Thoughtful Thursday: How the LEGO movie is The Matrix for a New Generation

Thoughtful ThursdayOne day on Christmas break, after Muffin sliced open the underside of his toe and could not get up from the couch except to go to the bathroom, we watched The Lego Movie…well…I lost count of how many times (one right after the other) after five times.  Did I mention that it is Muffin’s absolutely favorite movie?  And the present he was most excited about?  Out of all of his Christmas presents?  And that he calls it “Everything Is Awesome” movie?

Yes.  That’s my world.  I would expect many, many LEGO movie posts coming your way in the next few weeks.  Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Today’s topic came to me as I was watching the movie for the…fourth time, I believe, although it solidified for me Tuesday.  Back when I was being bored out of my mind in my college philosophy course, our professor (a disgruntled attorney…who was disgruntled about being an attorney) told us to watch The Matrix.  I had never seen The Matrix.  And…fourteen years later…I can safely say (and this is after The Matrix being one of Josh’s favorite movies) that I have never seen The Matrix.  Don’t get me wrong.  I was one of the “good kids” who actually read the books assigned in school.  And I have great appreciation for the representational surrealist belief of appearance (an image) versus reality (yay, Magritte!  I joke that my next child will be named Magritte as a girl so that I can call her Maggie–and have a child named Rene and Magritte.  I may be a bit obsessed there.  Those who witnessed the first museum show in which I actually got to be within breathing distance of an actual Magritte work–and not The Treachery of Images–you know, the pipe one–and witnessed the tears and hysteria that ensued–think the hysteria and tears that a Belieber portrays if they are within touching distance of Justin Bieber.  Yes, I cried, tears running down my face in the awe of being near an actual Magritte work.)

Anyway…now that I’ve scared away most of you (and my sister is howling in laughter from the memory)…I can appreciate the Platonic idea in The Allegory of the Cave.  For some reason, I always end up reading the most boring translation.  But I can appreciate it.  I’m assuming (and going out on a limb) that The Matrix of a fake world fooling people that it’s an actual world and reality is kinda the same thing.

But again…while trying to keep a four-year-old stationary on the couch all day and occupied with watching The Lego Movie, I may have found way too many parallels between The Lego Movie and The Matrix (keeping in mind that I haven’t seen it).  My son may one day watch The Matrix.  But many tweens and even teens have no concept of it.  So, for them, I think The Lego Movie will be their modern example of The Allegory of the Cave.  The world that the LEGO characters believe is real actually being an artificial construct of a child in our reality.  Having no real control over their actions because the boy (and later his father…and not to spoil the ending…at the end, his sister) controls all things that happen.

Yes, I may have put way too much thought into this.

Tuesday, in researching dystopian literature to present to my class as we begin reading Fahrenheit 451, I discovered another disturbing Matrix/Lego Movie parallel:  they are both dystopias.

Now, for those individuals that I did not make angry with my announcement that I have never watched The Matrix, I’m probably really going to upset now.  In general, I do not like dystopian literature.  I like Fahrenheit 451.  That…yup…that may be it.  I’m okay with Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm.  I’m sort of okay with Anthem.  But I am really not the hugest Hunger Games fan or Divergent fan.  For me, literature is escapism.  I do not deal well with the creepy distopias portrayed in dystopian literature.  That may be a huge reason why I am not chomping at the bit (decades later) to watch The Matrix.

But…as I get ready to make sure that our Flixster copy of The LEGO Movie is dowloaded and ready to go to my work laptop (which, incidentally, is my home laptop…and the laptop I am presently typing this entry on), the dystopian elements shout out at me:  President Business as the power-hungry ruler, the pacification of the masses (Everything Is Awesome), the push to conform, and the ever-so-present surveillance (not to mention the police state patrolled by Good Cop/Bad Cop).  Am I the only one that sees this?  And, in a shocking parallel to Fahrenheit 451:  instead of the motif of fire that plays out on the pages of Bradbury’s work, The LEGO Movie uses immobilization through super glue as a punishment.

So, in fourteen years when Muffin and his peers head off to college and take their first philosophy course, I have this feeling (one that I’m actually okay with, oddly enough) that The LEGO Movie will be on their syllabus.  And my freshmen will probably look at me as if I’ve lost my mind in a few days when I present The LEGO Movie as a dystopian counterpart for them to ponder.

Have a happy Thursday, everyone!


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