Which Is Better Star Wars or Matrix Series?
By Greg Stewart
The other day I was listening to late night talk radio, when a subject came up, via a caller, the best science fiction movie or movie series ever—Star Wars or Matrix. As I listened, I thought of the differences between the two series, one being founded in humanity and the other being grounded in Christianity. Let me explain…
Although, Star Wars and Matrix have their own version of spirituality, they are primarily similar. This is what I mean, in 1977 a new era of mythology began, a way of storytelling, to encourage the youth of America to rescue a princess and save the day from a dark prince. It is a universal story, a young fatherless boy or girl goes in search of their future, only to find that the challenges before them are from within and their destiny is set along the path of lessons and epiphanies. In the case of Star Wars, it touched on the essences of human nature, both good and bad.
Thus, the setting of the Star Wars world is far into the future and seemingly magical and fantastic, which from the human perspective optimistic and filled with light. This is a projected world, a possible future to be divined, where humanity can obtain a fantastical modernity. This is the extensive view (Eller 2005) of humanity, where humanity heroes are foretold in the portended genre of science fiction. In other words, humanity’s savior of the crises is solved by the choices and the acceptance from within the heroes, instead of relying on an entity to rescue humanity from the outside.
In the Matrix, whose original concept was based on a combination of Japanese anime, with a mixture of science fiction and philosophy, and initially conceived as a comic book project (Andy and Larry Wachowski) set the course originality for a generation to conclude its ardor and illness for the end of the century malaise. As a result, the elements within the Matrix series setting, in principle, of humanity’s world view are intensive (Eller 2005).
Some of these intensive view’s features can be present tense, meaning the here and now, and it is generally expressed in the modernity of popular culture. However, within the last 25 years, some of these expressions, in the comic book world, have been relayed as post-modern, futuristic noir, or computer cyberpunk enabling the currents of culture to be extrapolated, examined, and reflected. In the terrain of these popular backdrops, humanity’ sins are shone as great; and, the heroes are failings are too great and too much for the human condition to solve.
Therefore, hero must either be perfect and invincible (think Superman) and rescue the planet citizens. Or, the hero is flawed, damaged emotionally by an event (think Batman, or Spiderman) and has to channel their angst and sense of responsibility to the greater good of the community. Thus, once again solving the tribulations of humanity and solving the problems of the human condition from the outside. In other words, a personal savior, who can “forgive” or “admonish” you through corrective measures to defeat whatever enemy or criminal; in order to bring forth a future utopia, at the least, for the “good people” and achieve their salvation.
In essence with movies such as Star Wars, the salvation from within the self is the message as well as the reflection of a universal mythology, which can be told over and over again—in a cyclical manner—within the human dynamic that all creeds, races, and cultures can identify equally with their own fables and stories. Whereas, admittedly, Matrix has its own mythology and universality, its dynamic; however, appeals to a restricted segment, grounded in, for the most part, western philosophy and Christianity and are eschatological; linear in nature.
This is what I mean, although cleverly devised in a cyclical presentation, movies such as the Matrix, have a devised end time. The hero is not only deemed to be perfect and performs miracles, but is also celebrated and anointed as the savior who will save humanity’s suffering from the outside evil force once and for all. Therefore, leading and leaving humanity to an epoch age of utopia.
On the other hand, Star Wars imparts that suffering can be conquered through the personal choices and resolved through the inner spirit of the human condition and does not require a personal savior to achieve one’s own personal bliss (Joseph Campbell). So, which was the best science fiction series for humanity? Both! In the end it is a matter of one’s perspective that ultimately chooses the vehicle that suits their own personal mythology—or narration.
I would like to acknowledge and thank Andy and Larry Wachowski, and George Lucas, without their inspiration, movies, and DVD’s featurettes there would not be this discourse. Furthermore, Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers’ book, “The Power of Myth” which aided my muse with clarity. And, finally Brian Penn and especially J. David Eller, for his inspiration and clarity of ideas and acknowledge culpability in the way of explanation of intensive and extensive examination of the human perspective. His mentoring and guidance along with insight has sparked many of my popular culture formulations regarding the vehicle of science fiction. As for Brian, my collaborator, my fellow conspirator, has helped with his own astute observations of popular movements.