Matrix and transidentity: what are the expectations for the sequel to the cult trilogy?

On the occasion of the release of Matrix Resurrections, the first blockbuster of this stature to be directed by a trans woman, AlloCiné spoke with Gab Harrivelle of the Representrans association to shed light on some of the film’s challenges.

Matrix and transidentity: what are the expectations for the sequel to the cult trilogy?
2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Village Roadshow Films (BVI) Limited

AlloCiné: With the release of Matrix 4, this will be a first for a blockbuster with a very general public aim produced by a trans woman (in this case Lana Wachowski, Lily Wachowski not being part of this project). Why is this an important moment for you in terms of representation of the trans community?

Gab Harrivelle, co-founder of Representrans, LGBTQ + Creation Consultant (iel): It’s an important moment because it’s a blockbuster that comes out after the artist’s trans coming out. It’s a highly anticipated film, with a universe that has had a big impact on popular culture. It is a moment that will have an impact, in addition to the trans subtext that we now know, but also through its media coverage. We will talk about Lana wachowski for his work, and not through the prism of his transidentity. We’re not going to tell about her transition or coming out, we’re going to talk about her as an artist.

Matrix: the trans metaphor of the film confirmed by Lilly Wachowski

Do you have the feeling that the film is particularly anticipated? In particular, we know that the trilogy had a subtext on transidentity. Will you be particularly attentive to how the distributor Warner will communicate on the film? Are there particular things that you will focus your attention on?

Anyone familiar with the trans subtext will be keen to see Matrix 4. It’s going to be even more interesting to watch the subtext now that the director has been out for a few years and it’s “behind her.” Personally, I expect to see the film for what it is and not particularly for the subtext.

But I know this subtext is expected, it resonated with a lot of trans people. When the Matrix Resurrections trailer came out, there were a lot of memes on social media, especially from trans women.

The original trilogy was seen by people who have since been trans coming out and transitioning. The memes are based on the fact that at the time, the photos of the screenings showed a predominantly “male” audience. At the end of the 4th, the public will perhaps be predominantly female. These people who have found themselves in this trans subtext are particularly waiting for this 4th part.

Do you expect Warner to do some work to update the first three Matrixes? In terms of marketing (DVD, posters) or even in terms of the credits of the film? If the movie (s) are shown on TV again, would you wait until the credits are changed? Could adding a pre-generic cardboard be a solution if not?

Will they rework the credits of the former? What will they do ? There’s going to be some attention to that (Editor’s note, the first film of the original trilogy is broadcast tonight on TF1). Knowing that this is not a case that will happen again many times either.

We had the case in France with Ocean. We have the case with Elliot Page who made films before his coming out and since. The most important thing is that the will of the artist is respected. I don’t know what Lana wants, but if she wanted everything to be changed, I hope her wishes will be respected. If she wishes to leave it as is, I hope it will be respected by Warner and trans people alike, while also emphasizing that this is her wish.

In general, what people say to cisgender people is as soon as you know the first name of a trans person, you forget and you no longer use their first name at birth. This is the general rule for all trans people. But there are trans people who have no problem with their first name at birth. You have to call this person by their current first name, but they don’t mind seeing their first name elsewhere, for example in the credits of the works.

Warner will not be able to touch the existing DVDs or boxes, but I hope they will take into account the wishes of the Wachowskis. And that thereafter, distributors and producers respect the wishes of these artists in general.

Compared to TV broadcasting, it would be logical for the channels to broadcast new versions of the film if there were any changes. If they could not retouch the film, a pre-generic card specifying that, why not. Personally, I am not a fan of the pre-generic cardboard. It emphasizes something that is not necessarily the heart of the work. The most logical would be to modify the credits.

After on the Internet, it’s impossible to change everything. This is something that unfortunately has to be accepted when you’re a trans artist and there was one before coming out.

Your association is also attentive to media treatment. What do you expect from the media around the release of Matrix 4? What advice would you like to give to the media?

