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Red pill and blue pill


Red pill and blue pill

A red pill and a blue pill.

The red pill and its opposite, the blue pill, are popular culture symbols representing the choice between embracing the sometimes painful truth of reality (red pill) and the blissful ignorance of illusion (blue pill). Redpills are people who have chosen to face reality, while bluepills remain living in ignorance of the truth, whether by choice or because they have not had a choice.

The terms, popularized in science fiction culture, are derived from the 1999 film The Matrix. In the film, the main character Neo is offered the choice between a red pill and a blue pill. The blue pill would allow him to remain in the fabricated reality of the Matrix, therefore living the "ignorance of illusion", while the red pill would lead to his escape from the Matrix and into the real world, therefore living the "truth of reality" even though it is a harsher, more difficult life.


  • Background 1
    • The Matrix 1.1
    • Total Recall 1.2
  • Analysis 2
  • Other uses 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5


A lot of historical myths and philosophy have influenced The Matrix, including Gnosticism, existentialism, and nihilism.

The film's premise resembles Plato's Allegory of the cave,[1][2] René Descartes's skepticism[3][4] and evil demon, Kant's reflections on the Phenomenon versus the Ding an sich, Zhuangzi's "Zhuangzi dreamed he was a butterfly", the concept of a simulated reality and the brain in a vat thought experiment.[5][6]

Japanese director Mamoru Oshii's Ghost in the Shell was a strong influence.[7]

The Matrix

In The Matrix, Neo (Keanu Reeves) hears rumors of the Matrix and a mysterious man named Morpheus. Neo spends his nights at his home computer trying to discover the secret of the Matrix and what the Matrix is. Eventually, another hacker, Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), introduces Neo to Morpheus.

Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) explains to Neo that the Matrix is an illusory world created to prevent humans from discovering that they are slaves to an external influence. Holding out a capsule on each of his palms, he describes the choice facing Neo:

As narrated, the blue pill will allow the subject to remain in the fabricated reality of the Matrix; the red serves as a "location device" to locate the subject's body in the real world and to prepare him or her to be "unplugged" from the Matrix. Once one chooses the red or blue pill, the choice is irrevocable.

Neo takes the red pill and awakens in the real world, where he is forcibly ejected from the liquid-filled chamber in which he has been lying unconscious. After his rescue and convalescence aboard Morpheus' ship, Morpheus shows him the true nature of the Matrix: a detailed computer simulation of Earth at the end of the 20th century (the actual year, though not known for sure, is approximately two hundred years later). It has been created to keep the minds of humans docile while their bodies are stored in massive power plants, their body heat and bioelectricity consumed as power by the sentient machines that have enslaved them.

In a 2012 interview, Lana Wachowski said:[8]

What we were trying to achieve with the story overall was a shift, the same kind of shift that happens for Neo, that Neo goes from being in this sort of cocooned and programmed world, to having to participate in the construction of meaning to his life. And we were like, 'Well, can the audience go through the three movies and experience something similar to what the main character experiences?'
So the first movie is sort of typical in its approach. The second movie is deconstructionist, and it assaults all of the things that you thought to be true in the first movie, and so people get very upset, and they're like 'Stop attacking me!' in the same way that people get upset with deconstructionist philosophy. I mean, Derrida and Foucault, these people upset us. And then the third movie is the most ambiguous, because it asks you to actually participate in the construction of meaning.
— Lana Wachowski, Movie City News, October 13, 2012

Total Recall

The 1990 movie Total Recall features a red pill that is offered to Arnold Schwarzenegger's character, Douglas Quaid. He is told "it's a symbol—of your desire to return to reality."[9][10] No blue pill is present in the film, and the story centers on the very uncertainty of whether Quaid is dreaming or in the real world. However, the pill is offered to him with the claim that he is dreaming, and that the pill will return him to reality, with the words "inside your dream, you'll fall asleep."


