switch

Switch is a character in The Matrix that was originally written to gender swap between the real world and The Matrix: Warner Brothers mistakenly nixed this idea, choosing to portray this character as androgynous to pay homage to that concept of gender-bending. It was recently reported that Lily Wachowski confirmed a fan theory is that Switch was, in Lily’s words, a “trans-metaphor” into their (Lily and her sister Lana) struggles with gender identity.

We can reasonably infer why Warner Brothers ruined this clever idea of Switch’s “residual self-image,“a phrase expressed in the film that helps establish its cyberpunk creditial. Either WB themselves did not like the idea of Switch having a residual self-image that is the opposite sex or they thought that the audience would be intolerant of this same idea is still essentially transphobic. Keeping the original concept of Switch was an opporunity missed; to be more inclusive of the transgender community, presenting them in a normalized way. It also blocked avenues for creativity to stay more original throughout the movie production process. You can say the true Switch was “cancelled,” but for less than ethical reasons.

Identity-control is the crux of identity politics. Reasonable, sensible, likable or not, a particular identity should be in control of the person who possesses and embodies it. Think of hate speech in general, the misinformation and disinformation about racial and sexual minorities,women, and gender minorities. There are political reasons why stereotypes and stigmas are consistently promoted and enforced, even decades after those stereotypes and stigmas are proven wrong. It’s about control and don’t think people in power are unaware of the influence they possess in shaping social perception. The ability to control one’s identity is pivotal to self-determination.

Transgender and androgynous characters are still rare and often obscured in pop culture. I find Switch a refreshing archytpe of how adrogynous characters could be portrayed: fashionable, likeable, and bad-ass.

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cixin lui

Successful writer Cixin Liu presents a new idea into science fiction called the Dark Forest Theory. By analogy, hunters in a dark forest survive by masking their presence to others. Any action that would alert others to their location risks the hunter being the hunted.

Lui takes the idea of xenophobia to a logical extreme, reminiscent of a crude but effective version of game theory. Essentially, an intelligent species tolerating the existence of other intelligent species risks survival, whereas eliminating the competition completely and immediately ensures security.

Below is as fan made video of Lui’s work. Before I actually have read the commentary, I took the imagery to represent the immensity of space within a waterdrop to reflect the immensity of outer space.

 

Earth from Moon (NASA)
The Earthrise Photo

Text from NASA’s website:

-Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 1968. That evening, the astronauts-Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders-held a live broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they showed pictures of the Earth and moon as seen from their spacecraft. Said Lovell, “The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth.” They ended the broadcast with the crew taking turns reading from the book of Genesis.-

This is one of the most beautiful and possibly the most meaningful photo ever taken. Let us fight every day for it.