Saturday, December 30, 2017

59. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I picked this up at the behest of my brother-in-law and nephew, who both quite enjoyed it.  Interestingly, there seems to have been some snooty critique of Ready Player One by some whom I follow on Google+ and generally trust.  So I was a bit torn, but the appeal of easy reading won me over.  I have to say that it is a thoroughly entertaining read and people who poo-poo it because it has a lot of obvious 80s references need to get over themselves.  This was just straight-up cartoony, post-apocalyptic nerd fantasy and quite a page-turner.

This whole 80s thing is quite odd to me.  It's kind of cool because it makes me feel sort of special at a time in my life when all the glory is behind one, but it is also really puzzling.  The 80s were a time of cultural desperation.  It's not really something I would ever want to go back to.  As a kid, you were constantly looking for something cool and interesting and even if you had the money, which you rarely did, you couldn't find anything cool anyways. There was like one cool record store within any reach and it was usually in a city far away.  There were gaming and comic book stores, but they were hard to get to.  You could find out stuff on cool college and public radio stations but it was almost impossible to be able to actually get your hands on it (thus we recorded the actual radio shows and traded cassette tapes of them).  This was one issue I had with Stranger Things, the kids had all the cool stuff.  It just so was not like that.  One kid had a cool movie poster and all the other kids would be super jealous of it.  In Stranger Things, the kids rooms each have a perfectly curate museum of 80s cultural artifacts.

I wonder if a lot of the appeal today is precisely because it was a time when the search for culture was as important as the culture itself.  Today, it's the opposite where you can get every music, book, movie or videogame within seconds.  Maybe today's youth have a nostalgia for that search.  It was cool, I made friends because of it and checked into neat scenes.  But you have to understand there was also a lot of sitting through shit and boredom, listening to the worst AOR pop metal crap every single day on the school bus or your classmates seeing your King Sunny Ade album and saying "is it funny?".  I walk into a restaurant today and they could be playing some really cool minimalist electronic music or some bangra dub or whatever.  That never happened in the 80s.  Today, D&D is like an industry way to become a screenwriter.  Back in the 80s, mothers were burning your books and protesting after school programs because of the devil.  Don't get too nostalgic, people.

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