This feeling has been weighing on me for a while. An unreal, unsettled sensation that paints the familiar in strange light. Am I awake or am I dreaming? It’s hard to know. Sometimes the feeling lasts only a moment — a chill passing through my body on a hot day. Other times it crests and holds, and then fades slowly. Like when a roomful of people explodes into raucous conversation for no discernible reason. My favorite coffee mug feeling lighter than usual. The correct spelling of a word I use a million times a day looking inexplicably wrong on my computer screen, the cursor blinking accusingly just to the right.
In these moments, forgotten memories bubble up so vividly — exquisite sunlight through the classroom windows glistening against the downy hairs on my crush’s left arm as she blackens the bubbles on a Scantron form with the green no. 2 pencil I lent her the week before. It’s as if they were placed there just so by some wizened cosmic architect. Are they even mine?
Logging onto the internet these days feels like staring into a sandblaster of the absurd. Last summer, on Facebook, one of my oldest, dearest friends outed himself as an ardent Trump supporter. He believes, among other things, that giving women the right to vote “weakened the social fabric of the country.” He and his wife, also a close friend, have two daughters.
A chunk of ice the size of Delaware (or, as The Guardian put it, “twice the size of Luxembourg”; PS — congratulations, Delaware) recently came unmoored from the increasingly imperiled Antarctic ice shelf; the animals (according to a recent study) are dying; there was that thing at the Oscars; dogs apparently hate hugs; Donald Trump is the fucking president. The world has turned darkly upside down. How did this happen?
There are two ways to approach that question — the right and the wrong. The wrong way would be to examine the philosophies, histories, and global forces that delivered us rampant inequality and the wanton destruction of the earth. That leads nowhere. The right way is to pursue truth by studying the 1999 sci-fi action epic The Matrix. That’s where the answers are. Because that’s where we are. We live in the fucking Matrix. And I can prove it.
The Matrix, which is popularly regarded as a science-fiction film, is, in fact, part documentary, part Machine false-flag operation. It was released in the year commonly thought of as 1999. It tells the story of a solitary hacker named Neo, who realizes his destiny is to deliver humanity from the vast virtual prison where a race of oppressive machines uses us as batteries. This is not a work of fiction.
Neo is abetted by a raffish collection of heroes: the wise Morpheus, who awakens Neo from his digital slumber; the fiercely beautiful Trinity, whose love gives Neo a reason to believe; the energetic young Mouse; the ice-blonde Switch and black-haired Apoc, of whom we know very little; the Earth-born duo Tank and Dozer; and, lastly, Cypher, who yearns for the Matrix’s virtual comforts, ultimately betraying Neo and Morpheus.
Midway through the “film,” Cypher meets with the Agents, the elite virtual security force, inside a restaurant in the Matrix. There, over a digital reproduction of a blood-red steak, Cypher agrees to sell out Morpheus in return for a life of ease, wealth, and celebrity inside the simulation.
“I don’t want to remember nothing,” Cypher tells Agent Smith. “Nothing, you understand? And I want to be rich. Someone important. Like an actor.”
“Whatever you want, Mr. Reagan,” Smith says.
Later, still inside the Matrix, Cypher gives away the location of Morpheus and crew. Morpheus is taken prisoner. Mouse, Switch, Apoc, and Dozer are killed. Cypher slips into the real world. He kills Tank with an energy weapon and is about to kill Neo when he’s brought down by Dozer. But what if that’s just what the Machines want us to think? What if the Machines actually triumphed? What if Cypher’s deal actually was: slipping back into the simulation, where we all live, to take up his life as a rich and famous celebrity? The Matrix was released in 1999. Two years later, in Miami, a then-unknown rapper named Pitbull began his strange and mysterious rise to international prominence.
Pitbull is Cypher. Cypher is Pitbull. And we live in the Matrix. This explains everything.
Pitbull was born Armando Christian Perez in Miami in 1981. That’s if we assume that Pitbull, Miami, Florida, the United States of America, and the year 1981 AD are all the people, places, and concepts that we think they are. That’s if we assume the world we live in is real, not a simulacrum designed to keep us docile while our bodies are harvested for energy. Could such a thing be possible?
“There’s a one-in-billions chance that this is base reality,” said Elon Musk when asked about the possibility that we live in the Matrix at Recode’s Code Conference 2016. In English, that means that Musk thinks it’s likely, though not by a lot, that we’re right now living inside a simulation instead of real life. And he’s not alone. Noted astrophysicist and fun-ruiner Neil deGrasse Tyson puts the odds at a coin flip that we live in the Matrix.
“The strongest argument for us being in a simulation is the following: Forty years ago, we had Pong. Like, two rectangles and a dot. That was what games were,” Musk explained at Code Conference. “Forty years later we have photo-realistic, 3-D simulations, with millions of people playing simultaneously, and it’s getting better every year. If you assume any rate of improvement at all, then the game will become indistinguishable from reality.”
The world is shit, but don’t worry. It’s also fake.
My theory, which is true and real, goes like this:
The first half of The Matrix depicts the last phase of the human-Machine war as it actually happened: Morpheus and the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar freeing Neo from the simulation and their attempts to wake the human race from its slumber. The second half, after Cipher’s death, is Machine disinformation meant to keep us placid by delivering a classic Hollywood ending.
