Ready Player One: Levels of Reality

  • Valentina Romanzi Università di Bergamo
Keywords: Utopian Fiction, Dystopian Fiction, Nostalgia, Geek Culture


In this paper, I would like to address the way in which the three levels of reality (utopian, dystopian, and retrotopian) in Steven Spielberg’s movie Ready Player One catalyse the plot and allow for a reflection on the role of nostalgia in our contemporaneity.
Following Zygmunt Bauman’s definition of retrotopia as a leaning towards the past in search of the ideal society, I argue that the metafictional references scattered throughout the movie represent well the contemporary need to evoke the past and seek refuge in it through the assimilation of pop culture of the 80s and 90s. Moreover, I argue that the movie allows for a critique of the categories of utopia and dystopia, highlighting their intricate relationship and their nuanced meaning, and advocating for a shift of our attention towards the issues of the present.