Former President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once said, “I think a dictatorship and hegemony are part of the same phenomenon.” Tony Bennett defines signs of class hegemony as “certain aspects of the behavior and consciousness of the subordinate classes may reproduce a version of the values of the ruling class.” This statement holds a lot of truth. True hegemony is the total sovereignty of mind and body. Marxist hegemony is a focus on the cultural aspects. Gramsci defined this as the ruling class influencing the entire culture of the subordinate class, their thoughts, values, beliefs, and goals. Later on in the reading, Bennett also speaks about the political dependence of the bourgeoisie to the social and ideological relations of the lower class. Hegemony and dictatorship are very closely related, and sometimes interchangeable. This is especially true in The Lego Movie, in every aspect of the film. The ruling class (President Business and his robot minions) affects Emmett and all of society by generating instructions and manuals for the subordinate class (the builders) to follow every day. From the real life actors to the Lego actors, the Lego Movie uses creative filmmaking techniques to portray the protagonist Emmett rising up against the oppressive dictatorship and hegemony of President Business. The Lego Movie uses master builders, naming techniques, and the real life father-son relationship to show the importance of Emmett breaking through the hegemony of President Business’s autocratic and repressive tactics.
In the movie, the master builders show the importance of believing in your own abilities and capabilities, no matter what anyone (or anything) tells you. Emmett, just a simple builder all his life who always did what people told him to do, must break away from the mainstream and believe he was special enough to make it in the world as himself. President Business’s company controls everything and sends out messages on every social media platform preaching his rhetoric on society and the values, opinions, and beliefs that he wants to encourage. His main goal is to make sure everyone does what he wants. His servants, called micro-managers, control everything and in the movie’s case glue everything where it stands. The boy’s father, who is President Business in real life, does this to his son, who is Emmett. The father quarantines off the Legos and doesn’t allow his son to create what he wants to create; and the father only wants things that are comfortable to him and his beliefs. So the father projects his hegemony upon his son, and President Business imposes his will on Emmett and all of his fellow builders and master builders.
Furthermore The Lego Movie uses names and titles to show the true nature of various characters. For example micro-managers (pictured above), who where previously mentioned, also la-la land where the master builders survived when President Business was hunting them. Also the movie mentions particular songs and manuals with telling names such as “Everything Is Awesome” and “Guide To Being Awesome” to name a few. The movie moves on to real life where the father has an epiphany as he looks at what his son created: another version of reality, where he imposed his thoughts and beliefs onto his son so forcefully. President Business controlled all aspects of his Lego’s lives, politically and socially, which is a picture perfect depiction of the cultural hegemony Bennett and Gramsci speak about. Where the political and social elite tries to morph those with less power and influence to move towards a goal that only benefits their personal institutions and beliefs. President Business and the bourgeoisie depended on their voting companies, manuals, and micro-managers to hinder the master builder’s dissent (their creativity). In order to maintain the existing regime, Emmett and his companions must break through the barriers of President Business in order to go into another, creative, and individual world.
In conclusion President Business uses his power and influence to warp the builder’s cultural expectations and desires to his own personal agenda. This exhibit of cultural hegemony can be seen in the names of his employees, songs, and manuals. Also this influencing of ideas, values, and goals can be seen throughout The Lego Movie. Emmett and his fellow builders break the cultural paradigm of organization, and instruction manuals that President Business tries to impose. They break through the hegemony by using their creativity and breaking through the class hegemony to discover what makes them happy as individuals within a harmonious society. It is important to note that the movie also mentions that some instruction is necessary, but not so much that it stifles individual thoughts and ideas.
Bennett, Tony. POPULAR CULTURE AND THE “TURN TO GRAMSCI” Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Oct. 2016.