#they don’t know the matrix is a trans metaphor...
Lake’s trans narration in Infinity Train
Lake’s story in infinity train is clearly signifying their journey as a trans person and coming into their own identity, and it resonated in a way with me (a non-binary person) that I’ve never seen in mainstream media. Their entire arc is about them discovering their own identity, not knowing how to find a name or who they wanted to be and trying to convince this entire system built around them, one built to constrict them that they are real and alive- it is absolutely no coincidence that this season heavily references the Matrix, a sci fi piece of media about reality, identity, and transness made by two trans women.
There’s a reason the names: “Chrome girl, mirror girl, mirror tulip, sliver” are leveled against Lake, against their will, and Constantly reference either Lake’s perceived gender or their perceived “aberration”
kinda like the suits in the matrix using neo’s “professional”, non hacker name “mister anderson” against him.
Tulip is obviously her own person with her own identity outside of this season, but in Lake’s journey, tulip is the girl she was Supposed to be, the entire amalgamation of who everyone expected Lake to be and essentially a personification of their “birth” identity and deadname.
The problem isn’t Lake! it is the entire system built around what It’s idea of a “person” is, designed specifically to exclude denizens like Lake because they were never considered in the creation of the system!!
To reference the good place- Lake is the janet of infinity train, an entity designed to “help people along their journey” in this world outside of their own attrition, and ends up growing into their own identity! “I’m not a girl I’m not a robot. i’m not just a janet anymore! i don’t know what i am!”
I’m finally choosing their name, Lake takes the body of water that’s used to reflect themself, that the flecs have used for their whole individual LIFE to hunt them down and try to kill them, and reclaims that which was once used to hurt them and defining themself by overcoming it! the use of a reflective surface as a piece of their identity that they are reclaiming!!
Lake spends their whole existence in the season defining themself by the things they are not: not mirror tulip, not chrome girl, not a sliver, not just a reflection- and in the 8th episode we finally see them able to define themself with what they Are, leading to the emotional climax of “I am a real person! I deserve a number too!” a cry that directly mirrors the conflicts of so many trans people, who are wanting to be seen as a person, not wanting to be defined by what they aren’t and who they can never be (as lake’s “prime”, tulip, is for them)
The use of binary code in the “passenger farm” - (the metaphor of lake being unrecognizable by this system!) (especially a binary computer code) one-one’s obsession with math and numbers, the way Jesse’s problem leads to his number being non-integers, unsolvable by the train’s coding, getting stuck in a logic loop- Lake defies everything that the train’s system runs on, and everybody believes the problem lies within Lake wanting to be different, when it is actually the systematic issues around them that humans can be defined by their number. They end up being able to manipulate the system that is the train! like neo in the matrix
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so. about ‘true form starscream’
I know a lot of people really don’t like it, and I do see why. the allegory/coding stuff kind of went a little off the rails and I'm no MScott defender. the trans/race metaphor blender thing was weird and off putting. despite this, I can't help but find Your First Mistake to be kind of compelling and I'd like to explore why and my thoughts on the matter under the cut.
most of the criticism levied at this and subsequent issues is that seeing what he would look like if he was forged pushed starscream farther into ethical behavior—and doesn’t that prove that anti cold constructed sentiment is right and at least somewhat based in truth? eh, I don’t think so. because even if that frame is what his spark would have made if it could shape a protoform itself, although I’m not convinced it is, it’s still not what he would look like if he was forged.
if you pulled a reverse Megatron on Starscream, if you plucked his spark out of a factory and planted it in a hotspot, that’s still not a ‘natural’ spark. he would still have been affected by the killswitch. do you know what changes? he doesn’t have dysphoria. he isn’t discriminated against, because people wouldn’t know. that’s it. that’s not a body that’s shaped by Primus (unless you count the spark coming from the Matrix.) it’s just him. there is no ‘forged Starscream’, unless Cybertron in some offshoot timeline managed to muster up an identical spark.
and why do people assume that’s what he would have looked like in that scenario, anyways? the ‘true form’ is a body reflecting Starscream’s spark after countless years of war, after knowing so many different people—never touched by Primus, but apparently touched by Wheeljack, Bumblebee, Skyfire, Soundwave, Ravage. (metaphorically.) it’s probably at least a little different than the above scenario, where his spark was only touched, truly touched, by himself and the matrix. it’s in the image of who he is now. don’t you think, in a species with mods and frame changes, that even forged bots who mostly like their bodies might change some things along the way? that during their long, long lives, their sparks, their very selves, are touched so deeply that they might want to alter parts to make themselves more at home. I think they probably do.
