Friday, May 22, 2009

Terminator vs. Matrix vs. the Ultimate Fan Fiction

It’s been just over ten years since the first Matrix movie came out, and though it doesn’t at first appear to have a direct connection to the Terminator movies, there was a fascinating charge that both franchises had been ripped off from the same source. I mentioned the lawsuit on this blog exactly one year ago tomorrow but should have added that it was dismissed — and probably wisely so, since the ostensibly ripped-off work, Sophia Stewart’s sci-fi novel The Third Eye, was written around 1986, two years after The Terminator came out.

Nonetheless, it is easy to imagine the two franchises fitting together into one story, with Sarah Connor effectively giving birth to Neo and him leading the post-apocalyptic fight against the Terminators. I’m hoping the movie out today will be more straightforward than all the mother-son-destiny-time-travel stuff we’ve seen from prior iterations of Terminator and will just, at long last, show humans and machines at war.

But sometimes fans do want ornate complexity, and if they can’t get it from their favorite franchises, they make stuff up — perhaps writing online fan fiction pitting Star Wars characters against Star Trek characters or something. (It’s not hard to imagine Vulcans taking an interest in studying the Force — and, after the events in the new Trek movie, time travel — and next thing you know they’re in a galaxy far, far away at odds with the Sith and working with the Jedi, the Enterprise is battling the Death Star, and, well, you get the idea.)


Anyway, I don’t write fan fiction (it’s bad enough I routinely blog without getting paid for it), but I did once ask myself, as a stunt, what would be the simplest plausible device by which I could concoct a piece of fan fiction uniting numerous sci-fi-type franchises that don’t normally (and indeed should not) have anything to do with each other and could not co-exist without prohibitively complicated legal arrangements being drawn up.

I swear I only spent a couple minutes thinking about it. What I came up with was the premise that numerous prominent references to “the matrix” in different genre works are in fact referring to the same sentient electrical force, which appears in different forms in different stories — and leads to all the characters coming together.

The Wikipedia disambiguation page for “matrix” gives you some idea just how many nerd characters could thereby be unified — including Transformers (Optimus Prime calls the Autobot power source the Matrix), Doctor Who (it was revealed decades ago that the Timelords store their vast knowledge in a computer-generated artificial reality called the Matrix), an old Canadian supernatural-thriller TV series called Matrix co-starring Carrie Ann Moss of all people and involving a city in Limbo, and even the Arnold Schwarzenegger action film Commando (in which he plays John Matrix — who we can pretend is a rogue Terminator, obviously). And the Wikipedia page didn’t even mention Unimatrix One, which, fittingly, is the shared collective dreamscape of the Borg hivemind in Star Trek.

Then you climax the whole story with some ludicrous Rube Goldbergian stunt like Seven of Nine driving Optimus Prime full-throttle into the TARDIS or something. Synergy achieved — and so elegantly, don’t you think?


Meanwhile, back in the real world, some bits of Terminator trivia:

•I notice that due to a sweepstakes contest, there are ads online saying “Terminator Salvation Only at Pizza Hut” — which is a really strange confluence of words, when you think about it.

•A couple amusing Summer Glau quotes from an interview with her about the likely-ended Terminator TV series:

“You know, when you do drama you try different things. Not my character, because I play a robot, but you come in and try to deliver from your gut…”

“Comedy is definitely harder. Just give me a gun, let me run around and wrestle people. I’d choose that any day of the week.”

•Here’s a clip of an exoskeleton suit — from Cyberdine, no less — that may set you on the road to being the cyborg you’ve long wanted to be (this was pointed out to me by Reid Mihalko, who has himself been likened to a cross between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Macaulay Culkin, in a passage in the book Ivy League Stripper by Heidi Mattson).

•I caught a moment of the May 8 episode of gossip show TMZ in which host Harvey Levin was briefly embarrassed when he reacted with glee to an underling’s report of spotting Sam Worthington (who plays a Terminator in the new movie) but then had to admit that, being a fifty-seven-year-old, he was thinking of Cal Worthington, a famed and flamboyant West Coast used car dealer known for advertising on TV with his dog Spot, more or less. It was an endearingly unhip moment. And anyway, I’m sure Sam and Cal can be tied together in the fan fiction epic.


Todd Seavey said...

7/11 is also advertising the Apocalyptic Ice Slurpee to coincide with _Terminator Salvation_, by the way.

Todd Seavey said...

By the way: I’ll see the 9:50 _Terminator Salvation_ (lingering in the Regal E-Walk lobby on 42nd from 9:10-9:15pm tonight, 5/22) if anyone’s interested and if Fandango or whoever still has tix (I’ve got mine).