Ideology and Reality in the Movie, The Matrix Essay examples

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Ideology and Reality in the Movie, The Matrix

The matrix, as presented in the eponymous film, operates as an Althusserian Ideological State Apparatus (ISA). The Matrix1 presents a world in which "the state [as] a 'machine' of repression" is made literal where robots rule the land (Althusser 68). It is true that they rule by force (sentinels and agents) and these constitute the Repressive State Apparatus, but their primary force of subjugation is the matrix, their ISA. The film traces the path of one man, Neo, in his painful progress from the ideology of the matrix to the "real world," or the ideology of the "real."2 The matrix, unlike the ideology of the "real," is explicitly defined along Althusserian lines as an ISA.
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These are the "world outlooks" of "religious ideology, ethical ideology, legal ideology, political ideology, etc." (87). It is important to realize that ideology here is a completely imaginary construct, though from within any particular ideology, it is indistinguishable from the borders of "the real conditions of...existence" (87). Althusser identifies a second thesis regarding ideology: "Ideology has a material existence" (Althusser 89). In spite of its necessarily imaginary nature, ideology is only manifested through physical action. This materiality introduces the notion of the subject. "The existence of the ideas of [the subject's] belief is material in that his ideas are his material actions inserted into material practices governed by material rituals which are themselves defined by the material ideological apparatus from which derive the ideas of that subject" (92). Which is to say that, a subject's intellectual ideas are only manifested through the physical actions that are inherently rooted in the ideology. It is impossible to express thought without action, and it is impossible to act without ideology. Thus, ideology becomes not only the imaginary relationship to reality, but also the physicality of reality. Being both the idea of reality and the material manifestation of such, ideology then becomes indistinguishable from reality, leading to Althusser's use of both terms

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