It was half term this week — and as all parents know, February Half Term is a time of ABJECT HORROR because it’s dark and gloomy and rainy and there’s nothing for the kids to do and OMFG JUST TAKE US AWAY FROM ALL THIS. So, thank F for the cinema, I say (and for the fact my children will sit through any old pap, as long as it’s colourful and has a cool enough soundtrack to keep small creatures with the attention span of a gnat happy). Though luckily for me and Mr C, for the last decade or so animators in particular have caught on to the fact parents actually WANT TO ENJOY MOVIES AS WELL (I know, who’d have thought it?!).
Even though we saw it on the day it came out a couple of weeks ago, we saw The Lego Movie AGAIN, this time in 3D. We even took Old Mr C (nearly 80) along, who not only hadn’t set foot in a cinema for nigh on thirty years, had never seen a 3D movie before:
“How was it?” I queried as we left.
“Oh aye, it were funny,” Old Mr C said, “And interesting. They looked like actual bricks, didn’t em?”
The Lego Movie has totally cleaned up box office-wise and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a funny and clever plot, with great characters, quotable dialogue and intriguing, complex themes of individualism versus working in a team; self belief and determinism; plus imagination versus perfectionism (and yes, it’s colourful and has a great soundtrack). What’s more, you notice different things the more you watch it, which I think is always the mark of GREAT storytelling and filmmaking.
However, as we Bang2writers know, it’s not possible to please EVERYONE of course and as we all know, there will undoubtedly be those Keyboard Warriors out there overthinking even a movie as universally loved as THE LEGO MOVIE and picking fault with **everything it is**, for reasons only comprehensible in Bizarro World.
So, for a laugh here are 5 possible things said Keyboard Warriors could wilfully take wrong in the movie:
5. “FML — Stereotypes rule in Brickberg, just like they do in real life toys!”
OMG, girl toys versus boy toys! Pink versus blue! Science versus beauty! And look what Lego have done … They have taken those stereotypical playsets and transplanted them DIRECTLY INTO THE MOVIE. We have a pink, girly world and a Wild West boy type world … The pink girly world is in the clouds and has lots of rainbows in it, FFS! Whereas the boy world actually has a saloon full of cowboys, “indians” and DANCING GIRLS. What’s more, boys are catered for more throughout the entire movie, with nods to superheroes, Star Wars, science fiction and dragons throughout. WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE [GIRL] CHILDREN?!? MORE: The Girls On Film (And Beyond) and The Boys Are Back In Town Pinterest Boards.
4. “A crude comment on mental health issues!”
In the movie, there’s a character called Bad Cop/Good Cop, voiced by Liam Neeson. As you may imagine, he’s both good AND evil — and HOLY CRAP he actually switches personality and voices as he does bad and good things (and of course he ends up “stuck” on bad, which is TOTES yet another negative representation of schizophrenia!!) When are filmmakers going to stop reinforcing this BS of people with mental health issues being BAD?? MORE: Schizophrenia, Psychopathy & Characterisation in DEVIATION.
3. “Characters reflect traditional and binary gender roles!”
There is, of course, not a single LGBT character in The Lego Movie. And if that isn’t bad enough, our hero Emmett is a normal guy, so of course a wimp … And what’s more, he’s not up against another *normal* guy, oh no, but BATMAN! Actual Batman. Dark, brooding, orphaned, heroic Batman, yet *still* our everyman is more appealing to our heroine?? Gimme a break. Here we have male privilege embodied YET AGAIN.
But for me, it’s UniKitty who is the most problematic character in THE LEGO MOVIE. Both a cat AND a unicorn (WTF? Two stereotypically “girly” ideas AGAIN), UniKitty not only talks in a little baby voice, s/he (it?) likes stereotypically “girly” stuff like rainbows and candy floss!! But the filmmakers don’t stop there, oh no — not when there’s yet another generation of little girls to oppress:
UniKitty is an attack on Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS).
As if all the jokes for the last millennia weren’t enough, The Lego Movie takes the Mick as well out of this decidedly female issue by having UniKitty GO NUTS at one point in the story — and her PMS-style rage meaning she actually ACHIEVES SOMETHING (no spoilers) she doesn’t manage to whilst being “good”. Don’t believe me? Well think about … UniKITTY … PUSSY?? I rest my case. MORE: Heroes, Villains and Disposable Men and Are Women More “Complex” Than Men?
2. “The female character is objectified by her looks and identified by her relationships!”
The first time we meet main female character Wildstyle (aka Lucy), it’s in super slo mo, via our hero’s eyes. There’s soft lighting and calming music, plus he’s stopped dead in his tracks, as if she’s a piece of (plastic) meat to salivate over. And that dress?? Ahem: MALE GAZE ALERT.
Throughout the story, Wildstyle defers to the men in the narrative too … What’s more, Wildstyle is not only going out with Batman, she’s delivered to Emmett at the end BY Batman as he “gives” her to our hero who is apparently more deserving of her love. WTF?
Oh and btw, if UniKitty is not a she? Then THE LEGO MOVIE **totally** fails The Bechdel Test, btw. TUT TUT.
1. The Hero is yet another a Great White Hope.
So, yet again, the hero of the hour is MALE. Thanks, Lego. And of course, when I say “white”, everyone in THE LEGO MOVIE is *actually* yellow. But I’m assuming that, like THE SIMPSONS, yellow = white (because if you remember, the likes of Carl and Dr. Hibbert are still represented as PoCs).
So on this basis then, THERE IS NO RACIAL DIVERSITY IN THIS MOVIE.
And I for one, am outraged. Again.
Remember, if you’re LOOKING for things “wrong” with *any* creative work? You WILL find them.
Of course, that’s not to say creators should get a free pass to to to whatever they want and to hell with the audience. But then, I’ve yet to meet many people who feel this way, anyway. Most people want to create something of worth, something their target audience can love and cherish. Of course, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, but to pretend there is some SINISTER CABAL out there, trying its hardest to oppress the marginalised via the medium of movies, novels and TV is ultimately futile. It’s at these times I’m reminded of the words of a great philosopher:
“Hate something? Change something … Make something better.”
Okay, it was a Honda advert. But seriously, stop going on about stuff you hate on the internet and actually do something about it, such as — ooooh I dunno, write a screenplay or novel? Make a short film or web series? Create a team to get a feature up and running? Set up a film festival or networking event for marginalised voices?
It can be whatever you want … but I DOUBLE DARE YOU. Good luck!
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