Hidden Meanings Behind the Movie,
"Ready Player One" (Spoilers)

Reviewed by Joy Ramos Davis

Synopsis: Selected by "Conscious Movie Reviews."  "Ready Player One" is an action and adventure, sci-fi drama set in 2045.  After the death of James "Anorak" Halliday, the trillionaire creator of a vast, virtual universe called "The OASIS," he announced in a pre-taped video through the news that he had hidden within his worlds, three keys to unlock three gates that lead to a Golden Egg.  Whoever finds them would inherit half of his wealth and full control of the OASIS.  The race was on between the egg hunters, known as the "Gunters," and "Sixers" that are a mix of top gamers and indentured servants who represented the corrupt interests of IOI, Innovatie Online Industries, headed by CEO Nolan Sorrento.  As Wade "Parzival" Watts and his team called "The High Five" take the lead to acquire the keys, Sorrento orders his goons to chase them down for complete elimination from the game.     

Warning: Spoilers within the Presentation

The Race is On

Welcome to "Conscious Movie Reviews."  I'm your host Joy Davis and here to review the action and adventure, sci-fi drama, "Ready Player One."  I'll go over the symbolism and emerging trends within the film to explain why the story is a future possibility.

The sudden death of James "Anorak" Halliday in the news showed a pre-taped video message by him at his own mock funeral announcing that he had hidden an Easter Egg in a game within his virtual universe called "The OASIS."  Whoever finds it behind three keys to unlock three magic gates will inherit his vast wealth of $1/2 trillion dollars and control "The OASIS."  

Many egg hunters, known as "Gunters," entered the race, including a group of top gamers and indentured servants, called "Sixers," representing the corrupt interests of IOI, Innovative Online Industries, headed by the nefarious gaming company's CEO, Nolan Sorrento.  His criminal attempts to win at all cost is an example of how technocrats of the future intend to rule over the masses by exploitation and terror.        

Lost and Detached Generations

Obsessed with pop culture from the 1980s, Halliday littered his virtual worlds with many references to those times.  He had died a loner with no friends.

Generation Xers who were born between the years of 1961 - 1981 were described by many as having "lost their way."  They are neither anti-establishment activists nor pro-establishment conformists like the Baby Boomers before them that lived out both extremes.  Steeped in pop culture, many GenXers were relatively detached to be aimless, alienated and confused growing up.  

Today's digital natives are the Millennials and Generation Z who are more willing to accept second-hand experiences online.  As a loner in seclusion, Halliday did the same to understand the world in a second-hand way through pop culture.  Fanboys like to keep collectibles of characters they love from comic books, video games and movies because they relate to them as friends - similar to how girls keep stuffed animals around for their company. 

Children of the "Missing Millions" in "Ready Player One" are to the extreme of previous generations for being comfortable in semi-reality that's constantly shifting between the real to surreal in their minds.  Years of living in virtual reality can leave many so emotionally detached that they break down the mores and laws of society.   Cyberspace will be the new ground for social experimentation.  This is according to Ben Goertzel, a Futurist thinker on "Hyperrealism."       

Was Halliday an Aspie?

It's very likely that Halliday was born with Asperger's Syndrome that is a high-functioning form of Autism, to explain his exceptionally high intelligence as a virtual reality designer with a tendency to isolate from having high social anxiety.  Feeling awkward with a flat personality was another giveaway.

Those with Asperger's feel imprisoned inside a limited world.  They have a strong sense of being shut out and looked down upon by others, so isolating is their way to cope.  Aspies can also be emotionally inflexible, making it hard to relate socially to others.   

The hypersensitive children of today with split attentions reflect the years of assault by high technology on our neuro-sensory system.  Currently,  1 in 59 children are born each year with Autism or Asperger's, and 1 in 20 have ADHD.  Many more suffer from high anxiety and depression, especially by Millennials and Generation Z.  

