Stereotypes in the Film The Matrix Essay

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Stereotypes in the Film The Matrix

The purpose of this paper is to expose some of the stereotypes present in the film The Matrix, directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski. In order to accomplish this we shall see that although The Matrix is considered to be a film about rebellion, it contains several stereotypical portrayals, which actually make it a film that supports the status quo. We shall also see that the African American characters in The Matrix (the Oracle, Tank, Dozer, and Morpheus) are all depicted in the stereotypical servant roles. Furthermore, the women (Trinity and Switch) in this film are portrayed stereotypically; that is, they are either reduced to a caring/nurturing role or they simply help make up the background (they
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A racial stereotype is defined as a simplistic, rigid and unfair generalization of a racial-ethnic identity. Thus the film achieves the opposite effect.

One such stereotype visible in the film is that of the Oracle. An oracle is one who gives wise or authoritative decisions or opinions, and in The Matrix she is portrayed by an African American. Despite her wisdom, she is still portrayed as a ‘mammy’ figure, or a servant. I say this because when we are introduced to the Oracle, she’s in a kitchen where she is baking cookies. In addition, the house looks very much like a nursery for white children. Also, the only other woman of color present in the whole film is the woman seen in the Oracle’s house, whose sole assignment seems to be to answer the door.

One may get the impression that I am simply ‘reaching’ for stereotypes in this film. However, the way in which the Wachowski brothers depict the Oracle seems to be a bit too familiar a pattern in films where black women are portrayed as servants to whites. Films such as Gone With the Wind (1939), Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) and Passion Fish (1992) have always offered progressive visions of white females, but black women are still in roles of servitude, and The Matrix continues to perpetuate this stereotype.

bell hooks argues: "Mass media consistently depict black folks either as servants or in subordinate roles, a placement which
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