So I saw The Lego Movie last weekend. And I won’t spoil it for anyone but I will say that everything about it is AWESOME. After seeing it I turned to my 19-year-old brother and said, “This is exactly what playing with Legos as kids was like.” And he agreed. Playing with Legos was always super fun and imaginative. And even though I wasn’t the best at building with the bricks or following the instructions. I was pretty good at creating different Mini-fig characters. Part of what I loved about this film was there was a motley crew of characters that the protagonist Emmet teams up with to save the day, much like in earlier films such as Toy Story or The Muppet Movie. The world-building involved in the film was really cool as well. I almost wanted to go home and dig out my old Legos. I’m sure most kids watching it were going to go home and play with their Legos too.
And here we come to my other point in writing. I’ve read a few complaints that The Lego Movie as well as the Lego franchise in general is marketed mainly to boys and short changes girls and the female characters created for them. The review (found here) on the AVClub website has this to say: “Wyldstyle, though confident and talented, often exists to play the foil of Batman (her jerk boyfriend) and Emmet (the object of her mild envy, then affection). And the only other major female character, voiced by Alison Brie, isn’t portrayed as a mini-figure, making Wyldstyle the catchall female protagonist.”
This. Makes. Me. Very. Angry. Maybe Lego failed in most of its toys marketed to girls because it just thought hey let’s make everything pink then girls will like it. Wrong. Girls like playing with normal Legos just as much as boys. I see it as more of a gender-neutral toy since there’s something there for every type of kid regardless of gender. I liked building people and creating stories. My youngest brother liked building castles and houses and backstories for all his characters that lived in them. My middle brother who later on went to a technological university to become an IT guy, enjoyed spending hours building huge sets like the directions said or even creating new things he thought up.
Kids don’t like characters because of their gender. Most children don’t like only characters that are the same gender as them nor do they look for characters to be “role models.” I’m sick of this lens in which we always must see female characters. Can’t they just be characters first why do their personality traits have to be: I am female. We don’t like it when lead character’s traits are: I am a protagonist. So why let the gender of a character get in the way of developing them as an interesting, quirky, FLAWED, person.
My two favorite characters in this film were a lot like the types of lego people I created as a child. Wyldstyle was a lot like the spunky, independent girl lego people I would create. I usually made cool interesting boyfriends for them too. They didn’t have Lego Batman mini-figs when I was a kid, so my main ponytail-sporting horseback-rider girl dated a cargo pants wearing lego named Joe who owned a restaurant. If I recall correctly he basically looked something like a mini-fig version of Ted Mosby. (Which is weird because that show wasn’t even a thing yet).
The other character from the movie I loved was Benny the 1980-something Space Man. I had this figure! And his helmet was broken too. His crazy spastic-ness was much how I played Legos which also caused me break a lot of my brother’s creations on accident.
So what can we take away from all this? Legos are a fun, creativity inducing toy filled with lots of fun made-up and licensed characters. And the movie reflects this. It would also be great if we learned to analyze characters as people first rather than worrying about whether they represent their gender well or not.