The Matrix was certainly some kind of cultural turning point, in terms of "our" dreams. Namely, the death of the montage: no longer does the hero need to work hard, sacrifice, be disciplined, develop an honor code, and/or all of that other boring shit, in order to become utterly kickass. Instead, he can use Technology to instantly load all of those things. In two minutes flat, the deadpan emerges, "I know kung fu." (Which would be really stunning if kung fu were actually useful, rather than just cool-looking, but put that aside for the time being. And maybe not the literal death of the montage, but its sex change operation into a montage of rushed thought rather than an artistic representation of the passage of time.)
Matrix was 1999. The perfect crap to throw at Generation X and Millenials, you might say--not because those people actually fell into those groups, but because those groups were created for them to conform to, in large part by the same people who produced Matrix. It's a Cinderella story without the prince, where Neo is swept off his feet not by a handsome stranger (unless you count Morpheus), but instead, by a computer, who can make him into the person he already was...by adding things which he was not already, using technology which he did not understand, and which Morpheus, by his own admittance, lacked the verbal skills to explain. Actually, I always suspected that Laurence Fishburne could've explained, "It's a computer simulation," whereas the Wachowski self-identified siblings (S.I.S.) could themselves not.
Big jump. Big cultural shift. You go to college not to learn, but for the experience, after which you're entitled to a job. Perfect SWPL. You're plugged into a USB 11.0 that, without any effort greater than "deciding to take the ____ pill," makes you a superhero. No one cares about watching Rudy fail to play collegiate football for a whole movie. At least Nolan made Bruce Wayne spend a solid 15 minutes learning ancient Oriental arts from an Irish ninja/jedi master (sic) before he could learn unbalanced shuriken marksmanship and group combat. We're at least a half century past the time when we could bear the pain of watching someone train hard, unless you count Jewish world boxing champions (sic) who are no longer Heath's bottom.
So yeah, that's easy to track. 1999, new century incoming, they make Matrix, and it becomes passé to have to be reminded of grueling effort being put into anything. Whatever the cinematic laziness, it reveals a lot about cultural formation--the effortless society. Not really effortless, it turns out--the targets were meant to fail--but it leaves them feeling guilty, stupid, and despondent, when they look back on a lifetime of expecting to be like Keanu, and realize that duh, of course, it wasn't going to happen just by deciding. No Morpheus to make you better. Should've worked harder.
Neglected in this cinematic thrill ride is the end-century Good Will Hunting, using another propagandist's favorite. Matt Damon is useful for encouraging blind trust toward exorbitantly priced "special ops" programs, similar to how James Bond and Mission Impossible wanked off several generations of Anglo-Americans into believing that trillions of dollars in black operations were "cool" and "worth it." How crushing it is, when they sit down in Saint Peter's movie theater, learn the truth of the world, and discover that 99.9% of special operations involved nothing fancier than pushing some peasant labor organizer into a van, driving him to the local secret police office, and having him cremated, in order to prevent a daily 10 cent raise for banana pickers from going into effect. Ohhhh James Bond, ohhhh Navy Seals, you sexy, incredible daredevils, you...I hear you train sixty hours a week for years in a row using eighty thousand dollars of equipment per person before you travel to Honduras to enter an unlocked shack in a shantytown at two in the morning, put three into the back of some elderly 5'4" indigenous fruit picker sleeping in rags next to his wife, then fly to Israel for a special course in Krav Faga taught by overgrown rodent demons to learn how to break the teeth of dusky four-year-olds for throwing rocks at tanks. And you can't even manage that without a squad of nine, close air support, seven layers of flak protection, and 1.5 medals per mission.
Back to Good Will Hunting, though. Even though I hate, hate, hate Krav Faga. How narcissistic and dumb do you have to be to come up with a ritual-based "martial art" in the same half century when Bruce Lee and Dana White were popularizing (and proving) their irrelevance? They're beautiful, and God knows they should still be around and still be practiced, and it's quite certain that the artistic elements replaced the realistic ones with the advent of modernity--yet, the attempt to make up a new one, Krav Faga, is as artificial and loathsome as the pretension of learning Hebrew in a house taken from a Palestinian grandmother. No wonder that it takes six or seven men with assault rifles to successfully employ Krav Faga against even one pregnant woman with a gunshot wound. Without a team of porcine thugs at your back, KF fails to work at stopping teenagers from stabbing you right in the ribs. Ain't that right, checkpoint sissies? Oh, boo-hoo, if only the Christian Zionists would send us another two billion dollars a year, we might be able to protect ourselves better from those scary starving children! Haha--joke's on you. Once the Aztecs take over Aztlan, they'll cut off the funding to your little colony, bring foreign military aid to the Middle East down to Central American levels, and the Arabs will turn you into olive groves.
Okay, seriously, back to Good Will Hunting. It's an overlooked predecessor to Matrix, in the sense that the character gets picked out of nowhere, recognized as brilliant, by a wise and powerful mediator with connections to a bigger world. Robin Williams is no Morpheus, but however scantily he occupied Fishburne's later loafers, he played the same part. We know that good Will Hunting is smart. He just is smart. We know it because he memorized a lot of books and has no time for academic drivel. Not that we can tolerate watching him study, or thinking about the specifics of any of the issues that he must have grappled with in order to become quite so smart (or at least, smart enough to know when to cite certain portions of the works he memorized). No, we only have time for seeing him do humanities-fu with instant discovery.
So maybe they are Cinderella stories, only homosexual ones, where Dr. Sean Maguire and Hovercraft Captain Morpheus Nosurname are the handsome princes in disguise who just realize out of nowhere that cindy ella is actually gorgeous underneath all her mundane workaday clothes. The slipper fits, the world instantly becomes gigantic, and you're a celebrity who does transdimensional jiujitsu without any bothersome backstory. As always, the Freudian swine throw in quantum psychiatry, a.k.a. "psychotherapy." Literally, in Will Hunting's case, figuratively via the Oracle in Neo's. Parents, kin, and background are nonexistent in the brave utopia where you do transdimensional jiujitsu simply because you are tapped by a charismatic mediator, who will appear and force you to better yourself instantly based on your latent society-defying superpowers. If that doesn't sound like the wet dream of Critical Theory, what does?