The Oasis and Beyond


As a large group, reflect on the following video featuring writer Mark O’ Connell, author of “Watching Skies: Star Wars, Spielberg and Us.”

What is the core value of the American Cinema of the 1980s that Mark addresses? Furthermore, how does this connect to your understanding of media?


Teacher’s Note:

In reference to the conversation with author Mark O’Connell based on his writing “Watching Skies: Star Wars, Spielberg and Us,” his assertion of knowing America based on the movie experience of the 70s and 80s, speaks to the cultural context of popular film. As the most globally accessible form of narrative and visual storytelling, Hollywood cinema has always been grounded within socio-political realms. At times reaffirming, challenging or neutral, cinematic narratives within the framework of genre shapes a cultural understanding of who we are and how we see the world at a particular time. As such, the study of media and popular culture, is a social science.

In the video below from the Catholic Film Reader, Dr. Anne Lancashire speaks to popular film as an artifact that “rises from the political.’ Its within her definition of popular film that Mark’s reflections are pressing and relevant. Through Hollywood narratives, accessible globally, a particular America is being constructed and represented. The America in film, reflective of lived reality, can change and evolve over time.



As such, its imperative not to dismiss media artefacts such as American popular film as merely entertainment as the product allows for the dissemination of ideas; building knowledge and a value set. It’s within this context that mass media shapes ideological meaning and acts as a form of colonization; knowledge construction. In colonizing the British movie and television screens, the American product shapes and presents a dominant culture value. This is overtly political and as evident with recent NAFTA negotiation between Canada and the United States is of cultural significance. Urgently, one main topic of contention was the possibility to allow American broadcasters such as NBC to buy a Canadian network or other media affiliates. This is very much about cultural sovereignty; recognizing the importance of voice and point-of-view.

As such, it’s important to be critical viewers who recognize meaning and question it’s potential motivations:

  • What ideas are being constructed?
  • Are the ideas being constructed grounded in truth?
  • Who is the author?


As a class, watch Ready Player One.

As students watch the film, reflect on the relationship between the “real world and mediated world.”

What are the realities of both worlds?

Prior to watching the film, individually read the article below and reflect on your understanding of genre.

As a Science Fiction film, Ready Player One is grounded in not only the fears and anxieties of technology but the circumstance of human behaviour.

‘Ready Play One’ Has an Important Message About Not Just Virtual Reality, But Reality Itself


In watching the film as a large group, listen to the interview below featuring Zak Penn, the co-screenwriter of Ready Player One.

  • How does he define Science Fiction film?
  • What does he say about popular culture?

Recognizing the ideas shared in the film, reading provided and interviews, what connection can be made between the film and the pressing issue of “Real and Fake News.”

In small groups, students explore the idea of truth in Ready Player One.

  • If you’re Wade in Ready Player One, what do you have to do when faced with a particular “truth.”

Students share reflections in large group conversation. Students are encouraged to make reference to specific scenes etc.

Teacher’s Note:

How to Spot Fake News

In reference to the graphic above developed by The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), the journey embarked by Wade and consequently his friends in both the real world and the Oasis, speaks to the complexity of truth. It’s in searching for the keys that Wade must decipher truth both within the real world (Holliday’s personal experience) and the Oasis (not only the location of the keys but the importance of recognizing the dangers of the mediated world).

Wade is in conflict with the Hyper-Real  (distinguishing between the real world and the fake world).

As such, Wade in his journey of searching for truth, must decode lies and constructed realities. This very much speaks to the realities of Fake News and the need to be a critical consumer. Ultimately, Wade is a critical consumer who has the ability to “see” what others don’t. He takes time to be well-read, research, knows Holliday’s perspective, searches deeper for truth (clues) and understands motivations.

Specifically, Wade very much follows the infographic above in decoding reality.

Special Thanks:

Special thanks are extended to Zak Penn and Mark O’Connell for taking the time to Skype and dialogue with Communications Technology students at Chaminade College School and for allowing the use of the recorded conversation for this shared lesson.