An essay written by Matrix films set things up so that even if Neo fails, the taking of the red pill is worthwhile because he lives and dies authentically. Blackford and science-fiction writer James Patrick Kelly feel that The Matrix stacks the deck against machines and their simulated world.[11]

Matrix Warrior: Being the One author Jake Horsley compared the red pill to LSD, citing a scene where Neo forms his own world outside of the Matrix. When he asks Morpheus if he could return, Morpheus responds by asking him if he would want to. Horsley also describes the blue pill as addictive, calling The Matrix series a continuous series of choices between taking the blue pill and not taking it. He adds that the habits and routines of people inside the Matrix are merely the people dosing themselves with the blue pill. While he describes the blue pill as a common thing, he states that the red pill is one of a kind, and something someone may not even find.[12]

In the book

  1. ^ Glenn Yeffeth (11 March 2003). Taking the Red Pill: Science, Philosophy and the Religion in the Matrix. BenBella Books. p. 152.  
  2. ^ "You Won’t Know the Difference So You Can’t Make the Choice". 
  3. ^ Dan O'Brien (4 December 2006). An Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge. Polity. p. 115.  
  4. ^ "Skepticism". 
  5. ^ "“Brain in a Vat” Argument, The - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy". 
  6. ^ ENR // AgencyND // University of Notre Dame. "Philosophers Explore The Matrix". 
  7. ^ (interview with the Wachowskis)"Matrix Virtual Theatre".  
  8. ^ Poland, David (October 13, 2012). "DP/30: Cloud Atlas, Screenwriter/Directors Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski". Retrieved December 10, 2012. 
  9. ^ Total Recall - final script, Retrieved Jul 2013.
  10. ^ Dr. Edgemar's Pill, Total Recall (1990), Retrieved Jul 2013.
  11. ^ Kapell, Matthew; Doty, William G (2004-05-28). Jacking in to the Matrix franchise: cultural reception and interpretation.  
  12. ^ Horsley, Jake (2003-11-08). Matrix Warrior: Being the One.  
  13. ^ Kawasaki, Guy (2004). The art of the start: the time-tested, battle-hardened guide for anyone starting anything.  
  14. ^ Joanna Rutkowska. Red Pill... or how to detect VMM using (almost) one CPU instruction(archive), Invisible Things Lab
  15. ^ "Red Pill mode". wiki. Retrieved January 25, 2010. 
  16. ^ "src/". hildon-application-manager. Line 153. Retrieved January 25, 2010. 
  17. ^ "Marx Reloaded trailer". Retrieved January 16, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Men's rights movement: why it is so controversial?". The Week. February 19, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  19. ^ Sharlet, Jeff (March 2015). "Are You Man Enough for the Men's Rights Movement?". GQ. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  20. ^ Love, Dylan (September 15, 2013). "Inside Red Pill, The Weird New Cult For Men Who Don't Understand Women". Business Insider. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 


See also

  • The Blue Pill rootkit ("malware"), and the Red Pill technique, reference to the pills in a special type of software that utilizes the virtualization techniques of modern CPUs to execute as a hypervisor; as a virtual platform on which the entire operating system runs, it is capable of examining the entire state of the machine and to cause any behavior with full privilege, while the operating system "believes" itself to be running directly on physical hardware, creating a parallel to the illusory Matrix. Blue Pill describes the concept of infecting a machine while Red Pill techniques help the operating system to detect the presence of such a hypervisor.[14] These concepts were described by Joanna Rutkowska in 2006.
  • Until they were removed from the Maemo operating system application installer in January 2010, certain advanced features were unlocked by a "Red Pill Mode" easter egg to prevent accidental use by novice users but make them readily available to experienced users. This was activated by starting to add a catalog whose URL was "matrix" and then choosing to cancel. A dialog box would appear asking "Which pill?" with the choices "Red" or "Blue", allowing the user to enter red pill mode.[15][16] In "Red Pill" mode the installer allows the user to view and reconfigure system packages whose existence it normally does not acknowledge. In Blue Pill mode the installer displays only software installed by a user, creating the illusion that system software does not exist on the system.
  • The choice between taking a blue or red pill is a central metaphor in the 2011 Arte documentary film Marx Reloaded, in which philosophers including Slavoj Žižek and Nina Power explore solutions to the global economic and financial crisis of 2008–09. The film also contains an animated parody of the red/blue pill scene in The Matrix, with Leon Trotsky as Morpheus and Karl Marx as Neo.[17]
  • The term "red pill" is frequently used by people in the men's rights movement as a metaphor for the specific moment when they come to the belief that the gender roles they are expected to conform to, are intended to benefit women, not themselves.[18][19] "The Red Pill" is also the name of a related manosphere and seduction community subforum on Reddit.[20]

Other uses


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