Regarding the media, whether generalist or specialized in cinema or LGBTI + themes, it is best not to talk about this transition anymore because it is no longer a recent coming out. AJL, the association of LGBTI journalists in France, produced a very complete guide on these subjects.

There is no point in talking about Lana’s transition again, except if it’s in the text of the film itself or to go deeper into the subtext. Simply to highlight that we have a blockbuster made by a trans woman. Today, she presents her work, we must talk about this work. My recommendation is therefore to talk about the film.

Before the release of Matrix 4, there was the broadcast of the TV movie Il est elle on TF1, and the release last November of A good man. How do you receive these news? Do you feel a real impact on the audience when films or TV films on transidentity come out?

This is the whole raison d’être of Representrans, it is that stories are told. Because stories have impacts. The documentary Disclosure on Netflix gave one statistic: 80% of Americans do not know a trans person. A statistic that would be similar in France.

If they do not know about it in those around them, at work, the first window on transidentity that these people will have is television or the cinema. So it’s important to talk about transidentity, to talk about it well, because that can have serious impacts. The documentary Disclosure speaks about it at length. If we are all made of jokes, victims, serial killers, etc., that means that tomorrow when a person comes out trans to a cisgender person, the cisgender person having in mind all these films, like The Silence of the lambs, for example, she only has negative things in mind.

There is a vicious circle: the violence present in the fictions is repeated in reality. Trans women therefore experience significant visibility, which is mostly negative. For trans men, being invisible in series and movies (until recently anyway), this leads to suicides, because they do not see an echo of their feelings elsewhere. We all need role models. The consequences on our lives are direct.

Another example, when Plus Belle La Vie recounts the coming out of a trans boy, thousands of viewers are touched. The result: coming out made easier for parents and grandparents because they had a positive example in which to project themselves.

Having a TV movie like Il est elle on TF1 which touches several million people is very important. Even though there may be some clumsiness, it is important. It deals in particular with puberty blockers, demonized by certain transphobic groups, but these blockers have been used for years on cis children who have puberty who arrive too early.

These films make it possible to educate on these subjects, sometimes through scriptwriting devices that are a little easy but which make it possible to reach a lot of people at once.

For A Good Man, it comes at a time when there was a vote in the bioethics law that knowingly, and not out of ignorance, excluded trans people from that law. A Good Man intervenes after that and shows a trans man carrying his child. These are things that happen in reality but are not visible to the general public. It is very important that there is a general public dissemination of these stories.

These are stories that have not been offered before when that’s how we change things. Encourage understanding, not rejection. Educate, raise awareness, showcase realities that you cannot see elsewhere.

A series like Modern Family and its Gay Marriage Episode has helped change American public opinion. Seeing and understanding experiences, it allows you to no longer be ignorant. Without this being pejorative, we cannot know everything. Moreover, a single film will not answer all the problems of representations.

For other trans representations, the documentary Disclosure serves as a benchmark today, even though it is quite focused on the United States. In France, we can recommend XY Media’s videos which approach subjects from a different angle from that of other media, the angle of the people concerned.

Interview in November 2021, by Brigitte Baronnet, on Zoom.

The Representrans association, created in September 2020, works for a better representation of transgender and non-binary people. To learn more about the association : https://representrans.fr/

As a reminder, the Matrix 4 pitch is presented as follows: MATRIX RESURRECTIONS plunges us back into two parallel realities – that of our daily life and that of the world hidden there. To know for sure whether his own reality is a physical or a mental construct, and to truly know himself, Mr. Anderson will have to follow the White Rabbit again. And if Thomas … Neo … has learned anything, it is that such a decision, although illusory, is the only way to get out of the Matrix – or to enter it … Of course. , Neo already knows what remains for him to do. What he does not know, however, is that the Matrix is ​​more powerful, more secure and more formidable than ever. Like an air of deja vu …

The trailer for the film is showing this Wednesday:

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