Sunday 3 April 2016

Nerd Church - A Rich Man's World

Okie dokie my lovely people! Another week, another Nerd Church post.

And here's what I've been thinking of this week: money!

People don't talk a lot about money - not in the fictional world anyway. But it's an inescapable part of life - we all need it if we want things like clothes and food and all that jazz.

It's also something that, rightly or wrongly, separates us into the rich... and everyone else.

piggy bank

So why are so many fictional characters on the rich side of the spectrum?

This happens a lot, especially when it comes to superheroes - though other genres aren't innocent in all this either.

I'm not saying it's a rampant problem - I'm just saying that given how few people are actually that rich, they seem to crop up a lot in pop culture.

Sure, it helps out with plot if someone like Tony Stark has enough money to go faffing about in a suit of armour with little concern for anything else.

And then, Bruce Wayne is loaded. Oliver Queen (the Green Arrow) has always lived the rich playboy lifestyle.

Hell, even Harry Potter finds out that he has a vault just heaving with actual freaking gold at Gringotts!

Unless it's some huge look-at-me plot point, money just never seems to be a problem to fictional characters. Something which effects all of us every day is just stuffed under the rug and walked away from with an innocent-sounding whistle.

What's the message here?

If the 'good guys' are always rolling in it, does that mean, by inference, that poor people can't be heroes?


Yes, fine, have a rich villain, go ahead! But a rich hero has to stop them in return.

I just find it a little antiquated that people who aren't rolling in it have to be protected by the exceptionally rich - the modern-day equivalent of the feudal Baron, lording it over the little people and claiming to be doing it for their own protection.

Because in no way can non-rich people think for themselves, protect themselves, act under their own direction - perish the thought!

So heroes, then, are rich and handsome. Money somehow gives them status. And we all seem to be OK with that.

The exceptions

There are some heroes who aren't filthy stinking rich (and thank God for that.)

Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, for example, grew up in 1930s poverty, in New York.

I like to think that his upbringing has something to do with the compassion he has, and his willingness to stand up for what's right, no matter who he's standing up to.

And of course, in most versions of his upbringing, Clint Barton (Hawkeye) grew up as a performer in a travelling carnival and/or circus.

And there are others - plenty of examples of non-rich heroes to go around, I'm sure.

But the icons - Batman, Iron Man, etc. - so many of them seem to have no financial worries in this world.

Then there's dystopia...

One of my many theories (and my friends, I have a theory for pretty much everything,) is that dystopia is so popular because it gives us a heightened version of our own world - only one in which things are more changeable than many would consider our world to be.

Katniss Everdeen is the epitome (ooh, look! Fancy word! ;P ) of a poverty-stricken hero.

And what's more, she's doing what we all wish we could do - fighting against an unfair system which rewards the few (the Capitol,) while punishing the many (the Districts.)

Dystopia as a genre bucks the rich-people-are-heroes trend, because it simply doesn't seem to fit in with a genre where so many people are suffering in hellish conditions.

So, what's my point?

Rich people can be heroic, I'm sure - but why are we seeing so many wealthy heroes?

Most of us aren't rich. In fact, there are probably more starving Katniss-es in this world than there are billionaires like Tony Stark. 99% and all that.

And aside from that... it just feels lazy.

It means that the writers don't have to give their heroes any uncomfortable, everyday, worries, or work out too many of the restrictions of a secret identity/superhero lifestyle - it seems like you can get away with practically anything if you have enough money to throw at it.

Unlike Spider-man, Iron Man can faff off to anywhere in the world whenever he wants - no job, no responsibilities, no restrictions.

Most of us, though? We're reduced to selling slightly-deceitful photos of Spider-man to the Daily Bugle, like Peter Parker, in the hopes that we can help pay the bills.

Nerd Church is a weekly post where I talk about various issues in various ways, and sometimes just have a rant. Feel free to continue the conversation but, as always, please link back here - it's good karma ;)

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  1. Interesting post! I think that's why I love contemporary a lot, it's because the characters are more realistic and deal with real life issues, such as money. But it would be nice for more fictional heros to deal with these issues too.

    1. I don't read much contemporary: just haven't found much that interests me in that genre.

      I think what annoys me the most with the money thing is the sense of 'oh, if I make (insert character's name) rich, then I won't have to deal with that, and I can just make sh** blow up.' Kind of similar to the lack of parents in fiction, actually. ;)

  2. I know the feeling! I think the main thing that bothers me about it is that it just is sloppy and lazy. All of a sudden, it doesn't become an issue because money is endless. For the superhero movies where their superhero is their gadgets and machinery... then I can understand. But in books, I wish I saw a little more of the normal budget kind of people.

    1. Exactly! Although even with the tech, it's like, can't we see them saving for the new gizmo once in a while?! Please?!


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