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TOPIC: What PLAYER ONES are you READYING?

What PLAYER ONES are you READYING? 08 Mar 2018 13:32 #265060

I am a child of the 80s. I graduated high school in '86, putting me in peak 80s mindset. Star Wars hit in '77, as I was 9, and it was absolutely my jam. I had a C64, I rode my bike to the grocery to play Asteroids, I got laid listening to Depeche Mode and The Police. I played D&D, I memorized Monty Python, I had a Doctor Who scarf (my sister crocheted for me).

Yet by the time Ready Player One came out, Geek "Culture" had long passed me by. As much love as I have for elements from my childhood, as much as I still listen to mixtapes I made in 1985 and re-read the 1978 Godzilla comics from Marvel, the fetishization of not only that time period but of fandom itself had alienated me to the point where I wondered if playing video games, playing board games, owning tons of Lego (I keep meaning to pick up again) and re-watching Dune (1984) even still qualified me as a nerd. It seemed like a book equivalent of a two-things shirt, a bunch of thrown out references disguised as a plot. It didn't seem like something I'd be interested in, so I gave it a pass and didn't think much about it, except when others would tell me I should read it.

Of course, the movie is coming out now and everyone is abuzz about it. My curated Twitter feed mostly consists of backlash against it, such so that it's weird because I don't see anyone actually standing up for it, so it seems like just a big dogpile. I know I have one friend who's mad about all the RPO hate as he thought it was a fun read and feels that the "just a list of references" criticism is tired and lazy.

I stumbled across a podcast called 372 Pages We’ll Never Get Back!, hosted by Mike Nelson and Conor something from RiffTrax (Mike also from MST3K, another big nerd thing that I like fine, but Clearly Not Enough) in which they're dissecting RPO. I've enjoyed these sorts of things in the past, in which one blogger analyzed the Left Behind series and another did it with Atlas Shrugged. In those analyses, it wasn't just "lol, this sucks" but really getting into the text and, especially in the Left Behind case, analyzing the philosophies informing the texts and how they influence and are influenced by portions of the fan base. Very interesting stuff, so I tuned in to see the same thing possibly applied to RPO.

What I've come away with is that the criticism of RPO is limited to "just a list of references" and "lol this sucks" because there is seemingly nothing more to say about it. There's nothing else there. The plot really is just a delivery system of "remember this?" with nothing animating it. None of the items referenced are analyzed or appraised, they are simply summoned and dismissed. In fact, the emphasis seems to always be on rote repetition, memorization, and mechanical mastery, nothing more. No meaning is ascribed to any of these things.

Mike and Conor are just fucking bamboozled by the sheer pointlessness of it all, but for me, who's been in the nerd pool all his life, it's a fascinating look at nerd "culture" which has no idea it's a fascinating look at nerd "culture". (Trust me; there is no self-awareness going on for Cline. None of this is intended ironically or satirically. He is not that capable of a writer.) It's a celebration of, among other things, the music and culture of the 80s that never mentions, for example, hip-hop, Michael Jackson, or Madonna. The whole thing is a scathing indictment of the vast wasteland that is this field, believing it's lifting up and honoring it. I can't imagine reading this and not being hugely offended by it either by what it's really saying or by how little it thinks of you, the reader.

I don't know if there are RPO fans here or not. If so, uh, oops. Either way, the podcast is interesting, though Mike's voice and his soft chuckle are weird and off-putting.
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What PLAYER ONES are you READYING? 08 Mar 2018 13:39 #265061

My 11 year old son read and loved it. He wanted me to read it before the movie.

I'm trying...

It really is a list of things with no character development at all. The only characterization the main dude has is that whatever 80s thing he lists, he's studied for 100s of hours and memorized every frame/scene/line/stage/pattern/etc.

When I finish this later in the week, it will be the worst book I have ever completed. Usually if a book is bad, I bail, but this is for the boy so forward I proceed.

I actually have hopes the movie will be better. I guess I'm assuming the movie won't have the rights to all these 'things' so Spielberg will fill those holes with...plot?

EDIT: I'm 43 and in a similar demographic with similar childhood to Dave. I guess it reads better to younger people? I dunno... does make me a little embarrassed to wear my Atari shirt now though...
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What PLAYER ONES are you READYING? 08 Mar 2018 13:44 #265062

Saw a great twitter exchange on this, I wish I could find it, it's perfect.

It's basically about using the Iron Giant, which is referenced by RPO the film. The point of the Iron Giant is deeply anti-war, anti-conflict, about love and understanding. It's a wonderful film. Apparently it's presented here as a dangerous dark war machine in the posters.

But this sort of nerd/geek culture of the modern internet strips that *actual* original meaning of art and culture and replaces it with... something else. Often gross. It's like the alt-right guy posting recently about how someone making the book Frankenstein today would "make Frankenstein the victim of the story." Which, of course, is the point of the real book Frankenstein. But for some reason our current era has successfully made work that is specifically about things to mean something else when it references them. Strips them of their inherent meaning through shallow reference.
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What PLAYER ONES are you READYING? 08 Mar 2018 13:45 #265063

Maybe it's overly curmudgeonly of me, but I'm literally embarrassed that Ready Player One even exists.
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What PLAYER ONES are you READYING? 08 Mar 2018 13:54 #265065

Whatever all this nostalgia is (Stranger Things, RPO, Synthwave, IT, NES re-release, etc) it's probably heralding the final years of purchasing influence our (~gen Xers) generation has.

It reminds me of all the 50s facing media in the 80s. Stand By Me, Wonder Years, 30 Something, Back to the Future, etc. All targeted to those born in the 50s. Where's all the media for that demo now? they've aged out of marketing focus.

