The Action-Packed Ready Player One Trailer Isn’t Quite What I Imagined…Mostly Because I Imagined Aech and Art3mis In It

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Warner Brothers debuted the new trailer for Ready Player One, the Spielberg-directed adaptation of Ernest Cline’s novel, at San Diego Comic-Con. It’s action-packed and often beautiful, with epic car races and crashes, a Iron Giant battle, and pop culture IP ranging from Lord of the Rings to Akira to Back to the Future. I’m super excited to see Steven Spielberg direct another big, special-effects blockbuster whose plot seems perfect for his sensibilities, but…where were Art3mis and Aech?

(Okay, yeah, I assume Art3mis was the one on the bike, but…)

I know that they’re trying to set up the premise of the movie, and I know that Wade is our viewpoint character; I’m sure the marketers have at least thought through their strategy on this one. But I’d really hoped they wouldn’t paint the virtual reality in this movie as some sort of dude-centric fantasyscape. Like, this trailer spends a ton of time on a giant car race, and none of it on either the plot/quest, the female lead/romantic interest, or the protagonist’s best friend. That felt weird to me.

Plus, this loner-white-dude vision of the internet is a harmful stereotype, and one of my favorite things about Ready Player One was the way it made plenty of room to celebrate white dude nerds without needing to pretend that women and people of color aren’t also playing video games, collecting geek ephemera, and living digital lives. I had hoped, given the conversations about diversity in Hollywood, that the trailer might similarly play up that element of the plot. But no.

“I live here in Columbus, Ohio,” Wade tells the audience. “In 2045, it’s still ranked the fastest-growing city on Earth. But it sure doesn’t seem like it when you live in the stacks. They called our generation the ‘missing millions’ – ‘missing’ not because we went anywhere. There’s nowhere left to go: nowhere except The OASIS. It’s the only place that feels like I mean anything, a world where the limits of reality are your own imagination.”

If only the limits of our own world’s imagination didn’t stop at “women of color playing virtual reality games.” Because then I would have gotten to see Lena Waithe (yeah, that Lena Waithe – the hilarious woman who plays Denise on Master of None) playing first-person shooter games in this trailer.

Obviously, this is just a trailer. It doesn’t mean that the movie itself won’t feature these women prominently, and that footage undeniably does its job of making me interested in this movie. But it’s still frustrating that studios are so reluctant to see women characters as assets in their marketing, rather than secrets to hide for later. We want to see more women represented, especially women of color. Come on!

(Via The Verge; image via screengrab)

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