Windblade isn’t making anything by adding, she’s making something new by subtracting. she says, “is that what you were truly seeking, Starscream? escape from a foreign skin? the belonging you thought was lost forever?
“did you forget it was here all along?”
see, like I said, Windblade isn’t somehow channeling the power of Primus to transform Starscream into what he would be like if made by him. she’s just helping him molt.
so, why is it that he’s able to ‘molt’ whatever’s been holding him down? why is he able to realize the body that’s apparently been touched by all these people only now? he designed his recent frames, right? Windblade said he always had this belonging, buried. what buried it? why couldn’t he visualize the right one?
I think it’s because the ‘slag’ that fell away is the lie, the really big lie, that Starscream had been telling himself for a long time—his isolation. apparently his previous attempts at interpersonal connection had been cut off by Megatron, who literally ‘beat it into him’ that he had nobody, or maybe he felt like he couldn’t trust anybody because nobody stood up for him when he was being mistreated, and even if objectively that’s reasonable (I mean god look at Megatron) it still had to sting. either way, no matter how it felt or feels, Starscream has never really been alone. you’d think that Megatron would be among the ghosts, right? literally Elita One is there. Optimus Prime. Shockwave. it’s ‘every ally’ but also ‘every enemy’. except Starscream never doubted that Megtaron affected him, did he? what allowed Starscream to take his truest form when he never could before was Windblade showing him that he’d been touched by so many others, loved and hated both. Starscream had been viewing himself through the lens of a single relationship, and an awful one at that, that he backed his own self image into a dark, miserable corner. when Windblade took away this lie, he could visualize himself in a way that accurately reflected his spark, changed by so many other people as it was.
Starscream becomes a better person because a) he was already heading that way and b) he was, with help, finally able to pull himself out of an awful, stifling self image narrative intentionally or unintentionally instilled by a violent, cruel abuser. I think it's just part of his path to healing. I think it's sweet.
it’s not what he would have looked like if he were forged. it’s so much more than that, to me. and I’m, well, kind of enamored with that.
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Cishet society teaches you unequivocally that cisgender, and straight is the DEFAULT. Every person, every story, every song, every novel, every film is “normal” and made especially for cis straight people to relate to, and enjoy. The burden of proof is entirely on marginalized people to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that something they love was made by someone gay/trans/person of colour/disabled person/so on AND that the narrative of their beloved property is so far away from cishet polite society that the only conclusion left is that it wasn’t made with them in mind. Especially when art is made, put out into the world, and much later is the artist revealed to be something other than “the norm”. Even then, most people will never believe that the thing they love was an allegory for something they could never understand.
This enables the most selfish, sheltered, and entitled people who can never accept that something is real or valid if they’ve never experienced it. Everything was made for them. The Matrix (made by a pair of incredible trans sisters) has always been a trans story for anyone with the lived experience to see the details only they know. Some people after all these years still believe this is a story made for incels, or men’s rights, or a metaphor for realizing that Jews secretly rule the world. Many more level headed cishets will still never believe this story is uniquely trans. The love story about a relationship so secret it is life and death, is made for straight couples who weren’t allowed to date until they were 16. The story about love being impossible because you’re so terrified of the consequences, that’s for the straight people who fall in love with someone who doesn’t like them back. Stories about discrimination and oppression are relatable to people who’s biggest concern is their annoying coworker or an in-law they don’t like. Neurodivergent characters are actually just normal people who are a little awkward and quirky.
You are straight and cis unless proven otherwise (actually no you’re still straight and you’ll come to your senses but could you stop talking about it that’s making me uncomfortable)
The amount of small towns you could go to and ask if any random stranger knows a trans person or what life might be like for someone in the closet and they wouldn’t have any real idea. You ask a queer person, or someone with disabilities, or a person of colour, if they understand the range of life experiences certain groups have in society, pretty much all of them would have a good answer. We’re all shoved through the conveyor belt, taught by our peers who made mistakes, how to act when you want to get through the day in peace. Taught how to silence ourselves, the most convincing lies we can tell if someone senses our difference and gets aggressive. Taught how to suppress every “uncomfortable” characteristic, how to make sure our stories are “marketable”, how to craft a persona that society will accept without too many questions, how to speak to each other in code for our own safety. We listen to every word, watch the way you move through life, always trying to figure out how much we need to be worried should you ever learn our truth.
