Starting in 1953 a new kid hit the block; his name is Richie Rich. One can imagine the opening to Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous in which Robin Leach begins the tale of Richie’s rise to fame and fortune. The contemporary version would be MTV’s Cribs.
The camera pans across the large estate and across the 12 cars in the garage to a swimming pool shaped like a dollar bill sign. On a raft in the middle of the pool is Richie who exclaims, “What’s up my bitches! Welcome to my crib!” And although the billionaire boy is always portrayed as being philanthropic, his philanthropy is nothing more than a disguise for his over-spending and self-indulgence.
What makes me say this? Rich white people feel better about being rich when they help others who are less fortunate. It is what I like to call the “Blind Side” effect. By helping out the “less fortunate” the white person in question is made to feel as though they are being socially just in their actions. Less fortunate is set off in quotes because more times that not in Hollywood the "less fortunate" are black individuals down on their luck. It perpetuates a heinous stereotype. In Richie's case, if you have enough money to buy two of everything it is hard to take you seriously as an advocate for the disenfranchised.
So why do I call it the “Blind Side” effect? It could just as easily be called the Machine Gun preacher effect or any other self righteous well intentioned movie effect. The “Blind Side” effect is based on the 2009 film. The IMDB description of the film is as follows: "The story of Michael Oher, a homeless and traumatized boy who became an All American football player and first round NFL draft pick with the help of a caring [white] woman and her family." Is it white guilt parading as philanthropy? I have a real problem with these types of movies. As a friend once put it, social justice is not about social JUST US. It is not an exclusive club like the country club that allows one the privilege of doing “charity” work.
Back to Richie… According to the Richie Rich website these are the stats regarding the Rich estate:
The Rich Mansion has a total of 1,009 rooms in it ! Richie Rich's Allowance is an amazing $100,000 a week ! The Rich Estate has 10,000,000 acres of prime real estate ! The other Rich real estate is worth over $ 2,000,000,000 ! The Rich Estate is valued at about $ 9,750,000,000,000 !
With this much net worth you would think that the boy could end world hunger, provide housing for the homeless, or cure cancer. Instead he chooses to spend his cash on gold faucets. For god sake, the boy skis on a mountain of gold!
I watched Richie Rich as a kid. Now trying to watch it with my own son there are parts that truly make me wince. It sends the wrong message to kids.
How would the message change if Richie had been black? Artist Soner On tries to answer that question: http://soneron.com/?p=182