People do a lot of crazy things when they’re bored. I was bored watching the Legos movie (called, ‘The Lego Movie’), so I decided to do a feminist deconstruction of it. Excuse my choice in movie because I was vulnerable at the time, I was looking for a fun movie to watch so I succumb to the suggestion while having done no research of what I was getting into.
When I say ‘feminist deconstruction’, I mean this in the loosest possible terms (calm down, literary aficionados and the general academic community). Below is what I noticed. But I should say ‘spoiler alert’, although I really don’t want to do that because if I do spoil it for you, then that’s for the best because you won’t see it. Job done. Nonetheless, ‘spoiler alert’:
1. There’s an anti-hero and a competent woman that shows him the way
This is frustrating. ‘Oh, how cool, another everyday person who becomes the hero’. No. He’s just a loser that needs someone much more competent to help him through life. Enter ‘empowered’ female, who becomes the love interest. Oh wait, actually, it gets worse. She’s introduced as an object. The most valuable thing about her is her hair! Dear god. Meanwhile, when we got introduced to the male lead, his personality was front and centre. The female has no personality but her hair, her personality is unknown and mysterious. That’s the attraction, that we have no idea what her personality is. This gets frustrating the more I write. Moving on.
2. The woman knows everything and is very capable so this is totally new agey, right?
No! It’s actually really horrible. Because despite all her obvious competence, she just can’t get a break. She doesn't find the magical artifact, the piece de resistance (admittedly a cute pun), that the anti-hero literally stumbles upon. Parallel to real life? “Sorry you didn't get the job, missy, you just don’t have that x-factor that we can’t possibly explain (well, we could explain it: he has a piece, and you don’t). Omfg! I just realised that the ‘piece de resistance’ is a phallic symbol! Wow. I feel all 'Andrew Bolty' right now in making this long bow, but I’m sure it stretches.
3. It’s comforting to people benefiting from white male privilege
The anti-hero has no ability. Anti-heroes usually have some untapped potential. This guy has no ability whatsoever, and it’s actually his lack of ability that makes him succeed. The advice he receives is something like this: ‘your mind is so empty that it’s able to think of ideas that are so stupid that the bad guy won’t see it coming’. This is surely comforting to people who experience ‘good luck’ and just write it off. No, you got good luck because people liked the look of you, because people in positions of power saw you as one of them and so they elevated you (When “Life Hacking” is really white privilege). Good stuff doesn't just ‘happen’ to everyone.
4. Owning women
So the female lead is clearly owned. By Lego Batman, as it were. When the male lead slightly, ever so slightly, hinted that he might be interested in her with his gaze that may have gone slightly too long, she jumps in and says “I have a boyfriend you know”. And just the other day I was reading this article: "Male privilege is “I have a boyfriend” being the only thing that can actually stop someone from hitting on you because they respect another male-bodied person more than they respect your rejection/lack of interest." This girl says it several times, because of course, ‘I’m not interested’ would never suffice. The crescendo is at the end when Batman gives permission to her to date him because Batman now respects the anti-hero. Seriously, he gives permission. It actually looks really tense and up in the air until Batman gives the green light. It’s seen as a sign that the anti-hero’s made it, too. It’s like passing the prized cow to the new tribal chieftain. I figuratively vomited.
She couldn't have just said, “I've moved on”. It had to be by mutual agreement. I shouldn't go on too much further except to say that Batman appears to be okay with losing his girlfriend to the new guy, not because he recognises anything about their relationship or about her being in love. But because the anti-hero is now the alpha male of the scene since he saved everyone. Those other things just don’t factor.
5. So I used inverted commas when I said ‘empowered’ female lead
Yeah, she ain't empowered. She’s got ability and she’s got competence. But at every significant step, a male character makes the call. She takes the anti-hero to her father, then her boyfriend, who of course drives the car (can this get any more obvious?), and at the end of it, despite her being clearly the smartest one there and clearly the most responsible for all the success, she needs Batman’s permission to not date him anymore. There’s no recognition of her contribution. And this is why it’s so horrible, because it reinforces that no matter how hard you work as a woman, you just won’t have the ‘piece’ that puts you on the podium.
6. A bit of racism and homophobia for good measure
I won’t get into too much detail about the racism: there’s one non-white character. And actually it would've been better if he was left out because now it’s clear that yellow Lego pieces actually represent white people, rather than just some non-ethnicity.
And the homophobia. Yeah, they even went there: “I got off that spaceship because they were all dudes”. Aside from the fact that you are in a relationship, Batman, why do you need someone of the opposite sex on the spaceship? Oh, you mean, you didn't want to hang out with gay guys. Got it. This happened along with a couple of other lisping remarks thrown in for comic effect.
I should go watch Frozen now to feel good about the world. Let it go, Clinton, let it go.