Laura Mulvey said, “It is said that analyzing pleasure, or beauty, destroys it.” This quote accurately represents some of the ideologies taught in MACS 320. Most of the time not much thought is given about gender roles, ideology, fantasy or desire, while watching a movie. Usually people would mainly focus on following the storyline, how gorgeous the celebrities on screen were, or how they would be able to land a guy like the lead female in the movie did. It goes unnoticed how much cinema can objectify women or how the woman is symbolically castrated. After watching The Lego Movie, which was written and directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, some of these concepts are used to further understand how Wild Style, the female protagonist, played a crucial role in working against the storyline, while also provoking Emmet, the male protagonist, to sustain him on his mission.
“The presence of woman is an indispensable element of spectacle in normal narrative film, yet her visual presence tends to work against the story line, to freeze the flow of action in moments of erotic contemplation,” said Laura Mulvey in her article Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. What this means is that, although Wild Style’s role in the movie was pivotal, her character also caused a pause in some important, story building scenes. For example, at one point of the film, Emmet is about to be killed by being melted. Suddenly, Wild Style jumps in to save him. In this dangerous situation, Emmet stops thinking about the situation at hand and stares at Wild Style. The camera goes in slow motion, as Emmet is at a loss for words as he stares at Wild Style with his mouth open, objectifying her. “So, ugh, didn’t catch your name,” is all the Emmet could get out at the moment. Wild Style’s physical presence worked against the story line, halting an essential battle scene. Another great example of how the female character forms a distraction to the situation at hand, is when Wild Style has to explain to Emmet how the world works and important information about the villain, Lord Business. As she started talking, explaining to him how Lord Business is attempting to take over the world, the camera, again, slows down and lovey music begins to play in the background. Emmet zones out everything that she is saying and sees hearts floating above her head. All that we hear her say is, “blah, blah, blah, background stuff, blah, I’m so pretty, I like you, and I’m angry at you for some reason.” This “freeze to the flow of action,” shows how although Wild Style’s character is important, she also acts as a distraction to the larger issue at hand in the movie.
“What counts is what the heroine provokes, or rather what she represents. She is the one, or rather the love or fear she inspires in the hero, or else the concern he feels for her, who makes him act the way he does. In herself the woman has not the slightest importance,” said Budd Boetticher. What he means by this is that, the actions of the male protagonist are based on what he feels for the female protagonist. The story line revolves around the actions that the male takes because of the way the female makes him feel. Whether it be love, hatred, or fear, we can relate these actions back to the female. We can see an example of this in the movie when Wild Style continually tells Emmet he isn’t good enough to be “The Special One.” She constantly tells him how her boyfriend is strong and tough and can do everything better than he does. This provokes Emmet to work harder, think better, and try to push himself to be “The Special One.” Eventually, Emmet proves himself, but he wouldn’t have become “The Special One,” if his feelings for Wild Style weren’t there and if Wild Style wasn’t pushing him to be the best.
The Lego Movie, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, and this assignment have given me the opportunity to really dig deeper into the world of cinema and different ideologies that go along with it. One aspect of this that goes unnoticed is how the female identity has so much symbolism behind their character. The female characters are thought to be the passive ones, the ones that need saving, and the objects of desire. They are the ones that are the source of the male character’s actions. At first glance we don’t always see how important these female characters are, but after analyzing the movie, we see how every action and every thought cause the male’s character to act in a very specific way. In years to come, hopefully that eventually the female is not just looked at as the passive one or the object of desire, but rather the warrior or the heroine that saves the day.
Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Visual and Other Pleasures (1989): 14-26. Web.