Every characteristic of “normal life” is drilled into our head at every turn and yet, no one believes a trans woman that the song you like has trans themes. No one believes queer people that the movie is really relatable to their experience. No one believes that a character from a show they like is autistic. People who neatly fit into the status quo don’t believe we could possibly recognize our lived experience when we see it, because they so fundamentally misunderstand the way the world works for people who aren’t like them.
And then, we’re interrupted in our self made spaces and told we’re being exclusionary. We create our own movies, songs, books, games, and we’re told that those belong to them anyway. Our lives are a “slippery slope” and a debate. Existing, loving, struggling, grieving, without straight/white/cis/able bodied people will never be real unless they say so.
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sorry my shower took so long I ended up sitting down in the bathtub and thinking about the matrix and how I watched it with my parents in the house and I was thinking how they don’t see all the trans metaphors and they don’t even know I’m not “done being genderfluid” like I’ve convinced them I’m just back in the closet and their son died for their blissful ignorance kinda like how Neo died so the matrix could be peaceful and unaware that it’s a simulation and anyway what if Neo is alive and hiding in plain sight like I am and only people he trusts would know that
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Death of the author
CW: Light discussion of politics, mentions of the Alt-Right, and White Supremacists.
Consider this a “Change of Pace” entry. I’m trying to figure out what the next essay is to be about as well as the eventual long term for this blog.
I wrote this essay back in mid 2019, long before the idea of this blog would come to mind, it’s been lightly edited prior to posting and added to. and I think this essay shows some of my influences much more heavily than my other writings.
What does My Little Pony and The Matrix have in common? Death of the Author.
Death of the Author is not to be confused with “Separating the Artist from the Art,” a self explanatory concept to distance a work from a creator who’s beliefs are more than a little unpleasant, easiest example is acknowledging that, yes, H.P. Lovecraft was a Mega-racist, however, his contributions to the horror genre have created a base that is nearly ubiquitous with the genre to this day, like wise with Orson Scott Card. this concept in itself is an especially controversial subject, but is not the focus of this piece.
Death of the Author is what allowed The Matrix, a movie with a collection of metaphors about being an lgbt person, and an activist for the rights of yourself and your allies to be grossly misinterpreted as a way to justify being a bigot, the most egregious misinterpretation being that of “The Red Pill Scene.”
In the context of the film, The Red Pill Scene is the part of the traditional heroes story where the hero “accepts the call”, Neo is quite literally making the choice to leave the safe world he’s been living in behind and embark on his adventure that will result in a death and rebirth into being The One who will save humanity. In the now very much understood to be the direct metaphor, it’s a scene in which Neo, the stand-in for a lgbt person, specifically a trans person, is being told by a much older lgbt person “You are trans, you have the choice to embrace it, but regardless of what choice you make from here on out the road ahead is going to be bumpy and rough on you, because the system around you is designed to make sure people like us aren’t able to prosper, and if you join us, you won’t be able to opt out.”
That is the very understood metaphor that most people accept with the modern understanding after The Wachowski’s came out as Lily and Lana in the “post-matrix trilogy” reality of the real world.
However due to the Moral Neutrality of Death of the Author in other circles the Red Pill(and all the other metaphors in the film) takes on an alternative meaning. And I can be “polite” in my explaing the bad take on how this scene plays out, but just to hammer the point home we’ll get dirty so you can know where the take is coming from, The Red Pill Scene for White supremeacists, and The alt-right (but I repeat myself) is such. Neo, a disgruntled white person is being told that the world is controlled by soulless machines. Jews, people of color, etx. Everyone around him is mind controlled and can and will attempt to stop him from saving the people smart enough to also realise they’re being held captive by non-whites and save them all. This of course, all being told to him by Morpheus, a black man. So have fun working your head around that.
This of course the most extreme example being the most ubiquitous, poke around on chan sites and sooner or later you’ll see the phrase “red pill” having been memetically adjusted to mean “hey tell me about this thing” or even more specifically “I already had an opinion about this but either way I want you to confirm my choice.” But I digress.
These two interpretations are so wildly on the opposite ends of the spectrum that the only commonalities between them is “You will likely need to be violent at some point”
I’m naturally only covering the two interpretations, the matrix itself has been picked apart by an untold number of people and people interpret it in as many ways as possible in terms of philosophical meaning. That is the nature of Death of The Author.
