"What Would Keanu Do?" My Capsule <em>Matrix</em> Review for Jeff Yang's <em>The Golden Screen</em> (Cut for Space)

The Golden Screen is a new book from longtime colleague Jeff Yang, and it's a fun and inspiring tribute to the movies which help shape Asian-American culture, from acclaimed recent hits like Everything Everywhere All at Once and Crazy Rich Asians to influential international classics like John Woo's The Killer and Park Chan Wook's Oldboy.

Jeff, who once hosted an SXSW panel on race and avatars I participated in, asked me to contribute some capsule review which were tragically cut for length. But because my Matrix capsule is pretty germane to New World Notes, you can read it here:

It was as if the Wachowski siblings had somehow gotten into my head and conjured up an epic movie that whipped together my most favorite and deeply personal things: Cyberpunk science fiction that incorporated philosophy and virtual worlds that also came with copious kung fu and Hong Kong-style gunplay, starring someone who shared my somewhat quirky demographic as a hapa guy with a Hawai’i background.

“But that’s what I wanted to make!” technologist Philip Rosedale famously groused as he left the theater after watching The Matrix — then went on to more or less do that several years later with Second Life, the pioneering metaverse platform he co-founded. 

I entered that particular Matrix in 2003, found more inspirational user creativity than dystopian horror there (for the most part), and pretty much haven’t left since, acting as the virtual world’s embedded reporter. And now that “the Metaverse” is finally ascendant across popular culture, and a struggle between corporate overlords and grassroots metaverse fans emerges, I sometimes ask myself: “What would Keanu do?”

Explore the final published book, featuring a preface by Michelle Yeoh, on Amazon here.

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