You may not know it, but you’re supposed to already hate Ready Player One. The novel, written by Ernest Cline, was lavishly praised upon its debut for its clear-hearted geekiness and trip down nostalgia lane. It follows the story of Wade Watts, who must complete a tech billionaire’s quest to save his virtual world from preening corporate overlords and secure its future as well as his own.
Once Steven Spielberg set out to adapt the story as a film, a dissenting minority began to grow louder and louder until their voices have become an overwhelming chorus. To be sure, the book is ripe with flaws—somewhat generic sci-fi characterization, confused gender politics, and a tendency to trip into nostalgia orgasms that solely function as a way to ask, “Remember this thing you love?”
But mostly it’s fine. An entertaining, mindless read even when it gets clunky and bloated.
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The Ready Player One hatred reached its nadir this week, however, when it unveiled its marketing campaign to recreate various iconic movie posters—either part of the sci-fi canon or 80’s geek culture referenced in the book—replacing the original characters with those from RPO. The move was swiftly met with outrage. Dorkly’s Articles Editor, Tristan Cooper, considered them “a form of assault.” His views were the general consensus.
You can check the full poster list at SlashFilm.
South Park memorably parodied the widespread cultural phenomenon with its “Member Berries” storyline, with its main target being JJ Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens. South Park co-creator Trey Parker also once called Ready Player One “the most member berry thing ever.”
While the criticism is over the top, it has inspired some worthwhile parodies. Among them is The Good Place writer Demi Adejuyigbe’s “rejected theme song” he wrote for the movie. Also, voice actor and YouTube personality SungWon Cho released a funny spoof of Ready Player One’s admittedly nonsensical first trailer.
True, it’s fun to joke about things online. But honestly, people already hating a movie that isn’t even out yet? Sure, most of it’s misdirected ire aimed at the source material of the book, but they’re two separate works. One is a book by Ernest Cline, the other a movie directed by Steven Speilberg, the master of pop art films. Chances are Ready Player One will be better than this criticism would have you believe.