In Defense of Cypher and Wanting to Dream

Yesterday morning at 10 A.M I found myself fading in and out of sleep. I’d wanted to stay in bed for as long as possible to make up for the fact that I’d been partying with my friends for our collective birthdays for almost two weeks straight.

It felt good to sleep, as I’m sure most people know.

What also felt good was to dream. What didn’t feel good, was not finishing the dream.

For some reason, me and a friend were trapped in a Chinese airport. That’s it. It wasn’t particularly complicated. I didn’t even necessarily know I was dreaming. I’ve never been to China or any other Asian country. I suspect it mainly came from my time spent in Vancouver BC’s China Town, which I’d stayed near the weekend before.

Anyway, I found myself being called back to the dream, and inexplicably, from my perspective, I returned to that Chinese airport every time I returned to sleep.

Until I didn’t, because I was now wide awake.

I don’t know why I was so interested in getting out of that airport, but the fact that I essentially never did (even though I was never there in the first place) left me unsatisfied.

It was in this moment that I remembered Joe Pantoliaono’s character from the Matrix. I haven’t seen the Matrix in almost ten years. I wasn’t actually a huge fan of it when it first came out back in ’99. (The only movie I really paid any attention to that year was ‘The Phantom Menace’). But I’ve come to appreciate it more and more as it ages.

From it’s wonderfully fake backdrops in the opening rooftop chase, to its idea that information is something to be downloaded rather than learned, I think it is both quaint and still very timely.

But Cypher, the “Judas” to Keanu Reeve’s “Jesus”, was easily taken as a simple sniveling, wormy villain. Weak and too eager to take the easy way out.

I unfortunately cannot defend anyone who willingly kills his friends to get what he wants, however, I’d argue that none of the Nebuchadnezzar’s crew were friends of his – more like co-workers, and I can easily see myself throwing certain co-workers under the bus.

Yes, he was a traitor. Yes, he was a cold-blooded murderer. But Joey Pants just wanted to return to his dream, which I feel like either literal or figuratively, we all want to do when faced with the disillusionment of reality.

Good villains only benefit from sympathetic motivations, and I’m glad of his inclusion in the film’s narrative. In many ways, he was the sane man, rejecting zealot like behavior and owning up to the fact that humanity is stuck fighting a losing battle.

Many, perhaps the best of us, still charge ahead, guns blazing, but who is to say which side was truly in denial. I mean, they ALL ended up dying in the end anyway right? Without accomplishing anything.

Or maybe that was bad writing.


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