The Lego Movie has gained a large amount of attention since its release on February 7th because of its societal message filmed through a children’s toy. I would relate this particular movie to the ideas around George Orwell’s 1984 and even to Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. The idea that a government can disregard its legal obligations to society and place a totalitarian form of leadership that would strip people of their creativity and individuality. But the Lego Movie goes beyond these concepts and implies that there are still issues surrounding gender roles and American’s ability to communicate. Alison Brie’s character, Unikitty, embodies the unfairness of societies response to natural, emotional responses.
The narrative is based around Chris Pratt’s character, Emmett Brickowski, a generic Lego with no unique qualities, who stumbles into the role of the Chosen One in order to bring President Business’ government to the ground. President Business, voiced by Will Ferrell, has created barriers between different Lego cultures and given them all manuals to ensure their roles within their particular societies. The Master Builder’s (the rebels) job is to reconstruct the buildings around them into unique edifices to break the suppression of freethinking. After Emmett is rescued by Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), they are brought into the alternate society of Cloud Cuckoo Land, the capital of rainbows and puppies. There the audience meets Princess Unikitty, a bubbly pink kitty that guides them through the world of no rules by giving them a few rules: no government, no bedtimes, no frowny-faces, and no negativity. Upon first viewing, I disregarded this segment as a traditional child’s dream of an ongoing fantasy world of no rules. However, after seeing it a second time, and knowing the outburst the audience would witness towards the end of the movie, her statement of no frowny-faces really caught my attention. Isn’t part of an anarchical society embodied by individuality; the ability to express exactly what one is feeling? By suppressing the very emotions that make us individuals, isn’t Cloud Cuckoo Land just as restricting as the society run by President Business?
As the movie rolls along, Unikitty is consistently challenged with unpleasant events like the destruction of Cloud Cuckoo Land, the failure of their escape submarine, and their capture and detainment by President Business’s think tank. During this build up, Unikitty keeps a positive outlook and is determined to continue smiling. Speaking for myself, I can say that my natural reaction to failure is not to smile. The forced smile and positive outlook come after anger, sadness, and a little personal shaming. It took me awhile to accept that this was simply how I was going to respond. It took even longer to embrace that emotional state and use it as a time to self soothe in order for me to push forward and reroute my plans and goals. Unikitty shows brief outbursts but never allows herself to experience any form of negativity. At least not until President Business almost destroys Emmett, the final blow to Unikitty’s hope for a happy society. In this particular scene, she explodes into a flaming, hot red mess of anger. Here we see that negative emotions can sometimes generate the change we are striving to see. Her emotional shift is the reason Emmett is able to break free and continue onwards to defeat President Business.
What does this say about us as a culture? Too often we are pushed into believing that a positive outlook is the only way to move forward. When we show our true emotions we are devalued as people because emotions are looked upon as irrational, and unladylike. But if we’re not allowed to express our reactions, how do we prepare ourselves for failures or learn to appreciate our accomplishments. By taking our emotions, experiencing them, processing and learning how to shift that energy into something new and applicable, a lot more creative thinking and self-appreciation can occur. Unikitty took charge the minute she allowed herself to experience anger from the thought of another failure, and her energy saved Emmett. Happiness isn’t the only key to moving forward, learning how to process a variety of emotions and having the ability to mold them into future building tools is the key to achieving a fulfilled life.