Take the Red Pill, by Francis X. Maier

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Neo (Keanu Reeves) takes the red pill.

By Francis X. Maier, The Catholic Thing, Sept. 14, 2023

Francis X. Maier is a senior fellow in Catholic studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.


The single most iconic moment in late ‘90s cinema is arguably Neo’s choice in the first Matrix film.  The Matrix, for those with a leaky memory, posits a future where humans live in an envelope of illusions; a dreamworld of everyday normalcy.  In reality, each floats in a narcotic bath managed by sentient machines.  Humans created the machines and gave them intelligence.  The machines then enslaved the humans.  They now use their living, anesthetized human creators as battery power.

The storyline is simple.  Neo (an anagram for the “One”) is a computer programmer and hacker.  He senses that something indefinable is wrong with the fabric of everyday life.  He’s contacted online by members of the human underground working to overthrow the machines.  They present him with a choice of two pills.  The blue pill will return him, untroubled, to the pleasures of his dreamlife.  The red one will open his eyes to sobering reality.  Neo takes the red one and frees his mind.  He goes on to become, in effect, humanity’s savior. …

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