The Lego Movie: An Anti-Totalitarian Film

The Lego Movie is an insightful film demonstrating various ideologies that I was not expecting. In class we learned that an ideology is a shared set of values and beliefs that exist within a given society and through which individuals live out their relations to social institutions and structures. One of the ideologies that is a central theme throughout The Lego Movie is what is considered the mass culture and what is “popular”. It is evident that throughout the movie the Lego citizens are controlled by a certain set of standards and are manipulated to follow these ways of life by the antagonist, President Business.

The movie starts by showing the main character, Emmet, and shows how he lives his life on a daily basis, which is exactly the same as every other citizen of the Lego world. They follow an instruction book that tells them what they should do from the moment they get out of bed until the moment they go to sleep. All of the citizens are almost hypnotized in a way by Mr. Business that they are perceived as content and happy with their life and society. The instruction booklet has Emmet (and the other citizens) waking up, getting ready, getting dressed, making breakfast, watching a TV show called “Where Are My Pants?”, listen to a repetitive song called “Everything is Awesome”, and buy overpriced coffee for $37 all while being extremely happy about doing all of these things. The citizens don’t see anything wrong with any of these routine tasks because that is what they are used to. They assume this is the normal way of life and that President Business knows what is best for them and best for their community. All of this goes to show how these citizens are completely brainwashed and are stuck in this lifestyle. President Business wants to keep all of this exactly how it is permanently, so he plans to spray everyone with the most powerful weapon, The Kragle, to achieve perfection in keeping the citizens how he wants them. He calls this day Taco Tuesday so the citizens just think they are being rewarded with tacos for following the instructions, but really there are no tacos involved. In real life the Kragle is actually a part of Krazy Glue. There is a Piece of Resistance that can stop the Kragle and a “Special” person is needed in order to find this piece and stop President Business. Emmet is not a “Special” person but he stumbles upon the Piece of Resistance and is mistaken to be the “Special”. He is then trained to be a “Master Builder” and fight to stop President Business.

The Lego Movie is a satire that is supposed to send its audience an anti-totalitarian message. In an interview with the film’s writers, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, I learned what they were trying to do by using Legos as a medium to tell a story rather than sell the Legos. Even if the children didn’t pick up on the messages, the parents who watched the movie with their children could receive the message and try to relay it on. According to Miller, they “wanted to make an anti- totalitarian film for children. Something that was talking about the importance of freedom and innovation in keeping society honest. We were using it as a Trojan horse to slip in some subversive ideas, under the cover of making a very corporate-friendly family movie” (The Guardian, 2014). They did an efficient job of slipping in subversive ideas but I thought the main ideology displayed was totalitarianism.

Through the character of President Business, we see a dictator who practices totalitarian ways. A totalitarian society is one that is repressive and where the government controls the society. Since the Lego citizens are unaware of the life outside of their city, they don’t realize that there is a better way of life and that it is okay to have individuality. The Legos are supposed to conform to the culture around them so if they don’t feel ecstatic, they still act that way because that is what everyone else around them seems to be doing. When Emmet is exposed to the world outside of his world when is trained to be a “Master Builder” he is at first confused because he had no idea there were other lifestyles and worlds. This also brings up the debate of the two types of people in the movie: leaders and followers. Most of the Lego citizens are just followers and conformists. President Business considers himself the leader and for the most part, as the citizens follow his every command, he is the leader. But when Emmet meets Wyldstyle, the girl who sees potential in him to be a “Master Builder” and stop President Business, he becomes a leader too.

In the end, we are able to see what is going on in the human world is that the Lego playset is being played by a boy named Finn, who is portrayed as Emmet, and his father, Finn, who is supposed to be Mr. Business. Finn and his father come together showing Mr. Business to have a change of heart. The cap the Krazy Glue Kragle and the Legos are able to live freely. Emmet is a hero and the totalitarianism is brought to an end. Back in the human world, Finn’s sister brings alien beams down and announce that they will destroy the Legos. But that’s a whole other story.


Works Cited

Barnes, H. (2014, December 12). The Lego Movie writer/directors: ‘We wanted to make an anti-totalitarian movie for kids’ Retrieved October 01, 2016, from

Gittell, N. (2014, February 12). He Lego Movie: Further Evidence of Will Ferrell’s Subversive Genius. Retrieved October 02, 2016, from


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