Shimer College

March 31, 2014

The LEGO Movie and Social Responsibility

I was sort of on the fence about whether or not The LEGO movie would be any good. However, everyone was laughing ten minutes in, and I left the theater feeling thoughtful.

A perk of being at Shimer is that I can do very little without analyzing it. Movies, television, commercials, books I read for fun, personal interactions, Facebook photos, etc. Shimer has taught me to read between the lines of everything, which can make enjoying media difficult at times.The LEGO Movie, however, is golden. It was the perfect mix of slapstick and cleverness, good for the kids who dragged their parents and the adults who were dragged.

The movie opens on a battle scene between the evil Lord Business and the Master Builder Vitruvius. The Kragle, a weapon that will be used to change the world forever, is stolen by Lord Business, and then we fast-forward 8 years into the future, and open on a young construction worker named Emmet. Emmet is dedicated to following the instructions and doing things precisely the way they are supposed to be done. He laughs at all the right jokes, drinks overpriced coffee ($34 per cup), and goes to work on time. When he stops following the instructions by accident, everything changes. He’s introduced to WildStyle, a Master Builder who is trying to find the Piece of Resistance, when he finds the Piece of Resistance and is declared the Special – the person who will stop President Business and bring peace to the world.Unfortunately for Emmet, this involves a lot more skills than he actually has. WildStlye is disappointed in Emmet, and takes him on a breakneck journey to explain and learn how to build things that can be used to defeat President Business. With the inclusion of LEGO Batman, a vintage LEGO astronaut, and a combination Unicorn/Kitty called Princess Unikitty, the cast is complete.

It’s a funny, thought-provoking movie about how to work together as a team while retaining your own creativity and specialness. The chief complaint about the movie I had is that it has few female characters, and falls back on the trope of “hero gets the girl.” WildStyle is creative, tough, and smart, and she steps aside to let Emmet have his moment. She is jealous, because she has spent her entire life learning how to be a Master Builder, and thought it was her destiny to find the Piece of Resistance. We get to see her open up and help Emmet to grow, while also developing compassion for people who follow the rules and more traditional way of life.

As I’ve grown through my examination and reading into everything, it’s been important for me to realize that sometimes even though I don’t agree with something, or understand why it’s flawed or what have you, there are people who need those structures to survive. I personally choose, for example, not to spend money at WalMart. But I know that it’s sometimes the best choice for people even if they don’t agree with its business practices. It’s my responsibility to try and understand people and what they know, and help them to find alternate resources or ideas if they ask for them. Instead of criminalizing someone who follows “the instructions” (like WildStyle does at the beginning of the film), I can look at what I’m doing and how I can use that to improve the quality of life not only for myself, but for other people.

SaraLouise Dawson