Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Damn you, Richie Rich


Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m just downright wacky about television.

I’ve loved it ever since I was big enough to understand what was going on with Sesame Street, Captain Kangaroo and all those Saturday morning cartoons. When I was growing up we didn’t have cable and, really, most people didn’t back in the 1970s.

Ah, and cable just made things worse. My digital satellite service increased my addiction to television because I could waste my time on even more channels.

Yes, television is good and I’ll fight any man who disagrees with me. Still, there are time when TV just annoys the hell out of me.

One of those times was this evening when I was watching TV with my wife. Since we were watching “live,” I couldn’t skip forward through commercials and that was a bad thing. We saw this commercial about that Richie Rich movie starring Macaulay Culkin and I realized just how much I despise Richie Rich. I detest Richie Rich even more than Count Chocula, in fact, and that’s saying something.

I’ve never liked that Richie Rich bastard a bit, really, and never understood why that character got as popular as he did. He’s been around since 1957 – first in comics, then on an animated Saturday morning cartoon in the 1980s and then in the aforementioned movie.

In the Harvey comics he was tagged as “the poor little rich boy.” They should have used some other slogan -- “serving up class envy since 1957” or “things rich kids have that you never will.”

The whole series, see, is based around this kid who has more cash at his disposal than, say, Canada. He lives in Richville and his father owns Rich Industries. Hell, the little brat has a dog named Dollar, for God's sake. The whole thing plays out like a version of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous (another franchise which was inexplicably popular for awhile) for kids.

The series has always struck me as odd for a couple of reasons – it appears to be fueled by an unhealthy fascination with wealth and suggests more than a few times that your problems will be solved if someone with money shows up and helps you out of them. Richie Rich, indeed, spends a lot of time (and money) doing good deeds and appears to be popular in town because of just that.

The message that sends kids, seemingly, is pretty toxic. It appears you can’t accomplish much of anything without a pile of cash. If you don’t have one of your own, then perhaps a wealthy neighbor will let you have some of his and your problems will be solved.

I’d like my kids to be more self reliant than that, I think.

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