Freedom. Cue George Michael.
Ok, which one of you had I Want Your Sex in their heads when I mentiond George Michael? Go on, admit it!
In this week’s exciting episode of Empire of the Imagination I am delving into the world of freedom. You know, like The Matrix, or Escape from New York, or The Firm. What do all these movies have in common? They are all about freedom, in their own way.
But let’s get to The Matrix, because while Snake Plisken is sent in to rescue the President from a brutal gang in New York, and Tom Cruise snakes his way out of a corrupt law firm in…The Firm; it is in The Matrix that we discover what true freedom is all about.
In 1999 a movie was released with little fanfare and took the world by surprise. That movie was Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, and it had to compete with gigantic monolithic franchise busting movie, The Matrix.
(I think I got that the wrong way around, apologies)
In The Matrix the world is being fooled by controlling A.I. that create a world in order for us humans to sustain it. We are the fodder to keep it alive, and it offers us delicacies like nice food, alcohol, cool phones and gadgets to keep us quiet.
Of course it does. It is society. You are in society and you are the fodder to keep it alive, and it offers us delicacies like nice food, alcohol, cool phones and gadgets to keep us quiet.
OMG we are not free!! Noooooooo! As Luke Skywalker once replied when told who his father was. It happened to me once, when a person I had never actually spoken to before in a funny mask told me that he was my father and I had a similar reaction. Albeit I said, “Michael Myers, this isn’t funny.” To which he sulked and went on his way with his Shatner mask rubbing at his nose. I wondered then if it caused acne of any kind, and if when he took the mask off his skin smelled of rubber. I’m not keen on that smell, which is why I don’t wear rubber gloves for washing up or attending parties.
Ah, the old red herring digression of nonsense to increase the word count and help you to think you are reading something interesting. Well, here’s your chance. Go.
Ok, let’s continue. It’s time to wake up and smell the smelling salts. Because we are conditioned into believing we are not free. How’s that? By society. Yet there is a nice and easy (Clairol) way of changing your mindset to obtain that golden wonder (crisps) idea that you are actually free to do whatever the fuck it is you want to do.
It’s called, CHOICE.
Now, philosopher and writer Albert Camus famously wrote that ‘Life is the sum of all your choices. So what are you going to do today?’
He also said, ‘The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion’.
We can spend so long looking around and reminding ourselves how little choice we have, how little freedom we have. However, it is not you who are imprisoned, it is society. If you remove yourself from that then you have performed an act of freedom.
If we go back to Mr Camus, in the first quote he says that life is the sum of all your choices. You are responsible for being in the place you are, simple as that. Your life has played out and whether you feel you have been in control of it or not the simple fact remains that you are where you should be based on the choices you have made.
This may seem harsh to some, because there are many of us who have got used to blaming others for being where we are. But the reality is that we are responsible for our lives. Not others. If you have let someone dictate to you how you should live then you have made that choice, consciously or unconsciously. Camus reminds us of this.
His second quote is to shake you from your slumber. Society is designed to keep us all safe, keep us all ordered, and it has to accommodate everyone. The bad lot and the good lot. Some people love it, some people hate it, most people don’t think about it. You’ve seen The Matrix, well this is exactly that. Yet by understanding you have a choice in life means taking your first step towards your very own rebellion.
Are you a rebel? I believe that we all have the potential for rebelling, but fear locks us in place. Some of us don’t want to stand out from the crowd; some of us feel we don’t have what it takes, like The Right Stuff (movie). Rebelling takes bravery and “courage”, like the old lion would say from Wizard of Oz (another movie). There are plenty of us who don’t want to be a leader, a rebel, a Mandela, a Neo, a Luke Skywalker; we just don’t want that sort of responsibility.
Right, so here’s something you could do however, you could start with you. You don’t have to change society, that’s way too big man and boy that would take some doing. I mean, literally, you want me to literally change society, in one day? Woah, man, you’re crazy!
No, my little Fruit of the Loom (t-shirts), not society – You. You change your world, and the way you perceive your world and you, yes you will feel free.
Here’s what you do in a handy formula for you to cut out and keep.
FEAR – CHOICE + ACTION = FREEDOM
It sounds so simple, and believe me it isn’t. But you take small steps, make a small change and then more and then more. Every day work on your mindset so that you start to feel you have a choice in life, and once you feel that choice you work on the fear and action. You can change your world. You can break your own matrix and clear the clouds to figure out that you are indeed free!
I am Spartacus! Yes, so are you, and them, and perhaps over there…oh no, not that person, too…sparty!
Freedom comes from a state of mind. To work on that you must begin to realise the things that are stopping you from changing your state of mind. That is driven by fear, whether it comes up in other ways or not. We can work on that. You know who you need to call.
So I shall finish this episode with a little monologue from The Matrix. In this Neo is being asked to make a decision, he doesn’t understand his freedom, or his reality. He likes being in society but feels there is more out there. Ha, sound familiar?
“The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. 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.”
“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill: the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill: you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”
If you have a problem, if no-one else can help, and if you can find me, then call me, yes me. I’m your guide through pop culture to get your mindset back on track and rebuild that confidence and self-esteem. Helping you be the best you that you can think you can be. Head to my contact page.
I really should get paid for all that product placement.