The Lego Movie: Fascism vs Freedom

The Lego Movie
“Today will not be known as Taco Tuesday, but Freedom Friday!” It was actually WyldStyle that said this.

I saw The Lego Movie with the kids last week, and in a nutshell, it is fun for the whole family, pro-freedom and anti-fascist. I’ll try not to give away any spoilers, and I’m not going to dissect the plot, but I will describe some of the symbolism in the movie, so if symbolism is a spoiler grey-area, don’t read beyond the second paragraph, and come back after you’ve seen the movie.

Many of the so-called conservative media outlets, such as Fox Business, are claiming The Lego Movie is anti-capitalist, but it’s not; The Lego Movie is clearly anti-fascist. In this case, I’m referring to fascism as a totalitarian government that controls finance, industry, and commerce. I understand the confusion, however, since most people nowadays don’t realize how fascist the land of the free ® actually is (Hint for the uninitiated: 9 federal cabinet departments and over 100 federal agencies and commissions control the economy).

<–Possible Spoilers Begin Here–>

Symbolism in The Lego Movie

I’m going by memory here, so the details are fuzzy, and I’m sure I won’t remember everything on the first try, but here are some aspects of the movie that stuck out to me (in no particular order):

  • The antagonist’s name is President Business. (President + Business) = (Government + Corporatism) = Fascism. If the message was anti-capitalist, they would’ve chosen something like Mega Corp Man or Captain Capitalism. President Business’ powers are also described more like governmental powers than corporate powers. He divides Lego nations with borders, crushes dissent with capital punishment, and controls an extensive military-industrial complex. Lastly but most importantly, President Business’ motivation is totalitarian control over society. If the message was anti-capitalist, his motivation would’ve been profit instead of control.
  • Some scenes take place in Cloud Cuckoo Land. If you’ve never heard of that term before, Cloud Cuckoo Land refers to an idealistic place where everything is perfect. In the movie, Cloud Cuckoo Land is pretty much like heaven, where all the creative and free people live. I distinctively remember Unikitty saying there are no rules and “there is no government” there. In other words, in an ideal world, there is no government.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-LzY5SUsKw

  • At some point it’s mentioned that President Business controls all the schools, media and voting machines.
  • President Business likes citizens that are dumbed-down consumers who follow orders (Lego building instructions) and don’t ask questions. There is a lot of satire and parallels to western culture here.
  • The protagonists fight for their freedom in the movie, and the word, freedom, is used. Again, if this had been an anti-capitalist movie, they would have been trying to save the environment from the clutches of monopoly men wearing top hats and monocles. Instead, they fought for their freedom from President Business, who wears a crown with an all-seeing eye and giant boots, which are made for stomping on people.

Those are the most obvious symbols that I can remember off the top of my head, but I’ll update this article in detail after the Blu-ray comes out.

7 Replies to “The Lego Movie: Fascism vs Freedom”

  1. *Spoiler comment*

    I think that it was not pro-freedom, either. Although the thought of freedom is there, it does not support it either. In the one scene where nobody could work together, they had to follow Emmet’s rules in order to infiltrate the corporate building. At Emmet’s return, he was able to build a sleek and balanced mecha as he is aware of the rules that are needed to put the correct pieces together while creating something new out of it. His master builder skills are different to that of Wyldstyle or probably the rest of the crew as they can only see the piece codes while Emmet can not only see the piece codes but see the pieces floating and seeing how they can be put together for maximum purpose. The other master builder’s machines fall apart while Emmet’s withstood the rest.

    I think the movie wants a balance between the idea of control and order, and freedom and creativity as Emmet was a follower through and through and it was by his conformity to society that made the master builders infiltrate the corporate system in the first place.

    1. Thanks for the comment :)

      *spoilers* *more spoilers* *mega spoilers* *SPOILERS* *SPOILERS* *SPOILERS* *SPOILERS*

      I agree, Emmet used his knowledge of instructions more than the other master builders, but it would seem strangely out of character if he completely lost all resemblance of his formal self and became a total rule breaker. Also, it seems like the ghost, the voice of wisdom, talked about being unique and the power of the individual. I don’t remember him talking about balance and order, though my memory could be wrong.

      Overall, I think the emphasis at the end was about freedom, and there was quite a big celebration of it.

      Thanks again. I will definitely keep your comments in mind the next time I see the movie.

      1. Hm, I see what you’re getting at.

        *spoilers*
        I think I messed up the individualism vs conformism together with the facism vs freedom as Emmet is the latter and the Masterbuilders are the former. I get what you’re getting at but why was Cloudcuckooland unable to help itself against the disciplined forces of Lord Business?

        As for the balance and order thing, I see it just discussed a lot because there are movies that completely push aside order and talk about individualism as a more important factor. In the case of the LEGO movie, it allows that even a conformist is okay. The individual of self or the individual that follows, it’s okay. The Masterbuilders’ and Emmet’s ideals bounce of one another as the clashing personalities of the masterbuilders are finally able to work together as a team while Emmet learns the special of the individual. It balances it out well. Also, Emmet’s invention is the only invention I saw that did not break apart.

        1. *SPOILERS*
          That’s a great question. The battle of Cloudcuckooland was lost mainly because they were attacked by surprise, not to mention outnumbered and outgunned. But if you’re referring to the big picture of why they couldn’t defeat President Business for so many years, it could be for a lot of reasons. It could’ve been because they needed Emmet’s special, balanced skill set, like you’re saying. Or it could’ve been because they needed a trigger, or a catalyst, to get things going (like seeing your parents getting kragled). Or it could be because society hadn’t reached its boiling point yet, as it goes with real-world revolutions. People put up with more and more oppression until one day they don’t.

          There could be another factor that never occurred to me until now: religion. The master builders believed in the prophecy, which could represent religion. Their belief made them passive because they were waiting for a savior. It turned out the prophecy was a bluff, but they did get their hero/catalyst.

          Who would’ve known The Lego Movie could be so deep? :D

          1. *spoilers*

            Religion, childhood, consumerism, individualism, conformism, facism, freedom. Holy hell, LEGO movie just these ideas literally pieced together. Not to mention the Man Upstairs bit. You can even say that the Masterbuilders held onto the hope of finding the Piece of Resistance but the prophecy turned into a major lie but it’s also the truth as it gives hope to anyone who found the piece. Even a bland guy like Emmet.

  2. I think Emmet represents a compromise, basically “Yes I must defy President Business and the system as it exists but not every law needs to be destroyed.”

    Basicly hitler was evil and did bad things but not everything he did was wrong.

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