I love Ernie Cline‘s book “Ready Player One”, first and foremost you should know that before reading further. It meant something special to me the first day I read (and finished, because I seriously couldn’t put the damn thing down) it, and it’s more so now I think. If you didn’t appriciate the novel for what it was and like bad mouth it, you’re probably going to have a bad time reading the rest of this.
What I mean when I say haters are wrong about their panning of “RP1”:
I do not subscribe to this asinine notion that the book celebrates toxic gamer culture, or that ‘women are prizes to be won’, or that celebrating the 80’s is stupid. YOU’RE stupid, and it sounds like you haven’t read the same book.
Seriously, there are no shortage of people on the internet (gasp) who have claimed those things about the book, and even the film adaptation which they haven’t even seen yet. If one of these complaints is about “I didn’t care for x part in the book,” or “it just didn’t speak to me”, that’s totally fine, and completely understandable. There are tons of things that I don’t care for that are extremely popular right now, like Big Bang Theory and Lana del Rey, but minus one or two moments of extreme duress, I won’t call lovers of those things idiots, scum, and much much worse.
Let’s start by talking about the ‘celebrating toxic gamer culture’ point. Celebrating? No. Touching on the prevalence of bullies and those who pick on lower level and/or poorer gamers? Yes, because that’s part of the point of the freaking story.
Main character Wade Watts and his avatar Parzival (played in the film by Tye Sheridan) is poor, and a low level character in the gamer-culture world of the OASIS *because* he’s poor. It’s mentioned a bunch of times in the narrative, if he had monies, he’d upgrade everything his avatar possesses.
But because he doesn’t have funds, he can’t travel, and can’t engage in quests to level up. (Even though sometimes he does hitch rides with Aech, but he can’t quest in the same high level areas because again, low level.) He talks about being ridiculed for this fact, and the time he was bullied by character iRok (played in the film by TJ Miller) when it was discovered that Parzival was farming level 1 creatures to get a miniscule amount of XP.
Celebrating the joys gaming can bring to someone, that’s more accurate. The friends you can make by playing, the connections you can make, that type of thing.
‘Women as prizes‘. I’m not even joking, this is something I’ve seen posted several times in the last few months on various internet places. I’m not sure how to handle this topic specifically because there is a reveal in the book, that I don’t want to ruin for non readers before they get to it, or for film goers who are going into it cold. So, we’ll just talk about Samantha Cook, aka Art3mis (played by Olivia Cooke in the film).
Art3mis is her own person, a force of nature in The OASIS. She’s stronger than almost all the male characters you meet throughout the story. She’s competitive, her knowledge of relevant Halliday info is right up there, rivaling everyone other than Parzival really.
Calling her a prize? I don’t see how that’s even remotely a thing. The relationship she and Parzival build is not because he wins her, it’s because she wins HIM with her personality and abilities.
There aren’t many stories in this type of vein where the female character has her own motivations that aren’t *really* tied into the main male’s. You could argue that with both of them competing for the same prize (Anorak’s Egg), they are tied, but I don’t think that counts as much for this particular point.
The 80s pop culture references in the book shouldn’t be celebrated. Specifically, several screenwriters, critics, professionals, on twitter complaining about the use of iconography, films, music, and callbacks to a long-gone decade. I firmly feel this complaint falls into two basic reasons.
The first being that the person just really doesn’t like the 80s. Doesn’t ‘get’ the love for the amazing films referenced in the book, or the music mentioned (if you don’t know about it, Ernie created a companion Spotify channel YEARS ago), or the first few video games that brought shy kids out of their houses and into arcades. I personally know several introverts who, through discovering a mutual love of a thing (book, film, cosplay, etc) have come out of their shells to make friends and sometimes life long connections.
That’s a big part of what the story is, even with the trappings of a VR world where nothing is real, the connects you make are. Sure, maybe to some people the 80s is a really strange thing to connect over, but hey, so’s sportsball.
The second type of person is just jealous they didn’t think about writing this particular story first. Yes, I’m looking at YOU screenwriter complaining about a story you don’t think much of, then admitting you wish you’d written it.
Maybe they think the adventure is too basic, or too unbelievable. I can see that, if you have no connection to any of the IPs mentioned in the book. But really, that doesn’t mean it’s bad, that doesn’t mean it’s trash, and that doesn’t mean it’s not super special to someone else. Fandom is something that extremely personal, and telling someone that they’re wrong for loving what they do within fandom is a dick move.
I guess the moral of this piece is it’s never “just” a book, or film, or tv show, or character that a fan loves. You don’t know what a person’s attachment is, what emotions may go into their love or hatred. Remember that before you belittle the thing they treasure, ok?
Also, seeing Ernie (who is exactly the guy you think he is, the ultimate fanboy who wrote Fanboys) get to this point where his first novel’s film adaptation is being directed by Steven freaking Spielberg, is FRAKKING awesome.
Ready Player One hits theaters on March 29th, and the book is easily available on any numerous ereaders and outlets.
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