Choice Is An Illusion: Inside The Matrix Resurrections’ Allegory for My Debilitating IBS

By Natalie Losse - Film Critic
Columnist

The Matrix Resurrections hit theaters this week, astonishing moviegoers worldwide with a hidden message most audience members won’t catch, an elaborate allegory about me and my personal experience with irritable bowel syndrome.

As a trans woman, I am no stranger to the original Matrix’s metaphor for finding identity in a world of rigid conformity, but this year’s sequel tapped into a much more personal struggle. In The Matrix Resurrections, Lana Wachowski ascends beyond the easy-going, carefree lives of trans people and explores the adversity and heartbreak of my irregular shitting.

“The corporate world wasn’t ready for this story twenty years ago,” said Wachowski, 53, in a recent interview with IBS weekly magazine The Strain. “This film is about transformation, acceptance, and one specific girl who spends 15, 20 minutes in the bathroom per movement, at the very least.”

For most trans people, using a public bathroom is a stress-free encounter. For me, a person with IBS, restrooms are politically-charged arenas where any wrong move could ruin my day—or my life. Resurrections gives a subtle nod to my plight by having at least one scene where Neo (Keanu Reeves) goes into a bathroom, as well as several moments where characters offscreen could be taking a break to go piss and shit.

In my community, we have a word for people who haven’t yet realized they have IBS: Husks. When I was a Husk, I moved through life like Neo in Resurrections, wracked with confusion, plagued by deja vu, and constantly wanting to hang out with Carrie-Anne Moss. The word “Husk” refers to the psyllium husk pills people like me take to deal with IBS symptoms, a fact Wachowski undoubtedly references with the reprisal of the red pill and blue pill.

These moments may seem small, insignificant, or made up, but they give me confidence in a world that hates my very existence. Everyday I am inundated with conservate pundits debating the validity of IBS, family members disowning me for ruining their toilets, and ludicrous demands from medical professionals like “stop eating an entire blooming onion for breakfast.

The original Matrix taught a generation that being trans is a gift, an opportunity to escape the simulation. In 2021, we’ve basically solved transphobia, and we need media for people with real problems. The Matrix Resurrections proves there is space in this world for me, that I am still worthy of love, even if I have to leave the film early to absolutely wreck the AMC bathroom.

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