Monday, August 4, 2008

Chauncey DeVega's World of Ghetto Nerds: So According to McCain, Obama is "The One?"--The Matrix Meets the 2008 Presidential Campaign



John McCain's campaign has unleashed a new anti-Obama campaign commercial. Unlike the previous commercial which skewered Obama as a celebrity a la Brittany Spears who is unprepared for the responsibility of being the President of the United States, this new commercial lampoons Obama as being "The One." As amateurish and truly desperate as these commercials are, they appear to be resonating among McCain's base and undecided voters. Is there a more biting indictment of the American electorate, and Conservatives in particular, than that these commercials appear to be slowing Obama's momentum? Again, as I am often fond of saying, we are indeed a society too sick to survive.

Generational divides frame the interpretation, enjoyment, and expression of popular culture. For McCain, "The One" is Moses of Ten Commandments fame. Random thought: if you are going to call a black man Moses, one should at least feature a historically correct depiction of biblical figures. If you can't give us a black Jesus, at least give us a brown Moses. Yes, I know that would too much to ask from McCain, but I would at least give him points for the effort. But again, he is of a generation which thinks that the Egyptians were white, and that Cleopatra looked like Elizabeth Taylor. Second random thought: Cleopatra was actually an inbred Greek and none too attractive--which makes me smile when I think of how Afrocentrists try to claim her--but she was a sexpot and innovator of sorts: Cleopatra devised her own vibrator which consisted of a jar filled with thousands of bees. She would shake this jar until it began to vibrate and well then...you get the idea.

Apparently, McCain doesn't get that "The One" for the hip hop, Generation X and Generation Y, and Myspace generation, is Neo from the Matrix:



Playing along with that idea, let's use our imaginations and cast our own version of the Matrix Trilogy meets the 2008 presidential campaign.

Some of these choices are tentative and your help is appreciated with filling out the cast. For now, I would cast this imagined movie as follows:

Obama is Neo. He is upsetting the system and is trying to free himself from the Matrix. Obama is also the key to a new future and a union between the artificial intelligence driven machine mainframe and the oppressed humans. Obama may usher in a post-racial future, but many humans and the machines are not prepared for this brave new world. Both need each other, but first Neo has to balance freedom for the human "copper tops" with the unpleasant realities of order, routine, power, and structure offered by the Matrix. Pointedly, Obama is the biracial Halfrican who identifies as Black, while Keanu is the Hapa, racially ambiguous action hero who starred in Point Break.

John McCain is Agent Smith. He is the antithesis of Obama. McCain represents stability, predictability, and familiarity. McCain may not liberate the masses, but perhaps they are more comfortable with how things are. The agents represent the whiteness of normalcy (my phrase), while Obama, and by extension Neo, Zion, and the remaining humans are a diverse, eclectic, and most importantly, emotionally engaged human collective. John McCain has also gone through many iterations as a politician. He began as a maverick who appealed to independents and challenged the religious Right in his party. Now, McCain has souled out in order to win the support of the Republican's right-wing. And they still don't embrace him. In thinking through the Matrix, this conversion to authority also fits with the subtle hints that Agent Smith may in fact be a previous incarnation of Neo, but one who chose humanity's salvation over love when faced with the Architect's challenge.

Karl Rove or Dick Cheney is The Architect. I am of two minds on this one. Perhaps, The Architect could be a composite of the two personalities. Both represent order. Both have thought through the meta-level game of how to maintain the Nixon turn/Reagan revolution/Gingrich Contract with America/Bush Regime. Rove and Cheney, like The Architect of the Matrix, set the rules of the game and watched it play out according to their predictions. Interestingly, they are omnipresent yet invisible. Like The Architect, they manipulate the rules of the game, yet are immune from being challenged or unseated because the game needs them:



Cheney is everywhere yet no where. Rove is everywhere yet no where. The Architect is everywhere yet no where. Who should be The Architect? Karl Rove or Dick Cheney? Is there a 3rd possibility I have overlooked?