Death of the Author also covers in a round-a-bout fashion, selective canon, a subjective acknowledgement of canon elements throughout a long lived franchise- see; Star Wars, Star Trek, the belief that there was never any sequels to The Matrix. This variant of the philosophy allows one to be able to continue interactions with a text, specifically a text that consists of multiple volumes (or contributions, each one made by an individual author) but also deny interactions with parts that they personally dislike.
More often than not, you can attribute the death of the author to a bad take in a case of fiction, another primary example being Fight Club, often missed for the scathing critique of unhealthy male behaviour and propped up as some sort of moral guideline for how to live your life. Which is again, not to say this is the fault of Death of The Author as a philosophy, it is morally neutral, these bad takes can more often be attribued to the simple fact that unless directly stating it most attempts at satire or parody will have a contingent of people who agree with what is said, not what is meant, and death of the author unfortunately does make that..very easy, for good, or ill.
Where does My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fit in with all this? Well there are certainly alt-right members of the brony fandom who are painfully missing the point, but we’ve already dwelled on the negative enough, so let’s get happy.
In Episode 1 of Season 1, the first part of a two part pilot, in the background of a shot during a party scene; a pony with a grey coat and blonde mane and tail is seen in the background. This particular pony stood out the most amongst other background characters due to a mistake caused by the animation staff. According to the supervising director at the time, this particular error was spotted after hasbro greenlit the episode for air, and because it amused him he chose not to order a correction so it was left in as a nice little easter egg.
The nameless background pony would eventually be caught by 4chan among other places and very rapidly developed a following of fans and given a nickname, Derpy Hooves. This particular following and new nickname would echo back to shows staff becoming the name internally referred to by the show’s staff.
Friendship is magic creator Lauren Faust, who also enjoyed the popularity of the character when asked in an interview would state that a character named Ditzy Doo existed in an unaired episode, that would be implied to be this particular background pony, So naturally now depending on the fan this particular character would be reffered to as either Derpy Hooves, or Ditzy Doo.
Ditzy Doo would go on to become a recurring easter egg with in the show, something similar to that of “where’s waldo” but with horses. This practice would continue until episode 14 of season 2 where the character would have a set of spoken lines and would be addressed by name. This however resulted in a degree of controversy in which some people expressed concern that the presentation of the character was an offensive attempt at portraying people with mental or physical disabilities. This event resulted in the episode being altered in future airings and the character disappearing from the show for the vast majority of Season 3. Beyond Season 3 the character would continue to appear until season 5 where they would finally have a voiced role in the 100th episode of the show, and then eventually having another speaking role in the christmas special “The best gift ever.” It is also worth noting that Hasbro never gave her an “official name” with almost all of Ditzy’s merchandise either having no name present, or more often than not a singular image of a muffin in place of a name, even going so far as to have “Muffins” be the credited name she was given in all voiced instances of the show.
Muffins, Ditzy Doo, or Derpy Hooves isn’t the only case of background characters growing a large following of fans with in the show; a variety of characters have been swept up by the fans, given names and personalities built entirely out of bit gags. Lyra, Bon Bon, Vinyl Scratch, Octavia Melody, and who knows how many more have all been seen in background moments which would be built on by fans and then echo back into the staff to be integrated into the show further. One would say this is fanon but at the end of the day, the writers and show staff had very little more intent with the characters beyond “does this background character look good?” and “Does this bit part character stand out enough to automatically be recognizable for the bit they need to be doing” it is still what I believe to be an example of Death of The Author, an act of choosing to ignore the intended meaning,and giving what amounts to window dressings a full life as fleshed out characters in fan content and in small instances of the show; an interpretation separate from the writers original intent.
Now the question is does someone need to actively defy the author to participate in The Death There-of? No. I don’t believe so. In much the same fashion no one need actually be a clan member to inadvertently say or do something that's passive aggressively racist(yes a bit of an extreme, I know) one need not actively defy the author, merely ascribe to an alternate interpretation of a work of fiction. Refer to Fight Club, the film does everything it can with out directly stating “most of the people in Fight Club and later Project Mayhem are bad people, because they were already doing the things Tyler Durden was ascribing to” and almost unilaterally all the bad takes are built around this idea that they’ve achieved the perfect ideal masculine because they’re the “living in the moment, violent psychopath” nihilist the movie is actively condemning.