What actually happened is this: Cypher betrayed Morpheus. The Machines triumphed, Morpheus was captured, and Neo, Trinity, and the rest were killed. The Machines honored their deal, erased Cypher’s memories, and placed him back inside the Matrix. But not the actual one; the Machines created a Pocket Matrix, just for Cypher. Remember, the Matrix relies on choice in order to remain stable. As the Architect told Neo, the first iterations of the simulation were utopias that didn’t involve choice. Human minds rejected them, causing the Matrix to crash. The bargain the Machines struck with Cypher was to reinsert him under a set of specific parameters that applied only to him — wealth, fame, importance — that amount to, essentially, a personal utopia. Thus the Pocket Matrix; the Machines couldn’t risk infecting the wider system.
But you want proof. OK. First, the timeline. Pitbull makes his recording debut in 2001, not long after the “debut” of The Matrix. His vast fame and success — Bud Light ads; a write-up in Vanity Fair; appearances on The View; numerous hits that no one admits to liking (except maybe “Timber”); getting away with tucking his Marlins jersey into his pants; potentially joining an ownership group with Jeb Bush to buy the Marlins from the execrable Jeffrey Loria; his own Sirius Radio channel — is inexplicable. Unless you accept that he is Cypher and we live in his personal simulation.
This is why our world is such a mess. Not because of ancient racial animus or because people are susceptible to appeals to naked nationalism or because liberal democracy is under siege by aggressive foreign powers or because wealth has been concentrated in the hands of the few. It’s because we live in an unstable version of the Matrix that was designed to fulfill the desires and dreams of only one man — Cypher-Pitbull.
There are clues in Pitbull’s music. I asked noted rap historian, best-selling author, documentarian, and Ringer staff writer Shea Serrano (these terms, by the way, are all constructs of the pocket Matrix) to look at the lyrics to the biggest hits Pitbull has been involved with.
“Timber” (featuring Ke$ha)
The bigger they are, the harder they fall
This biggity boy’s a diggity dog
I have ’em like Miley Cyrus, clothes off
Twerking in their bras and thongs, timber
Face down, booty up, timber
That’s the way we like the what, timber
I’m slicker than an oil spill
She say she won’t, but I bet she will, timber
Look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane
Nah, it’s just me, ain’t a damn thing changed
Live in hotels, swing on plane
Blessed to say, money ain’t a thing
Club jumping like LeBron, now, Voli
Order me another round, homie
We about to climb, wild, ’cause it’s about to go down
Shea: “The main thing here is he’s advocating for Big Oil. He confirms it in the second verse when he talks about having a lot of money (Big Oil $$$, it would seem) and that’s probably why he has to have sex on that airplane (because Big Oil is destroying the earth so the elite have taken to the skies like in that Matt Damon movie). That’s what all the “it’s going down” talk is about.”
It’s notable that the album this track comes from is titled Global Warming: Meltdown.
“Time of Our Lives” (featuring NeYo)
This is the last $20 I got
But I’mma have a good time ballin’ or out
Tell the bartender line up some shots
Cause I’mma get loose tonight
She’s on fire, she’s so hot
I’m no liar, she burn up the spot
Look like Mariah, I took another shot
Told her drop, drop, drop, drop it like it’s hot
Dirty talk, dirty dance
She a freaky girl and I’m a freaky man
She on the rebound, broke up with her ex
And I’m like Rodman, ready on deck
I told her I wanna ride out, and she said yes
We didn’t go to church, but I got blessed
Shea: “You know what he’s doing in this one? He’s propagating the idea that reckless spending among the poverty-stricken is a good thing. AND! Even more offensive, he’s doing so by pretending to be poor himself. He raps about how he’s down to his last $20. The song came out in 2014. That same year Pitbull had a net worth of over $11 million. It’s shameful that he would pretend to be poor and then advocate blowing what little money you have. It’s a common strategy among the rich: you have to keep the disenfranchised disenfranchised.”
Notable, again, that the album this track appears on is titled Globalization. Pitbull is Cypher. Cypher is the Illuminati. We live in his world. Gaze upon the truth and despair.
Once you realize that the Pocket Matrix wasn’t built with you in mind, the world makes a lot more sense. Still, mysteries remain. Why does The Matrix exist inside the Pitbull Pocket Matrix in the first place? Does it exist in the wider Matrix? And when we think of the movie The Matrix, are the people we imagine inside of it aware that they’re not real? Does a cloud darken their faces when they glimpse imaginary Pitbull, with imaginary Marlins jersey tucked into imaginary white slacks, rapping:
I don’t play baseball but I’ve hit a home run everywhere, everywhere.
I’ve been to countries and cities I can’t pronounce
And the places on the globe I didn’t know existed.
In Romania she pulled me to the side and told me, “Pit, you can have me and my sister.”
In Lebanon, yeah, the women are bomb
And in Greece — you’ve guessed it — the women are sweet.
Been all around the world but I ain’t gon’ lie–there’s nothing like Miami’s heat.
Has Pitbull even seen The Matrix?