I remember reading the novel as part of a local book club, and I remember liking it. There’s not much else in my mind about it, just a warm blanket of references to wrap myself in. What, with all the feel goodness that comes with being “in” on the jokes…Who wouldn’t like that? Well, anyone who doesn’t care about pop culture or isn’t trapped in a cultural sweet spot that ranges from 1980-1997, I guess a problematic story knitted with references is the kind of cultural blanket that might leave your ass out.
Achievement Unlocked: It’s 2018.
But the book was written BEFORE the great wave of algorithm-driven Netflix series and the rebirth of the synth sound that made so much music from the 80’s great. Leaving the movie, I felt energized. Cynics are going to hate it, but that was a FUN movie. Straight weird 80’s adventure, but from the future. I’m being naive. I should be more upset about the problematic parts. But how problematic was it really? White male hero again—problematic. Gamer girl as digital manic pixie dream avatar—problematic. The message that a facial birthmark makes someone awful to look at—problematic. Using the Iron Giant as a weapon after he clearly states “I am not a gun” in his own movie—problematic.
But UGHHH, all the references, the music, the action, the Spielbergness of it all…I feel so full and satisfied, like I just ate a feast of Taco Bell.
Then again, the idea of taking refuge in a digital world is so depressing, albeit understandable. Not to mention totally happening for some people. But also, how fucked up is it that once Parzival is rich and in love he’s going to force everyone to deal with the shitty world two days a week?
Achievement unlocked: Emotional ambivalence
No one should be allowed to drive after seeing Ready Player One. It’s like Grand Theft Auto in that way. I just want to drive off the road, but in a good way. Get it together, reality is not a video game. JFC I sound like a parent. Maybe I’ll just speed a little.
Achievement unlocked: Evolutionary mismatch
What is it about the Oasis? Obviously it’s the allure of being anything you want, so that’s a dumb question. I think what I mean is, Halliday hated rules, and it seems like there are no real guiding principles about the Oasis other than the generally logical rules surrounding earning currency and losing that currency, along with whatever game rules might be in play. But other than that, it’s a benevolent anarchy. Obviously there is fuckery, just look at TJ Miller’s character—who we never meet IRL and that’s a shame because I want to know what he’s hiding or who he is to be such a master douche (besides being TJ Miller)—but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of trolling in the Oasis. Why is that?
Did humanity really just decide that the real world was such shit that they decided to start over and do it right this time? How does that work, and how awesome is that? Or, are there dumpster fires all over the Oasis, but we aren’t seeing any of them because this particular story takes priority because of the competition and possible destruction of the Oasis as a benevolent anarchy? Anyway, I hope it really is just a lovely place and doesn’t have any 4Chan/Westworld pockets hiding anywhere.
Achievement Unlocked: Does Rule 34 Exist in The Oasis?
It’s wild having watched Ready Player One in the time AFTER the great Facebook data breach of 2018. The Oasis is a free service, and yet NO ONE is collecting data from the occupants? How much could you learn about someone from what they do in-game? In the world of Ready Player One, I guess not much because none of the characters seem to know anything about each other, which means no Google searching, no Facebook stalking, no accidentally liking an Instagram post from four years ago. In fact, it’s hard to tell if there’s an internet outside of the Oasis. God, that’s even more depressing.
No wonder no one in the stacks can catch a break—how would they even begin to get information about jobs, learn how to put together a resume, or ask a broad audience for tips on interviewing? I don’t mean to sound all eat your vegetables but in making such a monument to the 80’s, good times, and himself, Halliday inadvertently created history’s greatest bread-and-circus. Get to work on your society, inhabitants of Ready Player One!
Achievement Unlocked: Fogey
Ok, it was fun. But I am part of the same problem that plagued the people of the actual world in Ready Player One, closing my eyes to what’s really happening because I’m entranced by references. Thinking is the absolute worst. Maybe it can be both fun AND problematic. I’ll post a status update when I get home, and hopefully someone on Facebook tells me that’s ok.
Achievement Unlocked: Uncertain Duality