The Truth Behind The Billion-Dollar 'Matrix' Lawsuit

The Truth Behind The Billion-Dollar 'Matrix' Lawsuit

Concern over unethical use of material isn't even the most intriguing part of the case.

When "The Matrix" was first announced, a number of consumers expected nothing more than another science fiction, action thriller while a similar number anticipated the same generic stunts. Few expected it to be terribly intelligent as the general preponderance of directors have all of the style but none of the substance expected of a Hollywood director. Just as we, as an audience, have come to expect a certain transcendence from films by the likes of Christopher Nolan and James Cameron, we also have grown skeptical of anyone who isn't Christopher Nolan or James Cameron.

With Cameron, it's really, "Ask and you shall receive but you really needn't ask."

Fortunately for the Wachowskis, and all parties who stood to profit from the more than 1.6 billion dollars brought in by the film, "The Matrix" has endured great success since its release in 1999. This is largely thanks to a plot replete with thought-provoking questions presented concurrently with satisfying visuals. "The Matrix" posits a seemingly innocent narrative but, intersplicing the tantalizing fight scenes, subtle ideas are dropped. Ideas such as the concept that choice is an illusion perpetuated by those with power, for the detriment of those without power. "The Matrix" story continues in its two sequels: The "Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions." For the most part, reaction to "The Matrix" was overwhelmingly positive. Viewers were happy to see it repeatedly while commenting on aspects of the film such as the Bullet Time camera and the realistic implications of living in a pod while not getting exercise.

Just ask Laurence Fishburne (Morpheus) after he got a desk job in 'Man of Steel'.

However, since its release, the film and its producers have found themselves captive to a series of peculiar circumstances. The producers, the Wachowski brothers, could surely see the masterpiece they were creating, and were well aware that they were about to change cinematic history, but one could hardly expect them to prepare for the accusations that were to come from one individual in the African-American writing community.

While the majority of viewers were happy to be entertained for the two hours and 16 minutes they spent watching the film, one audience member, Sophia Stewart, watched in horror and disbelief at what looked strikingly like her own work, "The Third Eye." Much to the chagrin of anyone who was hoping for her accusations to be quickly swept under the rug, Stewart actually did have grounds to assume that Twentieth Century Fox had seen and copied her work. You see, Stewart had sent her book in treatment form to Twentieth Century Fox for consideration, and then to Warner Bros. a few years later; however, it was rejected both times. The fact that Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros. both had access to her work before releasing "The Matrix," gave her cause enough to accuse the producers of plagiarism based on slight similarity and a common theme.

Sophia "Mother of 'The Matrix'" Stewart

Fortunately for Stewart, she took action in 1981 to ensure that her work would remain hers, and copyrighted "The Third Eye," a story she was inspired to write after watching "Star Wars." This allowed her to argue that the producers of "The Matrix" had not only transgressed morally against her, but had also committed a legal felony by using copyrighted material. She describes her book topically as the Second Coming of Christ, the evolution of consciousness, and perhaps most pertinent to the case for plagiarism, man versus machine. Taking these themes into account, it is difficult to ignore the similarities between the two works, but most would attribute them to nothing more than coincidence inside a specific genre that allows for only so much deviation.

Stewart did not intend to let this perceived crime go unpunished and, after viewing the similarities in "The Matrix," Stewart immediately filed suit against the producers. The fight was promulgated in 2003 when she formally engaged in litigation against the Wachowski brothers, Twentieth Century Fox, Joel Silver, and Warner Bros., positing that this was blatant ideological theft.

The results of the court case have been the stuff of viral legend and have been falsely reported on multiple occasions such as here and here. In reality, the case carried on for several years only to be dismissed by the court in 2005 when Stewart not only failed to show up to court but also "had not entered any evidence to bolster her key claims or demonstrated any striking similarity between her work and the accused directors' films," according to court documents. The claims that Stewart was awarded the largest sum in the history of Hollywood are indisputably false as the only funds awarded were a little more than $300,000 in attorney fees to the defendants but these were never collected.

Amusingly, this wasn't the last time the Wachowskis would be accused of stealing. In 2013 Thomas Althouse filed suit claiming that "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolution" were both taken from his own work, "The Immortals."

Why he would willingly claim responsibility for this catastrophe is perplexing.

The story of Sophia Stewart is hardly a tale of David versus Goliath, for David had the distinct advantage of owning the rocks he threw. Stewart took on one of the big six media conglomerates and the outcome was as predictable as ever with Stewart simplifying the matter by being absent from court on the day of reckoning; but while Stewart was throwing pebbles, something far more interesting was going on between the Wachowski "brothers." Two years before the release of their new film, "Cloud Atlas," Larry Wachowski revealed her transition to Lana Wachowski, affirming rumors that had been going around since the 2000s.

Someone will inevitably use this as proof that Tupac is still alive.

Interestingly, while writing this piece, Andy Wachowski revealed his transition to a weekly LGBT Chicago newspaper. As of March 8 2016, Andy Wachowski adopted the name Lilly.

Now, as you re-watch "The Matrix," you can utilize your newfound knowledge to view the entirety of the trilogy as an analogy for the Wachowski's identity struggle; this is assuming you want to cease taking any enjoyment whatsoever from watching the films. Fortunately, the transition is not without its positive developments, for the Wachowskis have since released their new film, "Cloud Atlas," with the lion's share of reviews being positive.

The success of "Cloud Atlas" is rather telling when it comes to the future of film in that Larry and Andy's respective members were probably not the sources of genius behind "The Matrix" and that the Wachowski siblings will continue making high level films. As far as the case against them is concerned, Lana and her new found BFF can sleep soundly at night, knowing that "The Matrix" was not stolen from black people, unlike those dreadlocks.

Oh, yeah, she also says she wrote "Terminator."

Cover Image Credit: Google

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.


Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.

I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.

I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.

As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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