Moana — How Far I’ll Go

Moana laments about how she wants to travel the sea, but her father wants her to stay behind and help her village. Moana wants to travel, but she can’t do it on her own. In order to travel the sea, she requires a variety of inputs like her boat and the wind in her sail. In order to build the boat, she needs wood from the trees on the island, but also some human capital associated with how to build a boat that won’t sink. All of our decisions, and any production that occurs on the island, requires resources. The main resource on this particular island is people’s labor, as they produce a variety of items to ensure society remains intact. As Moana says, “everyone knows their role on this island.”

Beauty and The Beast — Gaston

Gaston is the best man in town, for everything! If you don’t believe that, you can just ask him. In this scene from Beauty and the Beast, LeFou starts a song to help cheer up Gaston after Belle’s rejection. Gaston has an absolute advantage in a wide variety of things)—fighting, spitting, eating a large number of eggs, and even interior decorating. Gaston, however, is a relatively poor chess player. While Gaston is capable of doing everything for himself, it doesn’t mean he should. Gaston can still benefit from trade if he focuses on his comparative advantage.

Thanks to Matt Rousu for the clip!

Frozen: Let It Go

Frozen is the story of two princesses, Anna and Elsa. Elsa has magical powers that she is forced to hide her entire life until her coronation ceremony. Elsa flees to the cold, remote mountains and sings “Let it Go” after finally accepting her magical powers and letting go of the pressure to hold back her true self. When she sings “the past is in the past”, it’s a reminder of the role of sunk costs in the decision-making process. Sunk costs should be ignored because that time/energy/money cannot be recovered in the present.

Thanks to Matt Rousu for the clip.

Tarzan — Strangers Like Me

Jane decides to help Tarzan increase is human capital by learning some new “human” skills. After learning these various skills, Tarzan should be much more productive.

Thanks for the clip recommendation  Courtney Conrad!

Newsies — Unionism & Profit-Maximization

When Mr. Pulitzer decides to raise prices in the distribution channel by forcing the newsies (the newspaper boys) to pay higher prices for a pack of 100 papers, the newsies decide to go on strike. Without raising the price to the final consumer, the price increase essentially just lowers the profits the newsies can collect. They decide to go on strike and create a newsies union to have more monopoly power in the process.

Pixar — One Man Band


I use this clip to introduce the concept of monopolistic competition in a market place and how demand shifts when close substitutes enter a market.

The Little Mermaid — A Kiss for Humanity

Ariel is making a deal with Ursula to become human. The clip begins with Ursula telling Ariel that she can become a human for three days by taking her magic potion. If Prince Eric falls in love with Ariel by the third day then she can stay human forever. If he does not fall in love with her, then she will go back to being a mermaid and work for Ursula. In addition, Ursula wants Ariel to give up her voice as payment for the potion to turn human.

This clip applies to the economic concepts of opportunity cost and decision-making. Life is full of choices and with each choice comes evaluating your opportunity costs. One’s opportunity cost is what they give up to obtain something else. In this clip, Ariel has to decide whether to give up her voice to become human. At one point in the clip, Ariel says that if she becomes a human forever then she will never see her family again. She has to consider if she wants to give up being with her family to be with Prince Eric. She also must decide if she wants to give up her voice in order to turn human for three days. This clip is a great example of opportunity cost and how one must evaluate their opportunity cost to make the best decision for them.

Thank you for the clip and summary Meredith Feinstein!

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