Strong female characters are such a huge influence to me and the world I see rising up around me. The representation is so inspiring. Working in a bookstore for years and having customers ask for recommendations from my male coworkers because my own “probably aren’t up to their standards” cuts me down.
Being the women trying to fit into a culture where women get pushed aside or criticized for menial things such as not being a true fan of something, or not belonging is actively hurtful. So that representation helps bring me back up again.
But straight white women are not the only people who deserve that honor.
Ready Player One was a book shone light on what it’s like to be a queer woman of color. H struggled with being accepted to the point where she decided to make a male avatar to help improve the ease of access to basic social rights, such as equal pay and respect, as well as just being more widely accepted. In the movie, this was completely removed.
The pivotal scene with Wade and H meeting for the first time was cut and briefly replaced with a cheap knockoff with Art3mis and H. The reason this scene was important is that it gave H the stage to express why she had disguised herself online and give a stage for an important dialogue.
Other characters were robbed of their chance to make a stance as well. In the book, Shoto and Dijo were inseparable and both struggled with extreme depression that kept them locked in their rooms. In Japan, this is referred to as a Hikkiomori. They are people who rarely, if ever, leave their room due to overwhelming anxiety or a variety of other mental health obstacles. This was also completely removed from the movie. Instead, they made them background characters who shared no connection with no story given to them whatsoever.
My final complaint is with the casting for the movie, which clearly left something to be desired. Almost every character was described in the book as being a little chubby, slightly overweight, or having blemished skin. The classical image of someone who you would think spent most of their time playing a video game, or even just the more typical teenager. The actors that they chose were thin and flawless, aside from the strawberry birthmark that they left on Art3mis. This perpetuates the idea that people need to strive to attain the standard image of beauty and stole away the spotlight for those people who honestly look more like the average human.
The positive feedback I’ve heard is how they made Art3mis a stronger character which made Wade seem less gross in his unyielding attempt to date her. For me this wasn’t about lifting Art3mis up, it was about cleaning up the “white knight” gamer guy who had consent issues. Wade was written as being problematic because he was problematic. But the movie wiped him clean of all his issues, and in doing so stole the foundation of the marginalized communities that the book actually addressed.