. “This is our climate change problem,” says the editor. “The choice is ours, isn’t it? In 50 years, what will the world be like? So the idea of ââmaking two covers is that you can choose the future you want.” Joseph says that the dystopian blanket takes place in a cyberpunk future, while the utopian blanket is solarpunk – a recently coined term that imagines a world where technology has helped humans overcome problems like climate change. âIronically, the dystopian blanket sells twice as fast as the utopian blanket. I think people find it cooler.â
The first Matrix movie included a biting critique of our fascination with dystopia. Agent Smith tells us that the original simulation that the humans were placed in was a paradise, designed to keep everyone happy. But “it was a disaster,” he said, explaining that humans couldn’t accept the program and were trying to wake up from it. He continues: âI believe that as a species, human beings define their reality through misery and suffering.
Given their influence, it’s possible that cyberpunk works like The Matrix not only predicted a dystopian future, but also drew us towards one. If Resurrections is to be successful, giving us everything we haven’t already had from the last 40 years of cyberpunk, perhaps that can suggest a new direction for humanity, a picture of a world where humans work alongside. machines to escape our impending doom. Or maybe it will just offer us an escape from reality. As Morpheus said in the original film: “Fate, it seems, is not without irony.”
The Matrix Resurrections releases December 22 in theaters and on HBO Max in the US, and in theaters in the UK
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