Same thing is about to happen to us. I guess enjoy this now? Maybe?
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What PLAYER ONES are you READYING? 08 Mar 2018 14:50 #265075

I have no nostalgic leanings whatsoever, to be honest. Maybe video games. I had a shitty childhood strife with adoption, divorce and violent neighborhoods. I don't look back fondly on many things (my best friend, who is still my best friend and his family are almost the totality of it).

The only great things to come out of the 80's were music and film, but I don't really look back on anything but music and wish it could be re-done today. I didn't "get" Stranger Things, for instance. Maybe RPO is something I'd like for the Tron aspect, but honestly, I'll definitely wait to see it at home, and probably fall asleep halfway through.
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What PLAYER ONES are you READYING? 08 Mar 2018 15:10 #265077

In my uninformed opinion, it just looks like a nostalgia-fueled wankfest.
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What PLAYER ONES are you READYING? 08 Mar 2018 15:16 #265079

I don't have any strong opinions on the story itself, but Spielberg has lent surprising gravitas to hacky novels before, and I would not be surprised if he was able to nail it with this movie. I don't have a ton of interest in reading the book, but I definitely feel like the movie has promise.
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What PLAYER ONES are you READYING? 08 Mar 2018 15:34 #265080

I'm in exactly the same boat as Legomancer regarding age, nostalgia, and feeling not nerdy/fanboyish enough (which is an odd feeling, but not something I'm ashamed about). I read RPO after countless recommendations. I mostly hated it, but towards the end they finally made the obscure reference that got to me (Black Tiger video game, which I adored). I ended on a solid meh-- not enough plot, too much nostalgia.

However, I'm shocked that the MST3K guys didn't see any more to discuss there. To me, the whole point of the book was a meta-condemnation of fandom in general. The reason there are so many references to 80s pop culture in the book is because the deceased Willy Wonka creator of The Oasis (the virtual world nearly everyone spends all their time in) was himself overly nostalgic for it. Therefore, to unlock the secrets, all these fanboys decide to obsess over it. None of them have any memory or fondness for this stuff, they just consume it, memorize it, and live it without loving it.

The movie makes it seem like Willy Wonka just died and now there's a mad scramble to find the easter egg. In the book, it had been decades since his passing. There were three (or was it four?) eggs, and only one had been found in the last 20 years. So not only are all these people obsessing about bygone things, but no one even has a living memory of the originals. It's like all of these nerd-enraged fanboys screaming about how The Last Jedi ruined Star Wars, when they weren't even alive when Return of the Jedi *actually* ruined it.

It's not a great book, but I think it did have more to say than just a catalog of references. Maybe people missed it because they didn't like seeing themselves as a target.
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What PLAYER ONES are you READYING? 08 Mar 2018 15:41 #265082

Is the author condemning fandom? Maybe i didn't get to that part yet. There is a photo of the author with (what I assume is) the Back To the Future DeLorean on the back cover.

On the surface he seems to be wallowing in fandom.
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What PLAYER ONES are you READYING? 08 Mar 2018 15:50 #265083

I am readying no player ones because the book is absolute shit.

Even as someone who can get behind some 80s nostalgia, RPO is a near total failure. The writing, characters, plot, pacing, and concepts are across the board awful. What’s left? Nostalgia. That’s fine with me, the first season of Stranger Things treats the nostalgia aspects as part of the universe it takes place in. It’s natural. RPO on the other hand shoves it in your face on *literally* every page. And it’s not just a casual reference, the reference is often explained in case you have no idea what Cline is talking about. It’s shallow nerd bait of the worst kind. The Kool-Aid levels are on an Eclipse scale. I actually read the book the entire way through twice just to try to and gauge if I’m being too cynical, but not only didn’t i find that it actually is complete garbage, I actually hated it more the second time around.

Fuck this book, fuck Ernest Cline, and fuck the people who are it up. Thanks for nothing, dickwads.
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What PLAYER ONES are you READYING? 08 Mar 2018 15:56 #265084

I read the book on a road trip. I was assumed and entertained. It wasn't great, but I didn't find it offensive. I attempted to read Cline's other book, maybe entitled Armada?, It was essentially a rip off the Last Star Fighter and the novelty of 80s nostalgia had worn off, I quit pretty early on.

I am too poor to see films in the theater, but would watch RPO on netflix.
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What PLAYER ONES are you READYING? 08 Mar 2018 15:59 #265085

I got to, like, level 20 in Super Galaga the other day at an arcade (paying for a few extra lives added), and my wife was impressed. That's all the validation I need.
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What PLAYER ONES are you READYING? 08 Mar 2018 15:59 #265086

Mr. White wrote:
Is the author condemning fandom? Maybe i didn't get to that part yet. There is a photo of the author with (what I assume is) the Back To the Future DeLorean on the back cover.

On the surface he seems to be wallowing in fandom.
It is entirely possible that I am projecting a depth onto the book that isn't actually there.
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What PLAYER ONES are you READYING? 08 Mar 2018 16:10 #265088

I saw where someone pointed out that with the "mash up" Iron Giant poster, they are already doing more marketing than they ever did for Iron Giant.

My son REALLY wants to see this. He asks me almost daily "when is Ready Player One coming out?" I have to admit, I thought it was awesome in the theater when he hollered "DADDY IT'S GUNDAM!"

But yeah...this is like everything bad and shitty about nerd/geek culture in one big massive meatball. The only hope there is for it is if Spielberg and the screenwriters take it as an opportunity to drop a gigantic satire bomb on the entire notion of "fandom". Which is probably not going to happen since the book is just an endless stream of pop culture references.

As far as the nostalgia goes...I was thinking about going to see OMD. And it hit me that my going to see OMD now in 2018 was like when my parents went to go see Tom Jones in 1988. We have our own oldies concerts. We have our own Stand By Me. We are getting OLD.
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