The movie adaptation of Ready Player One is extremely unique. It mixes and mashes a world of references to modern media and successfully creates the feelings of nostalgia and innovation in unison. However, I have a genuine concern that future generations won’t be able to watch the film, let alone enjoy it.
Ready Player One’s author, Ernest Cline, loved the 80’s, which is where he drew most of the movie’s references from. The film’s director, Steven Spielberg, obviously had some creative leniency and inserted some of his favorites from the 90’s. The problem here is that at some point in time every reference to 80’s and 90’s culture and media is going to figuratively ‘whoosh’ over the entire audience’s head.
The youngest generation we study in 2018 is Gen Z. I am a Gen Y or a millennial. Your parents and grandparents would probably fall under Generation X and the Baby Boomers. We don’t know what we would call the future generation of media digesters but for the sake of this article, I’ll just refer to them as kids in the future. So, hypothetically if a kid from the future picked up a copy of Ready Player One from their dad’s Netflix queue (assuming Netflix is still around), how much would he or she appreciate the movie?
These future generations may live in a world where virtual reality is commonplace and could find the parallel between the movie and their current technological and cultural climate fascinating. But would the kid from the future notice that Art3mis’ bike is from the 1988 Japanese Animated Film “Akira”? Hell, I thought the bike was from Tron until a couple of hours into watching Ready Player One’s special features on the 4K Blu-Ray disc (yes future kid, 4K Blu-Ray was a thing). Anyway, let’s dive into the cultural references I noticed that aren’t so obvious and their potential future implications.
If you read The Watchmen graphic novel, you probably have a great appreciation for comic books as a medium of storytelling. Not to mention that you’re totally cool in my book.
Early in the movie when Parzival, the dude who created the game that the film is based in, explains the notion of artifacts and their importance in the Oasis, you see a player in a mech suit of sorts. Except the mech suit has the classic blue shoulder pads with stars donned by the Comedian.
The Comedian is one of the Watchmen who dressed in red, white, and blue to represent his patriotism. However, he never had a mech suit. That means that this armor was designed to look like the Comedian’s costume. Was this in-game avatar inspired by the comic book or film rendition of the Comedian?
See how this is already becoming a tier three meme in of itself? To me, it looks more like the film rendition of the comedian, as the head inside the mech has the comedian’s signature cigar and haircut, which is associated with the movie. The reason I caught this reference is not only because I’m the resident comic book nerd here at Metahuman Entertainment, but also because I read a graphic novel from way before my time. How would some kid in the future watching the film catch this? The answer is he or she probably wouldn’t.
Jurassic Park is one of those movies that can hold its own even in 2018 when CG technology has rendered it obsolete in every possible way. In case you didn’t realize just by looking at it, the T-Rex terrorizing the racers in the first challenge in Ready Player One, is from the Jurassic Park Film series.
Some kid in a future generation might just think, “Oh cool, a T-REX,” which is understandable. Jurassic Park is from the 90’s so the T-Rex cameo is more of a nod to director Steven Spielberg, rather than Ready Player One’s author Ernest Cline’s love of the 80’s.
I don’t know much about Godzilla, except that it’s a giant lizard monster that pillages Japan from time to time. The King of Monsters has been destroying buildings and fending off armies since the freaking 60’s.
When Ready Player One’s antagonist, Nolan Sorrento, dons a Mechagodzilla armor boost upgrade during the film’s big battle scene, you probably think it’s pretty dope. It breathes blue fire, can shoot missiles from its hands, and it looks so very badass. But is it based off of Godzilla or an actual mech version of the Japanese cultural icon?
I had to do a bit of Googling, but it turns out that there were, in fact, Mechagodzilla appearances in Godzilla films in 1974, 1993, and even 2002. Do you remember that last one? I sure don’t. Unfortunately, there were some differences between Ready Player One’s Mechagodzilla and the actual Mechagodzilla’s from the Japanese Cult favorite film series. Tsk, Tsk.
If a millennial like me is already having a hard time remembering Godzilla, then it would only be a matter of time before a kid from the future wouldn’t have a clue as to what inspired Nolan’s battle mod.
The more recent cultural references
Location’s themselves prove to be pop culture throwbacks in Ready Player One’s ‘the Oasis’. The classic horror movie, The Shining, makes up a game level for one of the main keys and Minecraft alone makes up its own world. A few even fresher references include Master Chief and his squadron (Halo), Overwatch’s Tracer marching into the final battle, and Batman who you can scale Mount Everest with.
Let’s not forget Alfred who is also from the Batman legacy, who plays the curator- I mean Jeeves plays the curator. But if you dig deeper, like back to 1930’s deep, you’ll find the movie “Thank You, Jeeves!” According to Google, the curator was based on the late Arthur Treacher’s role as Jeeves in that movie. Interesting stuff.
It’s amazing what you learn when you dig through the pop culture archives. Hopefully, this article is all that the kids from the future will need to appreciate the movie. In the distant future, you can probably beam a decade’s worth of pop culture by date range, entertainment medium, and popularity before going through the ancient archives. Either way, I think it’s worth asking questions now.