I’ve been seeing a few articles come across my dash asking the question: Is Ready Player One Black Panther for White Guys?
My firm answer on this one is: Hell to the na!!!
In all fairness, I did not finish the book, and I am not a hardcore gamer. I play some fighting games from time to time, but I do not classify things I do in my spare time, as an identity. (I like to knit, and consider myself a knitter, but that’s not WHO I am. the difference is subtle.) I can’t say whether or not the film will be successful, if it will hit the number one spot, whether or not gamers will flock to it, whether or not they’ll like the movie if they do. I can say I didn’t care for the book, and I’m unimpressed by Ernest Clines credentials. (I couldn’t finish it because I felt it was very badly written.) On the other hand, if you are the kind of person who identifies as a Gamer, than Ready Player One may be just the book (and movie) for you.
I don’t actually think the movie will be as successful as Black panther, because it simply doesn’t have the numbers to put it in the top spot for more than a week, before its supplanted by something new. I have to admit, the trailers look like fun, because of the pop culture references , and it moves fast, and is brightly colored. There is no depth to the images though. Do you have to be a hard-core nerd to get the movie? Do you have to be fluent in gaming to really enjoy it? Is it too reliant on pop culture Easter eggs for outsiders to enjoy it? I’ve seen some good reviews for it, but I’ve also seen quite a few journalists (all White and male) lauding the movie as the second coming of cinema. I haven’t encountered any women reviewers who claimed to love it.
—-However, as the movie’s gotten closer to release, some fans have taken to claiming that this movie is for nerds and gamers in the same way that Marvel’s Black Panther has been for black people in terms of impact.…Ready Player One will not be Black Panther for nerds, because they’re not even operating in the same star system, let alone the same level of ambition and thematic depth. It serves no favors to Player One in particular, given the distaste that appears to have grown around the original book and the film’s marketing. If for no other reason, it’s a good idea to keep Panther out of Player One’s sights, because coming at the King will all but guarantee a miss.
You guys know about my suspicions on journalistic integrity,especially when it comes to movie reviews, so let’s just say I’m giving these reviews the side eye. Hell, for all I know its a very fun and diverting movie, but RPO does not possess cultural relevance for anybody but the White dudes lauding it (and maybe people who read the book). It looks to me like the same old “mediocre White guy saves the world” type of plot, that we’ve always gotten, and the hype surrounding it seems like more of the backlash against Black Panther, and claiming this run of the mill movie is going to unseat BP, sounds. to me, like just another way of signalling their resentment of the other one’s success.
Letitia Wright is in the movie. In what role, I’m not certain, but if you’re a fan of the actress, you may want to check it out, and report back to let us know what’s up. I had no plans to see this movie, because its release is too close to Pacific Rim, and I only have so much money to spend. I ‘ll watch it when it comes to Netflix, or Amazon, and I’ll probably enjoy it, but the reaction from White fans here is very little different from when White fans lauded Wonder Woman as the second coming of the feminist action film, claiming it to be more than it is, when is really no more than what we always had. (In my opinion, THE feminist action movie was Mad Max: Fury Road.)
As the above article states, White gaming fans don’t need representation, as the hobby itself has gone fully mainstream, and White males, 18-34, have always been catered to when it comes to pop culture, so there’s no more social relevance to be had from this movie, than Pixels, and nostalgia for when the terms multiculturalism, inclusion, and diversity were not topics anyone thought about.
So reviewers…just stop it!
No, this movie isn’t some big win for the culture of gaming. Its not that deep.
People are going to go see it. They may even thoroughly enjoy it, but culturally, the movie means nothing, and will have no more lasting impact, in a culture that regularly serves up a movie just like it, at least once or twice a month. No one is going to be writing hundreds of think pieces about the meaning behind its images, and ultimately, no matter how much fun it will be, it won’t really mean anything. And that’s okay, too.