It is very trendy to hate on “Ready Player One.”
Steven Spielberg’s upcoming movie has been accused by many of us for pandering to its audience. The book of the same name by Ernest Cline that the film is based upon is a treasure trove of pop-culture references, and it looks like the movie will hit many of the same beats.
The reaction from the vast majority of internet users has been one of disgust.
How dare a movie deliberately try to feature all the things we love?! Why must we endure this film that’s been carefully crafted in an attempt to make us happy?!
This is a good discussion for us to have as an internet culture. So many of our conversations online center around memes and references, that the movie, long before it’s been released, has held up a mirror to our own culture, and we don’t like what we see.
That said, a lot of people are taking this out on “Ready Player One” before the film has even been released.
A new batch of posters that deliberately copy classic movies is enough to earn the film more ire. This story is piggybacking on better films, the argument goes, and the result is a weak, hollow corporate cash grab.
But how can we be sure of this? What right do any of us have to judge a movie before it’s been released?
By all means, if you’ve read the novel “Ready Player One,” feel free to critique it. If you haven’t read it, though, your opinion on its content is inherently lacking — you are parroting the argument that’s fed to you from the internet’s echo chamber, and you’re no better than the behavior you’re railing against.
This is to say nothing of the very important fact that “Ready Player One” the movie is not “Ready Player One” the book.
Many times, stories will go through drastic changes when they’re adapted for the big screen. A piece of fiction can often change beyond recognition, and a director can play with themes and characters to create something totally different.
Look at “The Hunger Games” — the book series deals heavily with themes of post-traumatic stress, survivor’s guilt, and mental illness in the wake of intense trauma. Almost all of this is absent from the movies, which instead double down on the political propaganda aspect of the story.
Here we see two different approaches to the same narrative, based on what different storytellers want to emphasize, even though, on a surface reading, these two texts tell the same story with the same characters.
Little changes to a story can make a big difference to the way it holds together when it goes from the printed page to the big screen. Considering the fact that Steven Spielberg, the master of character-driven visual fiction, is working his magic on “Ready Player One,” this film probably shouldn’t be dismissed in such an offhand manner simply because it features some “Back to the Future” references.
If you’ve seen the trailers for “Ready Player One” and you think it looks pretty cool, then that’s great! Don’t let anybody tell you that you’re wrong for being excited about this film — especially if they haven’t actually seen the movie.
If, on the other hand, you really don’t think you’re going to enjoy the movie, that’s fine too. You don’t have to go see it. Just don’t jump on the hate train for a movie that isn’t released yet, based on some out-of-context quotes from the novel that you’ve seen floating around the internet.