US killers blame 'The Matrix' for shootings

Click to follow
The Independent US

While The Matrix Reloaded, the second installment of the hit science fiction series, is breaking box office records around the world, lawyers around the United States are starting to use a novel excuse for people – especially young, mentally disturbed people – who commit murder.

Call it the Matrix Defence. While The Matrix Reloaded, the second installment of the hit science fiction series, is breaking box office records around the world, lawyers around the United States are starting to use a novel excuse for people – especially young, mentally disturbed people – who commit murder.

Essentially the line is: I can't be guilty, because this isn't reality and we live in a computer-simulated world just like the one depicted in the film.

It is being used by Josh Cooke, 19, from Virginia, who calmly shot his parents in their family basement in February and then phoned police to say what he had done. In two other recent cases, one in Ohio and the other in San Francisco, defendants have been found not guilty by reason of insanity after claiming they thought they were living in the Matrix.

It is not unusual for violent criminals to identify with popular culture – bank robbers often take inspiration from heist movies like Point Blank, and there is evidence that the destroyers of the World Trade Centre were fans of Independence Day – but The Matrix appears to have a special hold.

The Matrix Reloaded took $93.3m (£59m) in the US in its opening weekend, the biggest to date for an R-certificate film – which requires an adult to accompany under-17s. It opens in Britain tomorrow.

Comments