Lego has taken some flack lately for its skimpy offering of toys for girls, thanks to one very observant seven-year-old girl who had the courage to speak up and write them a letter. She pointed out that in the toy aisles the Lego toys targeted to girls are, how should I put this…lame.
7yo Charlotte writes an adorable and strongly worded letter to LEGO regarding the lack of adventures for girls. pic.twitter.com/JblNKzCwJs
— SocImages (@SocImages) January 28, 2014
Lego is working to include girls in their vision, but it’s struggling to figure out how. In the new Lego movie now in theaters, the filmmakers tried hard to make a female sidekick/love interest, Wildstyle, who was “kick*ss.”
In spite of being made of Legos, Wildstyle’s personality wasn’t totally flat, and on that note, neither was her cleavage. Here’s where I start to have a problem. She is made of bricks and for most of the movie is wearing a hoodie. The filmmakers felt obligated to draw an hour-glass figure and very large breasts on the Legos to define her torso. They’re Legos, but the filmmakers have just got to make the female protagonist sexy, no matter what. And this is important to their audience of seven-year-old boys because…why?
This rubs me the wrong way. It got worse when, during the Wild West scene, the filmmakers put her in a tight corset with even more accentuated cleavage and transformed her into a saloon girl, then she and Emmet entered a saloon full of saloon girls (Lego does know that saloon girls are hookers, right?). The kicker was when Wildstyle spat tobacco into a spittoon.
Here’s the thing, I really like that they gave Wildstyle all those martial arts and kickboxing moves. I like it that she gets to save Emmet on more than one occasion. I even have a friend who claims that her scene with Emmet at the end of the movie made her cry.
Yet the filmmakers shouldn’t undercut these qualities by sexualizing Wildstyle too much. She a Lego, for God’s sake!
The movie also made jabs at women, referring to the “overbearing assistants” (portrayed as women, of course) who are part of the impenetrable defenses of an office building the characters need to take over. There is also the stereotypical cat lady with a hundred cats. The part about one of the character’s having an annoying little sister who ruins everything is forgivable, considering the film’s core audience, and yet it would be so cool if girls were shown playing with Legos in a way that wasn’t incompetent.
Some will probably think I’m nitpicking over tiny details, but I really think these details are important, because they are part of the story and girls will be paying attention.
Overall, the movie felt like a giant endless commercial for Lego showcasing every Lego theme ever manufactured. The movie can be enjoyed by kids 6 and up. There is a lot of violence, shooting, etc., but it’s somehow mitigated by the fact that they are Legos.
I didn’t like the movie, but my daughter loves it and is now running around singing “Everything is Awesome,” the movie’s theme song. Girls like her are on Lego’s radar now. I just hope that now that Lego is thinking harder about making cool and awesome toys for girls, that they will also think about how girls and women are portrayed in the Lego movie and any upcoming sequels.
I really hope they respect and embrace this new market. Then everything really will be awesome.