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You’re Already Wrong. The Cultural Touchstones of “Ready Player One” Aren’t the Ones You Think
Forget pop cultural references to King Kong and the Iron Giant, Steven Spielberg has uncannily foretold the rise of the #MarchForOurLives generation.
Nostradamus could have directed the new science fiction movie “Ready Player One”. Based on the novel by Ernest Cline (also co-screenwriter along with Zak Penn) it tells the story of a dystopian future so bleak its inhabitants escape to a virtual reality world called OASIS.
Characters from pop culture, like Freddy Kruger or Mechagodzilla, populate this cyber environment. Humans interact through cartoon avatars; representations of themselves as famous robots, or monsters, or anime characters.
Often, Steven Spielberg frames his stories through the POV of the noble child; the one within ourselves that we lost, and the one who will be wiser than we were. “Ready Player One” is no departure.The hero Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) and his High Five pals are teens or pre-teens who are tasked to save the world.
Ready Player One has been in the can for months. In that time, our world and its cultural touchstones have changed. On February 14, 2018, 17 lives were lost in a massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida at the hands of a former student with an automatic weapon.
It’s been less than two months and the young survivors have been fighting back against the NRA and their political acolytes. They held the March For Our Lives rally that filled the streets of our nation’s capital and cities and small towns across the country.
Teens and pre-teens fighting their dystopian adult enemies had become a trope at best and pandering at worst in films like “The Hunger Games,” and “The Divergent series”. Now, I don’t know an adult who hasn't transferred their hopes for substantive changes in gun laws onto the teenage Parkland survivors.
Ready Player One has uncannily prescient moments. When one of the High-Five gang, Sho (Philip Zhao), is revealed to be, not an adult, but a “bad ass 11-year-old” I couldn’t help thinking of the poised 11-year-old Naomi Wadler who spoke at the DC March For Our Lives rally. Later, Sho asks rhetorically if he should wear a sign that says 'I’m 11 shoot me first'.
At another point, the main villain, Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), a blend of David Miscavige and Trump, is castigated by his evil cohort, F'Nale Zandor (Hannah John-Kamen) for being afraid. They're children, F'Nale says, you're the adult. This reminded me of the taunts the Parkland survivors have faced in social media from the gun lobby supporters for being know-nothing children.
Later, Sorrento battles the High-Five gang in OASIS. The teens scoff at the gray-haired bad guy. Good luck they say, this is their world.
In our world, Fox News host Laura Ingraham mocked Parkland survivor David Hogg on Twitter because he “whines”. Hogg responded:
"Soooo @IngrahamAngle what are your biggest advertisers ... Asking for a friend. #BoycottIngramAdverts,"
— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) March 29, 2018
Ingraham announced she’s taking a week off from her show following an exodus of advertisers.
Twitter is their world.
Ready Player 2018
David Hogg delivered a fiery speech filled with gun control talking points akin to a progressive politician’s campaign speech...