The simple fact is that death of the author ultimately, in a grand scale amounts to this; did a writers intent show through hard enough for their intent to be heard? And Subjectively, how much does a person believe in the meaning that they, or the writer themself have imparted into the story?
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Transphobes aren’t allowed to like or refer to The Matrix, fucking idiots don’t even know who the directors are, no man, you can’t say red pill or blue pill when referring to your facist propaganda that’s literally a metaphor for being trans.
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you know that neither of the wachowki bros is really trans, right? they're just a couple of pervs who took their sissy fetish too far and are actually mocking the whole trans community
sorry i don’t know who the “wachowski brothers” are. did you mean the wachowski sisters? they’re the women who wrote the matrix, you know, that super cool sci-fi movie that was a metaphor for being trans?
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OK I know I'm horrendously ignorant about these things but what exactly is meant by 'red pilling' in that Laci Green post you reblogged? Am I right in thinking it's a reference to The Matrix?
nah don’t worry, it’s unfortunately like... armpit-of-the-internet jargon that never should have come to light in popular terminology, except this is the darkest timeline so. it has. and now we all must suffer. yep, it’s a reference to the red-pill-blue-pill scene in the matrix, except now it’s also an mra/anti-sjw dogwhistle, wherein instead of waking up from a virtual reality prison in which your unwitting (biological) labor makes it possible for a ruling class of beings with next-to-zero empathy to keep a system of subjugation in place in a liberation narrative produced by two closeted trans women, “red pilling” as used by people on the internet mostly means coming to the realization that y’know, actually, despite literally every shred of evidence to the contrary, women DO have power over men on a structural level and feminists are only so vocal about the problems the patriarchy produces because they “wish they were hot enough to be rape-able”
kinda bullshit that they stole the metaphor tbh
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Rewatching “The Matrix.”
So this is maybe a basic lefty 101 take, but here goes. I haven’t seen this movie since becoming a leftist. When I’ve thought of it since swallowing the breadpill, I’ve thought, yeah, it’s a metaphor for capitalism, cool.
But these motherfucking sisters went hard on the leftist subtext.
Like, 90% of what Morpheus says when he’s monologuing works as a clean, direct metaphor for the spirit of humanity under capitalism. He talks about the methods that advertisers and the media keep us dreaming the capitalist dream. “Control: The Matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to keep us under control in order to change a human being into this [a battery].”
He talks about the malaise of workers under capitalism, the way every corner of our lives is tainted with consumerism, pro-capitalist social norms and the drive to acquire social capital. “What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. [...] You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work. When you go to church. When you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth [that] you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage.”
Like, how many leftists have talked about how much they resent “the redpill” coming to be associated with incels and r*pe artists? Because it was literally our term first. Two leftist trans women made a film about waking up to capitalist reality, and that was the metaphor they invented for it. Taking the redpill should be lefty slang, not bitter entitled horseshit about women being inherently promiscuous. We shouldn’t have to use that adulterated version I mentioned earlier, “breadpill.”
(And let me say, a lot of you motherfuckers are taking the blue pill right now by giving in to political nihilism and pessimism.)
And really, I wonder how Warner Brothers signed off on this movie. It’s literally a big-budget lefty art-film/action flick hybrid with a difficult concept that’s hella anti-big media, hella anti-cap, extremely anti-government and pretty... like... viscerally unpleasant. Like, I don’t believe that anyone likes this movie, as much as we lefties love it. Every shot is visually oppressive. Why would a giant media corporation approve something that accuses them so eloquently as “the Matrix?” Why have they approved a fourth one? I’m glad they did, but gods, what fools these billionaires be.
I’m not here to tell you “To be frank you have to have a high IQ to understand the Matrix. The themes are extremely subtle and without a solid grasp of Kropotkin most of them will go over the average viewer’s head” Look, some people don’t get it. Even a lot of leftists don’t immediately pick up what the Wachowskis were laying down. But you know now, and if this movie, where you can put yourself in the role of the chosen one and imagine being able to fight the system directly, gives you some hope or takes you away from our bleak current situation, you are welcome to this insight. It is our lefty heritage. Like many of the good things we have, queer women brought it to us.
On, like, a much lighter note, this movie is the reason I ever found out about Baudrillard, which led eventually to me saying “holy fucking shit” in public in a Which Wich when I heard that Lorde song where, at like seventeen or eighteen, she referenced Baudrillard--in a fucking pop song. Sure, she had a cowriter, but still!
‘Let’s make believe it’s hyperreal.”