As we move from the Digital Age to the Robotics Age in 2025, these physical assaults will significantly increase with the introduction of nanobots placed in and around our nerves that can generate encoded symbols for our senses to feel in a virtual world, similar to haptics worn by visitors of "The OASIS".  The threat of getting seizures is greater for anyone immersed too long in video gaming and virtual reality. 

Today's Tom Sawyer

Wade "Parzival" Watts took the lead by earning the Copper key.  He drove backwards with his car as a shortcut to bypass King Kong in the first leg of the race.  The clue came from Halliday's library of video archives when he said, "Things move forward.  Why can't we go backwards for once.  Backwards really fast.  Put the pedal to the metal."  

It was very fitting for Wade to take on the avatar name of "Parzival" because of its association to Percival of Arthurian legend who was on a quest for the Holy Grail.  And, like the Delorean car from the "Back to the Future" movie, he had to drive it backwards to his future goal of getting to the finish line.

Parzival, along with his teammates Aech, Daito, Sho, and new love interest, Art3mis, showed up as the "High Five" - top Gunters on the global scoreboard.  Who they are as a group is described in the lyrics to a song by Rush called "Tom Sawyer": "No, his mind is not for rent to any God or government.  Always hopeful, yet discontent.  He knows changes aren't permanent, but change is..."

Taking the Virtual Leap

The second, Jade key went to Art3mis.  She understood Halliday's fear.  He did not "take the leap" to kiss Kira on their movie date to watch "The Shining."  Parzival was transported virtually to relive the horrific scene in Room 237 from the movie.  He had to fend for himself against the seductively evil woman in the bathtub.  At a ballroom within the Overlook Lodge were dancing zombies.  Upon seeing Kira, Art3mis "takes the leap" towards her that Halliday could never do.   

The entity that threatened Parzival in the lodge represented the ghosts of Halliday's past.  He felt dead inside, like a zombie from being emotionally detached from people and situations as a loner.  Zombies can also suggest the need to run away from something out of fear.  Dancing was a way for Halliday to dance with his fears from the past, but couldn't.  

Planting an Easter Egg

When Sorrento placed a force field around a fortress on Planet Doom where the third key was held, many rebels showed up in response to Parzival's distress call to do battle with the Sixers in order to stop IOI from unfair domination of the OASIS.

The virtual war represented another emerging trend where traditional institutions are taken down and replaced.  In cyberspace, like minded people will band together to create their own local government, their own specialized groups. 

The third, Crystal key went to Parzival from playing "Adventure," an Atari video game.  He realized that the trick was not to win it, but find the Easter Egg that was planted by the game's creator, Warren Robinett.

Historically, the video game programmers of the 1970s had to be creative on demand for companies that kept them anonymous.  The designer of "Adventure" left his mark to prove that "great artists always hid themselves in their work" - a quote taken from Dr. Robert Ford of the "Westworld" TV series.

The Real Easter Egg

The gate opened to reveal a contract for Wade.  He refused, knowing it was a test.  Signing the contract would only repeat a big mistake Halliday had made with Ogden Morrow, his former business partner, to sign over his shares of Gregarious Games.  Splitting with him professionally was Halliday's greatest regret.

When Wade refused an opportunity to push a Big Red Button to shut down the OASIS, Halliday presented him with the prized egg and some words of wisdom that was tinged with regret from being too much in fantasy by saying that escapism is fun, but living in present day reality is even more important.

Meeting Wade helped to fulfill Halliday's innermost desire - to connect with someone who knows his mind and heart in an intimate way.  The real egg for Halliday was his childhood bedroom - a safe space to hide from the pains and terrors of this world, like a return to the womb for his inner child to feel secure.   

Wade took Halliday's wisdom to heart.  The "High Five" became co-owners of the business - hiring Morrow as their consultant.  They freed all of IOI's indentured servants, wiping out their debts, and agreed to keep the OASIS open for only five days a week so that more time can be spent engaging in the real world for everyone's well-being.  


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