Oprah is the Oracle. The Oracle guides Obama by offering motherly (or is it grandmotherly?) advice. She is the co-creator of the Matrix, an emotive program who figured out that humanity needs a savior in order to survive. The Oracle is self-interested and do not be mistaken, she is not a saint. Mirroring The Oracle, although she is intuitive and emotive, one cannot forget that Oprah is OF the system, however favorable her position in relation to humanity may appear to be. She is a billionaire (and she is a shill for books such as The Secret--how much more Oracle and Matrix inspired can one be?). Oprah, is also the emotional surrogate for millions upon millions of suburban housewives. As I jokingly tell people. "Oprah is a mammy, a safe Negress, an emotional surrogate for millions of white women." Oprah, at great personal cost, has helped to anoint Obama as the Chosen One. In a similar fashion, The Oracle, at great personal cost assisted Neo in his quest, only to lose her "face" and eventually her "life," at the hands of a deranged Agent Smith and The Merovingian.

Michelle Obama is Trinity. I did flirt with combining Trinity and Niobe, but I will let you convince me of the merits of that choice. Trinity and Neo are deeply in love. As Persephones says, "you can smell it on them." Obama and Michelle complement and support each other. They also push against each other, but also move forward towards their goal together. Obama and Michelle are working to make history...yes, an empty phrase as we all make history, but it is fitting here. Neo and Trinity are also making history by liberating humanity from the Matrix. An additional parallel of note: Trinity is hot headed, and a bit impulsive and impassioned. These character traits force Neo into a difficult but necessary choice where he chooses love over humanity precisely because Neo sees no contradiction between the two. It remains to be seen what choices, good choices we hope, that Michelle may, has, or will, force Obama into.

Keith Olbermann is Morpheus. Yes, I would have liked to find a brother who serves as Obama's mentor and guide, but the black men around Obama seem to have done more harm than good to his campaign. Consider, Olbermann has had Obama's back against the O'Reilly's, Limbaugh's, right-wing echo chamber hacks that have gone for Barack's throat. Olbermann has also been one of the few consistent voices to call to account the mainstream media, and how it has seemingly abandoned its responsibilities to check the growing, and bordering on unconstitutional, authority seized (and given to) the Bush regime by the public and Congress. In total, Olbermann has Cronkite like moments and has been indispensable to Obama's campaign. As a mirror, Morpheus is the guide, he who had faith in Obama and pushed him forward against the forces of the Matrix when Obama doubted himself.

Bill Clinton is The Merovingian. Bill Clinton was the first black president, but he proved himself to be more interested in power for power sake than in the public good. Bill Clinton did not behave as a responsible elder statesman should--even allowing for his marriage with Hillary. Instead, he threw aside the good will accrued to him by the American people, and Black Americans in particular, in order to steal a few more moments of power and the public spotlight:



The Merovingian is one of the oldest programs. He deeply and intimately understands the Matrix, its contours and tides, its ebbs and flows, the force of its currents. Like Agent Smith, I also suggest that The Merovingian could perhaps be a former Chosen One, a previous iteration of Neo, who like Smith, chose order and power over liberation and freedom. To boot, Clinton and The Merovingian also share a weakness for women and oral sex. Both are also fashionistas who are vulnerable to their physical and hedonistic indulgences--the force of the passions--rather than having their libidos subsumed by their sense of reason.

Hillary Clinton is Persephones. Again, this was a hard choice because she craves power and is part of the system in a manner akin to Agent Smith. I am open to your suggestions on this point. In favor of this pairing is her relationship to the Merovingian and a marriage based on power and utility rather than love. Hillary, and her lapdog Geraldine Ferraro's attacks on Obama, and Michelle by extension, speak to the rivalry between the two women. Here, two scenes speak particularly well to the pairing of Hillary as Persephones, and Michelle as Trinity. First, the confrontation over dinner when Trinity makes it clear to the Merovingian that he best know his place. Second, the bathroom scene when Persephones wants to know love because she hasn't felt truly desired in so long. Can you imagine Hillary telling her friends how the passion between her and Bill is long dead? Or in a moment of spite, Hillary destroying Bill's prized possessions to make a point that he needs to mind the boundaries of their relationship, i.e. do what you want, but don't embarrass me in public. Yes, as I write this it becomes clear that Hillary is indeed Persephones. Am I right or wrong?

Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh are The Ghost Twins. Yes, they are not "twins." Yes, there is a rivalry between the two. However, they are lockstep ideologically. This parallels how the twins serve power through a deep, self-interested loyalty to The Merovingian and the system. Just as the twins attack Morpheus at the command of their master, the unholy two also (and my gut tells me the following is true) hate Ken Olbermann. I mean they really, really hate him--and it isn't a facade or show for the camera or mic. Your thoughts? A good match? Or should the twins be a different pair selected from the right-wing media apparatus?

Cornel West is Cornel West. He is magical, He is impenetrable. He is a genius. He has simultaneously futuristic, yet anachronistic, W.E.B. DuBois and Frederick Douglas inspired hair. He looks like a science fiction character come to life. He is other worldly. Cornel West is equally at home in "the real world," as he is in the Matrix films.

Reverend Wright is Cypher. Reverend Wright is the mentor and adviser to Obama who later betrayed him. Yes, betrayed him. Reverend Wright in his own desire for 30 seconds of fame, for some petty acknowledgment of his role in Obama's life, almost derailed Obama's campaign. Jealousy, a little hate for his young protege's rise to national prominence so quickly pushed the good reverend to a set of public performances that were nonetheless expected, yet were still still shocking. Cypher was jealous of Obama. He wanted to be proven correct: Neo was not the chosen one. Morpheus was a fraud and a liar. Given how horrible, how unbearable this new future (and present reality) proved to be, the illusion of the Matrix was preferable. Likewise, for Reverend Wright, the new future hinted at by the political realignment (or deviation?) signaled by Obama's rise threatened to make the "real world" intolerable. For Cypher, fiction, the illusion was better than the reality.

Jesse Jackson is General Jason Lock. Shakedown Jesse wants to cut off Obama's nuts. The reconfiguring of the political landscape is frightening because Jackson is threatened with obsolescence. General Lock is threatened by Morpheus' plan, he finds it risky, unnecessary, and unduly perilous for the remaining humans. He is a great leader. But, this is a time for risks and for new directions. General Lock cannot accept this new direction because by virtue of his very nature Lock is measured and conservative. Lock is fighting the last battle--like many generals, the last war looms large in their thinking, rather than the one we are fighting in the present (see the early years of Iraq War 2). A thought, given the General's history with Niobe, his real love for her, is this love somehow paralleled by Jesse and Michelle? Given his noted appetites and indiscretions, does Jesse Jackson want Michelle? Hmmmm.....something to consider.

What other characters should we include in the McCain-Obama meets the Matrix film? Who should be recast?

7 comments:

Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

he digging deep into the gop attack machine

Anonymous said...

I love this blog!!! This was really good, very creative, and intriguing; if you could actually somehow put this description on film, you would be an extraordinaire, lol!!

Lady Zora, Chauncey DeVega, and Gordon Gartrelle said...

Thanks for the complement mr. or mrs. anonymous. Maybe if I hit powerball we will make the spoof or an online cartoon. Are there any other characters we should include? and please share this blog with your friends as the more the merrier.

best,

chauncey devega

said...

This is anonymous (from last night) again, and I've been thinking about additional characters and I got an idea for a new character; what about Colin Powell?

I'm not Matrix savvy, lol, but it seems like he could be a character who at first supported The Matrix but then later on quietly revolts against it... ?

chaunceydevega said...

Colin Powell? Maybe he could one of the generals of the resistance? or the leader of the council who in conversation with Neo about the machines which work with humans, i.e. the power plant and water recyclers that man and machine can live together and that this cycle has all happened before?

He would be the wise sage.

Cd

elle said...

This is a very cool and imaginative article, and so applicatible to the current political regime, except for one thing:Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin just would make better Ghost Twins and you know it. When I think of evil cybernetic assasins out to get the chosen one, these two hags come to mind.

Lady Zora, Chauncey DeVega, and Gordon Gartrelle said...

They do seem like programs from an earlier iteration of the Matrix who the Merovingian would like to keep around don't they????

Good one!