If you’ve heard of simulation theory — the idea that our entire universe could be running inside of some extra-dimensional computer — there’s a good chance you encountered it from. But how would an average person, someone whose clout doesn’t depend on provocative dorm room, philosophizing? How would the idea that the world isn’t “real” define how they interact with other ? If you’re even somewhat intrigued by exploring the subculture, you’ll appreciate A Glitch in the Matrix, Rodney Ascher’s latest documentary about uniquely obsessive personalities.
And if you’re wondering, no, the film doesn’tabout simulation theory. Even Ascher tells us he has no clue if it’s true. Instead, his interest is less in the idea and why people believe it. His award-winning 2012 documentary Room 237 was about the . His follow-up, The Nightmare, explored sleep paralysis and how it often constructs terrifying scenarios out of . It’s easy to draw a line from those films to people who distrust the very fabric of reality.
If the title wasn’t enough of a sign, A Glitch in the Matrix feels like an introduction to simulation theory instead of a rigorous discussion. But what it may lack in-depth, it makes up for in sheer watchability. The Matrix, after all, introduced the concept of simulated reality to an entire generation of emo teenagers (myself included) in 1999.
It’s simultaneously hilarious and sad to hear seemingly serious adults — represented as cartoonish CG avatars —of 7 billion individual consciousnesses on Earth. Why? Because there’s no way our universe simulator has enough processing power to handle that. The more logical explanation is that the machine is just recycling a couple hundred thousand personalities, the way an Assassin’s Creed its large crowds by reusing AI code.
Too often, I wished Ascher would push his subjects a bit more to test the. But I suppose that’s like trying to argue the planet’s shape with a Flat Earther. One subject managed to leave the crash in Mexico without a severe injury or being arrested. He thought the simulation was creating a successful narrative for him rather than dumb luck and his American privilege in action. After surviving something like that, how can we convince him otherwise? One person’s miracle is another’s optimal simulation path.