This is Part 1 in a 5 part series based around Wall Street Kid for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It originally appeared in the zine The Backlog: Fortunate Son.
In 2017, politics are unavoidable. With President Trump’s promises to “drain the swamp” of corporate interests in Washington and then his immediate inductions of corporate lobbyists into cabinet positions, he isolated both sides of the political spectrum. Greed has proven itself to be, once again, the status quo. And to better understand the path we’re taking, or the one we need to prevent, we can look no further than the Reagan administration.
The 1980s in Western culture celebrated conservative ideals. Movies featured individualistic action heroes who fought against the bad guys just as much as they defied the government by taking matters into their own hands. TV sitcoms celebrated the “working man” (Cheers) or nostalgia (The Wonder Years). Dramas lifted men in positions of law and order (Hill Street Blues, Miami Vice, The A-Team) and strayed from moral ambiguity. Popular music of the time (which is revered by my generation of older millennials) avoided complicated political matters in favor of powerful and/or angsty love songs. This isn’t to say that the culture didn’t have its own counter-culture; indeed, punk music flourished, as did anti-establishment comedy continue to spread. Plus the post-Sundance indie film movement delved into more complex subjects and experimented with structure in fascinating ways. However, the popular culture (as it were) continued to praise the ideals of President Reagan and his neoconservative administration.
With that in mind, we are going to take a look at a game that celebrates excess in a comically self-indulgent manner. Yet, underneath the surface, is the perfect example of how “privilege” works.