Have you ever played any of the Sonic the Hedgehog games on Sega Genesis? After playing, have you ever had urges to take over your country's economy and redistribute the wealth among the proletariat class? In fact, you might have fallen victim to another cog in the propaganda machine.
It's hard not to have at least some familiarity with the character of Sonic. After all, he was one of the most iconic protagonists in video game history. He was for Sega what Mario was for Nintendo. The basic idea was that this little hedgehog, equipped with magic sneakers that caused him to run super fast, ran from landscape to landscape chasing after an evil, mad scientist. And following the video game came multiple television series and comic books.
Seems pretty simple and wholesome, doesn't it? I mean, what possible harm could this wise-cracking, cute little mammal have on society? And yet, there are nuances to Sonic the Hedgehog that one does not quite comprehend until he or she has reached a certain point in maturity. It takes years of education, experience, and hopefully, an education in the social sciences to discern the true multi-layered meaning behind the Sonic franchise.
To the unsuspecting masses, Sonic the Hedgehog delivered one critical, yet extremely subtle messages: capitalism is evil, while socialism is the means to prosperity.
To see this, simply consider the basic plot of the video game. Dr. Robotnik, an unequivocally evil villain, set out to control the means of production in Sonic Land and expand his profit-making, wold-dominating enterprises. He began stealing animals from the wilderness (i.e. "Green Hill Zone" or "Emerald Hill Zone"), shoving them into a contraption that turned them into robots, and then exploiting them as cheap labor in his various factories and oil refineries. They served as mindless automatons with long hours, no breaks, and likely no health benefits, while Dr. Robotnik flew around in his egg ship, amassing gold rings (the standard currency in Sonic Land). He would then use his vast amount of wealth to build more factories and extract more oil from foreign lands, which he seemingly only used to design booby traps, killer robots, and laser beams to keep away any potential do-gooders.
Most importantly, however, like any industrialist fat-cat, Dr. Robotnik also had a master plan to collect 8 chaos emeralds in order to fuel a giant and unimaginably powerful space station, known as the "Death Egg," to take over the world.
Enter Sonic the Hedgehog: a calm, witty punk-rocker with blue, spiked-up hair and red converse shoes. Sonic single-handedly took up the mission to pursue Dr. Robotnik through his multiple establishments and shut them down one by one by means of jump flips, super speed, and occasional invincibility.
At first, he merely freed his friends from their robotic captivity, stole Dr. Robotnik's gold rings, and redistributed them to the masses in a Robin Hood-like fashion. Yet, Sonic's ultimate goal was to establish and sustain an egalitarian society free from the clutches of bourgeois oppression. As such, his methods grew more extreme and unorthodox as time went on. In Sonic Spinball, for instance, Sonic's no longer cared for freeing animals; rather, he endeavored to actually physically destroy Robotnik's factories (and space station).
Not convinced that Dr. Robotnik actually represented the wealthy industrialist? Consider the names of the zones in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Shortly after leaving Emerald Hill Zone, Sonic travels through Chemical Plant Zone, Aquatic Ruin Zone (an allusion to Robotnik's harmful effect on the ocean wildlife), Casino Zone (Robotnik was also in the gambling racket) and Metropolis Zone (one of Robotnik's major factories). The tragedy is by the time Sonic reaches Oil Ocean Zone, Robotnik's influence had become so disastrous that his oil refinery suffered a major spill, massively polluting the local environment and destroying the animals. Talk about your negative externalities!
However, Sonic finally defeated a robotic version of himself, symbolizing no less than the working man's ultimate victory over the ruling class and its robot warriors.
So, there you have it. Sonic the Hedgehog is a socialist hero. Indeed, this might come as a tremendous shock to you. It might be difficult to reconcile what you thought Sonic represented with what he actually stands for. Yet, regardless of your political beliefs, your economic preferences, or your views on class warfare, there is another lesson, perhaps even more important, that we can glean from our years of following Sonic's adventures. He taught us to stand up for what we believe in, regardless of societal pressures.
And to avoid spikes.