I took my boys this weekend to see the highly anticipated Steven Spielberg movie, “Ready Player One”. When I watched the trailer, I was NOT so excited about watching a movie where a game is the reality to these kids. I’m trying to limit my boys’ video game playtime, not encourage a world encompassed by games.
Off we go, sodas, popcorn… all the necessities I’ll need to endure a movie like this.
And then the start.
It wasn’t long into the movie until the plot started to unravel and you began to understand WHY people in the future want to immerse themselves in lives of virtual reality. They could be anyone they want, they could go anywhere and experience anything they could imagine. They could look the way they felt inside. The Oasis was a place where anything was possible.
The movie guides us through the game and the ultimate goal to win and get control of the Oasis…
I’m following along, understanding the rules of the game, the importance of finding keys and references to pop culture of years past, and then the scene happens where Wade walks into the room and sees Samantha for the first time, in real life, NOT in the Oasis…
I literally choked on my popcorn! Did you see her face?
Samantha (aka Art3mis) has a purple port wine stain on the side of her face! She tries to hide it with her hair… and definitely hides it in her avatar she created to play in the Oasis.
I’ve seen this type of mark before. I know a young man named Jayden, who has the side of his face covered JUST LIKE SAM.
I recovered from my choking episode as I think about how awesome it is that they incorporated this MAJOR aspect of Samantha from the book into the movie.
The movie goes on… they’re playing the game, winning keys, trying to stay ahead of the bad guys…and then I cry. Full out blubbering, big fat tears cry.
Sam’s avatar changes in the BIGGEST fight scene of the movie and she includes her port wine stain birthmark on her face.
She wears it as a badge of honor.
In a pivotal shift in her character, she embraces the reality of her life, her face. This teenage girl, playing a virtual reality game in a movie… finally took the leap to not only accept herself and her differences… but, to let everyone in the perfect world of Oasis see her too. It’s such a moving gesture that the flood gates of tears and snot collectively stream down my face. I’m so proud of her in this moment.
It’s at this moment when I want to rush out in to the hallway to call Jayden, the young man I know with this exact birthmark on his face.
You see… I work for a non-profit, Miracle Flights. We provide free commercial air fare to children who need to travel out of state for medical treatment. Jayden just happens to be one of thousands of children that we’ve flown. I met him and his grandparents a few months ago and our local news did a feature story on him and his condition, Sturge-Weber Syndrome.
He shared his medical journey with viewers, how the treatment to get the wine stain lasered off his face is so very painful. But, Jayden also shared how he was bullied in school frequently and how this birthmark on his face affects how other people treat him. It’s this bullying that I know Jayden endures that fueled my tears in the movie.
Jayden is such a strong young man, with many more medical battles to fight in his future… but, I hope he watches this movie and is excited to see that there are others just like him… starring in a major movie AND winning at the game of life.
So… Steven Spielberg, thanks for incorporating Samantha’s birthmark in the movie, thanks for making me cry and thanks for changing up her avatar to show her true self. You set the example that so many people in this world need.
Young Jayden was born with Sturge-Weber Syndrome. He has traveled 6 times to New York for various surgeries and Miracle Flights has provided free commercial airfare for each flight. He inspired this article, with his positive outlook on life, his medical journey and hope for an amazing future. To find out more about Miracle Flights and how to request air travel, visit www.miracleflights.org. You can also see more about Jayden and his medical journey on this Channel 8 Miracle Moment https://youtu.be/rL49NVO_SmM