I feel the need to come to poor Richie Rich’s defense.
In a recent interview with the Atlantic Barack Obama called Donald Trump “Richie Rich- the complaining, lying, doesn’t take responsibility for anything type of figure.”
Though I agree with our former president’s characterization of his successor, I take umbrage at his characterization of the much-beloved Richie Rich.
Richie Rich was a comic book character with character.
He was good and pure of heart despite his privilege. Donald Trump is not only a bogus billionaire he is the very poster boy of privilege, a bloviating, pathological liar, who thinks only of himself and lining his pockets
The only thing these two have in common besides their golden hair are both being cartoon characters.
The Harvey World of Comic Books
I was addicted to comic books growing up. Along with the likes of Archie and his gang I consumed every configuration of Harvey comics who specialized in appealing to young readers with its little cute doe-eyed children like Little Dot, Little Audrey, Little Lotta, Casper, and, Richie Rich. Easy to read and oh so easy to digest, I binged on each 14 cents pulpy comic book with the regularity and enjoyment of a pop tart.
Life lessons could be gleaned between the covers and wealth inequality and class consciousness was one of them. Comics made you aware of the have and have nots. In the middle-class world of Harvey comics populated with the middle-class families of Little Audrey and Little Dot, there was Richie Rich.
Riche Rich the richest kid in the world, is so rich his middle name is a dollar sign.
Sure he lives in a mansion with Cadbury the butler, Pierre the Chef, and a slew of household help, and gets and an allowance of $100,000 a week. His collection of fantastical mechanical toys is enviable and even his dog “Dollar” (a “dallarmation” like a Dalmatian )has dollar signs instead of spots. Yet Richie refuses to be a spoiled rich kid.
That fact alone differentiates him from the entitled, spoiled, temper tantrum throwing Trump.
To begin with, Richie Rich was really rich unlike the heavy debt-riddled Trump with his multiple failed businesses and countless bankruptcies.
The Rich family has more money, business, property, homes, jewels, and treasures than all the Rockefellers and European Aristrocacy combined. Their vaults and storehouses of money, jewels, and other treasures often burst from being too stuffed and must find other ways of containing their wealth which appears to be their main problem.
The only child of wealthy parents, Richie Rich’s father is an industrialist who though absorbed in the family business is never too busy for Richie, unlike Donald’s cruel and distant and father who never had time for his family.
His parents are a loving couple who never argue. Mr. Rich would never be seen squiring around a voluptuous young model. Mrs. Rich indulges herself with jewels and furs but her ostentation is minor compared to Aunt Noovo who though harmless is a stereotype of new wealth who has a tendency to show off her affluence.
One might suspect that money has tainted the Rich family but no- they are warm, friendly, intelligent, and caring, never conniving, aloof or greedy. A happy family they give generously to each other and others. The lesson seems to be that the less one worries about money the more you can concentrate on important things like human relationships.
If anyone in the family resembles Donald Trump it is Richie’s mean, selfish cousin Reggie from his Mother’s side – the Van Doug family. Reggie van Dough Jr is known for playing pranks on everyone. He treats his servants shabbily ( often calling them “peasant” and they call him “Monster” but quickly correct themselves and call him “Master”)
Besides being known as the world’s richest little boy Richie Rich might be known as the world’s nicest little boy. Far from being ego-centric, he uses his wealth to help others.
No elite schools for him. He attends public school in Harveyville and has friends of all social classes. He is not too good to play with lower-class boys, who are among his closest friends.
Freckles and Pee Wee Friendly are Richie’s poor but most prized friends whose blue-jeaned playtime attire contrast with Richie’s Eton waistcoat and red bow tie formal attire. Despite his working-class background, Freckles doesn’t object to Richie’s wealth and at times enjoys it.
Richie even has a middle-class girlfriend Gloria Glad. The pretty blonde is notorious for her refusal of many luxurious gifts Richie offers and her disdain for the open display of money, diamonds, and other forms of wealth in Richie’s household despite his efforts to conceal it from her.
In perhaps the most un-Trumpian characteristic of all, Richie deplores the ostentation of conspicuously wealthy people, Yet he is so nice that he is still kind to his adversaries- his mean cousin Reggie and the vain and envious Mayda Munny both of who are wealthy but spoiled and self-centered.
I Really Don’t Care Do You
If Donald Trump resembles cruel Reggie Van Dough, then Melania seems to fit the Mayda Munny character who craves money and praise and has a disdain for poor people.
Mayda Munny is Richie’s snobby wannabee girlfriend who never wins his attention. Very wealthy, very jealous of Gloria. Like Reggie, Mayda is snobbish and addresses those beneath her as “peasant”
When it comes to emulating Richie Rich I would say Trump fairs very poorly. Trump often behaves in a way consistent with a cartoon version of a rich man but his boorish behavior is more Looney Tunes than Richie Rich.