Basic Economics: Wreck-It Ralph Edition

wreck it ralph

Wreck-It Ralph at first can be interpreted as anti-capitalist. The exposition makes it seem as though Ralph is a poor bad guy, who has been trampled upon by those with money, and who has been forced to submit to a life in the dumpster while tip top gold-coin-adorned rich guy Fix it Felix lives in a penthouse. Who doesn’t feel pity for Ralph when the rich guys say he can’t be as good as Felix or that he can’t get a similar gold coin? With this, it’s possible to assume Ralph has been trapped into being poor and that his life is primarily a battle between him and the rich guys. All of which, however, is wrong.

I think in the beginning of the movie, some audience members, perhaps the more politically left-leaning ones, just wanted to jump into the silver screen, take away some of the rich guys’ gold coins, and give it to Ralph. Those rich guys never invite him to arcade anniversary parties. They never give him slices of cake. So why not act on behalf of them and give all of their stuff to poor guy Ralph? The problem with this sort of wealth redistribution tactic, however, is that it diminishes productivity. Ralph wouldn’t want to work hard to achieve gold coins if he could simply depend on another person’s work; likewise, Fix it Felix wouldn’t want to achieve much if his hard earned accomplishments would be redistributed–through coercion–for others to enjoy. If anything, wealth equality leads a downward trend towards idleness and therefore equal, abject poverty for all.

Fortunately, the movie doesn’t push for an economic equality agenda. What it really does is show the exact opposite; having unequal social status—being the poorer, medal-less guy—can actually be good for Ralph because it encourages him to use his equal opportunities to do better and pursue his own successes. (Hmm! Isn’t this what I defined to be the purpose of life?!) When he understands that using shabby bricks for a blanket at night sucks compared to sleeping in a penthouse, he is able to recognize whatever his mistakes are, and then rise above them. It’s pretty much why you see him exploring the world of the arcade shooting down Cybugs, climbing nearly impossible building heights, and using candy cars made of pure sugary awesomeness to beat the daylights out of corrupt characters.

However, if you are to intervene and cheaply give Ralph the answers to his own personal dilemma, by distributing to him the rich guy’s gold coin, you prevent him from wanting to achieve anything at all and you thereby take away his opportunities for adventure.

One thought on “Basic Economics: Wreck-It Ralph Edition

  1. Thanks, I like your interpretation. Some of my coolest friends have had to overcome some insane limitations and it has made them much more interesting people, especially compared to the spoiled kids whose parents don’t let them grow up…

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