The Matrix is dazzlingly clever distillation of philosophical ideas and thought experiments into a sci-fi matinée actioner; itself can be viewed in red-pill mode, or blue-pill mode.

Keanu Reeves’ Neo character is offered the chance to either take the blue pill and go back to living in a dream world, or take the red pill and discover the brutal reality of his existence.

It’s not a spoiler to say he takes the red pill, otherwise, there would be no movie, right? Once awake, he discovers the whole of society is being farmed, precisely like battery hens. Humanity is being kept in a coma from cradle to grave; fed everything they need to stay alive, including the illusion of a normal life delivered directly to their cerebral cortices. (SQUID en masse, if you will.)

Of course, in this scene, he’s yet to work all that out.

You don’t have to be an internet propeller-head to get the metaphor. The media is the Matrix. TV, Movies, Newspapers… and now Social Media. The whole of western society is hooked up to it. It’s feeding everybody their dreams. It’s feeding you your dreams.

Firstly, the reason I’m going here, is to remind you that it’s a copywriter’s job to keep people connected to the Matrix; to be Agent Smith. Are you okay with that?

Secondly, the Red Pill/Blue Pill scene beautifully encapsulates (sorry!) what happens when you decide to become a Movie trailer or TV promo producer. As I explain in my tutorial on scene selection, promo producers have to consciously study what they are watching… once you have trained yourself to do that, it’s almost impossible to be a “regular viewer” again.

You will go to the cinema to watch a movie, find yourself hearing a great soundbite, to then have your conscious mind interrupt the story to tell you to stop the film and write it down.

So… which pill do you want to take?


Both The Matrix and Strange Days owe much of their premises to Robert Nozick’s 1974 book Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Specifically the “Experience Machine” device which presents the choice of living life of reality with all its attendant ups and downs, or one of simulated reality.

As well as this, The Matrix stands on the shoulders of Jean Baudrillard, Lewis Carroll and Plato.

Posted by Charley Holland

Charley Holland is a copywriter, creative, communicator type.

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