Paper Proposal – Wilson

Buying a Name Brand Utopia

For my final paper I’m working with two literary sources; Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Both novels discuss futuristic worlds where humanity lives, mostly, within a virtual reality because the real world has been destroyed by earlier generations. Both novels are discussions on how we are treating our world and how society, as a whole, ignores the damage we are causing while focusing on personal comfort. Snow Crash was published in 1992 so many of the futuristic ideas in it are extremely outdated but it has a lot of critical essays written about it. Ready Player One was published in 2011 and while the illustration of the possible future is more in line with our understanding of technology today, there are fewer critical writings published on it.

There are two critical discussions that apply to these readings and both discussions are related to each other so I’m going to cover both in my essay. The virtual worlds represent a faux utopia created as an escape for humanity from the distopic world that exists in reality. People spend as much of their days in VR in order to avoid the harsh realities of the world they live in, preferring an escape instead of attempting to change or repair the world. Consumerism is prevalent in these faux utopia societies and both novels focus strongly on the evils of allowing corporations to be in charge of all aspects of society. These societies aren’t just consumer focused, the governments are either nonexistent or corporation run. My rough thesis is, these novels show, through use of virtual reality, how corporations lure people into a sense of a better life by focusing on worldly goods instead of actually making reality better.

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