The art of being clever in entertainment is sometimes in how well you hide messages. The less people that notice, the more successful you are at being “clever”. Hidden in plain sight is the act of praying on one’s ignorance. The more esoteric, the better.

The Matrix series was one of the most popular film franchises of all time, not only because of all the notions of feeling trapped in a world of illusions, but because of all the nerdy symbolism that was present. The messages of the films have been some of the most fiercely debated as many film buffs stormed the internet to compare their ideas with each other and hopefully high five each other on who has the better interpretation of the work. Why? Maybe because it’s just fun to them. But most of the time, it’s because we all need validation of our opinions and thoughts. Pin-pointing symbols in a work and pointing them out where ever you go on the internet makes you feel intelligent and cunning enough to decipher the author’s carefully hidden secrets. In America, Knowledge is a weapon of intellectual combat. And unfortunately, we’ve blown it to extremes in which we have to know everything, even when it is completely irrelevant to the situation.

For example, if I pointed out that the 4 bosses from Bomberman Jetters were based on Chinese Mythology of the North Turtle, East Dragon, West Phoenix, and Southern Cat, all while you were doing boss runs, would you care? It may be interesting to notice, but ultimately, that knowledge has no impact on your life, or your ability to kill the bosses.

It’s all for the sake of Trivia. Young people on the internet are damned obsessed with Trivia. People who stay up late reading TvTropes are obsessed with Trivia. Knowing where an author’s inspirations come from is fun for most, but ultimately “Trivial” to one’s enjoyment of the medium. And a lot of times, an author may not intentionally hide messages but wish for people to be entertained by a story. But the nerds of the internet wouldn’t be stopped from reducing the message to pointless trivia about something that commonly goes on in the world.

The internet has given voices to countless minority cliques. It’s grown to a point that we clearly misunderstand what the majority want out of entertainment (SEGA and CAPCOM). So when we see so many people banter on and on about pointless trivia, our minds are fooled. “Do people just like pointless symbolism being thrown around with no correlation to a point?” While the obvious answer would be a great no, take a look at the video up top. That video is nothing but Trivia Noise. And it had gone viral.

Yes, the internet LOVES pointless Trivia even when it lacks context. I Pet Goat II is nothing but a “I can interpret this better than you” penis pump contest. There is no context, no underlying message behind the work, it’s just thrown together with the hopes of being considered “knowledgable” on the subject of NWO. There’s no desire to be clever. No desire to say “who can find my symbols!?” It’s the most blatant show case ever. Is this supposed to be a call to arms? Is it supposed to stimulate the senses? Is it supposed to make you think? The latter might be true, but make is the key word. You can’t just throw the symbols out there for no reason, otherwise people would just be confused to what the point is. If you’re not affluent with NWO conspiracies or think it’s all bullshit, this film means nothing to you, and ultimately fails on stimulating one’s cognitive processes.

Unfortunately, this seems to have become a habit as of late. While earlier than the film, The Conduit series on Wii is also filled with trivia noise. The story is that of a “Trust” agent being bretrayed by the Trust and joining his perceived enemies to get revenge all the while uncovering a conspiracy of Extra Terrestrial Conquest. Now, there’s loads of NWO symbolism in both games, from hidden journals to “Conspiracy objects” and radio stations that refer to the Freemasons. All I could ask was “how is this relevant to the plot of the game?”. You have a gadget called the ASE or “All-Seeing-Eye” which you can find on that worthless paper you call a buck. Those “in the know” would quickly pin-point that to “The Eye of Satan OMG!”, but most people would think that’s a cool name for a scanning device because it can find hidden objects. Then there’s a “Stargate” structure which leads you to the lost city of Atlantis called “The Mayan Calender”. Again, those in the know (or care) would go “The calender that predicts when the world will end!” It even has a journal suggesting “oddly, the calender stops at 2012”. But what does it ultimately mean for the game itself?

Even the stage by stage progression is symbolic in a way. One, You have Atlantis and Brazil, but the big 3 levels are in the District of Columbia, America, some underground temple in China, and a Siberian weapons base in Russia. These are all locations based in countries that are constantly being predicted to go into World War 3. But again, none of this is ever alluded to in the game, however, and just seems to be typical levels to go through, point at something you want dead, and pull the trigger.

The reason why throwing all these symbols in your face is a flawed tactic of gaining recognition or “warning the public” of something dangerous is because of 2 things. 1, it comes off as pretentious and feels like one is cashing in on Conspiracy theories to draw in fans. 2, because there is no context. Context would be putting everything you have into a perspective that conveys a meaning of some sort, usually influencing the message or effect. Like say how does the Mayan Calender fit into the plot beyond just being a gate? Is there some sort of alien invasion planned in 2012? No, it’s just there. If you wanted to hand out symbols to tell people something, it damn well better serve the plot to convey the message. That’s putting symbols into context. There’s no context for the Radio Stations going crazy with it’s NWO mantras, it’s just there. The “I pet goat video”, lots of shit thrown together with little to no cohesion to make sense of anything. I still don’t know what the fuck the little kid in the angel costume is supposed to mean. Or the hippie Jesus spittin dat fire. Why is the Tri-Force from Zelda modeled after one of the many symbols of the Ku Klux Klan? Did them crackas love making wishes or something?

All of it just seems to be there for the sake of making audiences go “wow, these authors sure did their homework! I respect them for their largely arbitrary contributions to my internet/movie/gaming entertainment!”

Movie makers seem to be better with their symbolism/messages than game developers. Putting symbols into context creates sometimes subtle or non-subtle metaphors for the real world. Look at Avatar. Actually, don’t.

Now, a lot of you may disagree, but the only video game (that I have played) which puts that symbolism into context….. would be DmC. That “dreaded” reboot. Now, the majority of it’s story is steeped in a demon who basically plays RedShield and controls the world through debt and deception, constantly has 24/7 surveillance on everyone, has soft drinks that shut down your cognitive processes, dumbing you down, and has faux news stations that lie and deceive to achieve a political consensus of what’s right and wrong. All of it is steeped in NWO conspiracy. It may be shit writing, but all of this is actually put into context and is actively challenged throughout the game.You actually have a hand in destroying the News, taking down the soft drink factory, etc. All of this to “awaken the people” and liberate them from devil dude’s rule (only for Vergil to be an ass and take his place, of course). While a commercial flop, it had a better chance of making people think than would Conduit or I Pet Goat II. Drop your pitch forks and Dues Ex retorts. I’m positive that series does it even better, but that’s aside the point.

When you create context with the symbolism you’ve gathered, you have a much more effective message for your audience to scarf down on. Just putting out the symbolism achieves nothing but a mere sigh and a passing interest. You always need a point to get across for symbolism to work.

And before you comment, yes, I know the Triforce came from the Hojo Clan of the Sengoku Period. You ain’t the only bitches who played Samurai Warriors.