'The Matrix' creator Lilly Wachowski refused to let Musk and Trump use her movie as a way to peddle a dangerous idea that would put millions at risk.
South African tech giant Elon Musk has in the recent past demanded that California, where his manufacturing companies SpaceX and Tesla are headquartered, loosen lockdown restrictions so he may resume business as usual in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. Despite criticism of his demands, he seems relentless. In his latest stunt to garner attention, he posted a tweet referencing cult science fiction film The Matrix. "Take the red pill," he wrote. In response, Ivanka Trump, United States President Donald Trump's favorite daughter and product of nepotism, tweeted, "Taken!" While the exchange seemed harmless enough, there was one person who had a serious problem with it: The Matrix creator and co-director Lana Wachowski - and for good reason.
In the film, the protagonist (Keanu Reeves' Neo) is presented with two pills, a blue pill and a red pill. While the blue pill makes those who consume it forget about the Matrix entirely, the red pill helps them learn the real truth about it. The term "redpilling" was born out of this scene and is now actively used by far-right-wing and neo-Nazi groups to further disseminate white supremacist ideologies. Traditionally, the phrase is utilized as a way to bring attention to "the truth" about the Jewish community (and other minority races) and how they are plotting to take over society from those currently in power - white folks.
Anyone shocked by a Silicon Valley leader adopting the language of the extremely online right has not been paying attention.— Moira Weigel (@moiragweigel) May 18, 2020
The implication of the tweet in this scenario, however, was to downplay the seriousness of the outbreak and urge folks to look beyond public health in order to reopen the economy. Trump, who acts as an official advisor to her father, joined in on the propagation. Needless to say, this is quite a dangerous narrative for anyone to peddle, let alone a White House advisor and one of the most influential entrepreneurs in the world.
You should be so incredibly ashamed of yourself. pic.twitter.com/4cKMcxq59P— 𝓐𝓶𝓮𝓵𝓲𝓪 🧜🏼♀️ (@m3rmaidmelia) May 18, 2020
Recognizing just how problematic the proliferation of this idea is, Wachowski stepped in to let the duo know that she did not appreciate her movie being co-opted and bastardized to suit a narrative that she not only did not agree with but one that also posed serious ills to the American people. She affirmed in a tweet, "F*ck both of you," before bravely sharing a follow-up post encouraging folks to donate to the Brave Space Alliance, an organization that supports trans and gender-nonconforming people in the Chicago area. Her tweet quickly went viral, attracting the attention of those on both sides of the political spectrum. Though several Twitter users praised her for stepping in, other trolls swooped in with ad hominem attacks about her gender identity.
Wachowski revealed her trans identity in March 2016, when she issued a statement to the Windy City Times. She made her first public appearance following her transition a few weeks later at the 27th GLAAD Media Awards. Her decision to fire back at Trump and Musk is perhaps a culmination of the years of gender violence she has had to confront as a direct result of Donald Trump's presidency as well as the toxic heteronormative culture that dominates science fiction, solicited by men like Musk. No matter why she decided to speak out, she made one thing clear: her movie will not be used to put other people's lives at risk.