Gender stereotypes abound in children’s film
By Julia Siedlanowska, Staff Writer
Totally, utterly, and completely gender-stereotyping, The LEGO Movie placed its only significant female character in a girlfriend role to the hero instead of giving her a chance to be his equal. Wyldstyle, a rambunctious and rebellious female LEGO character, not only begins her journey as the crush of the male protagonist, but also ends her journey as his prize.
Any positives in the movie, like its great sense of humour and (some) self-awareness, were completely overshadowed for me by the gender imbalance and stereotyping. Throughout the film, Wyldstyle (voiced by Elizabeth Banks) aids the male protagonist, an ordinary construction worker named Emmet (Chris Pratt), in essentially saving the world from the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell). While she is repeatedly told that she should be the “Special”—a Lego person who is prophesied to save the world—and is evidently more skilled and capable than Emmet, she ends up as a mere prize for him after he miraculously accomplishes his tasks. In the end, Wyldstyle’s only credit in saving the day is the prized role of wifey.
The film’s action-packed adventure and simple message of “Be yourself, be creative” has effectively washed away most criticism of its sexism. Except for the many feminist online blogs, I haven’t heard anything but great reviews, including a 96 per cent rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website.
In her blog, “Reel Girl” describes her exasperation with the “minority feisty.” Lego Movie is just another case of providing a feisty female character to distract from the film’s gender imbalance and aid the protagonist in achieving his goal.
After posting my qualms with the film online, a friend of mine asked, “What would you have done differently?”
First off, I would not have Wyldstyle be the love interest and I would not have her character put up with her boyfriend, Batman. Secondly, I would make her the hero instead of Emmet.
The film ends in the non-animated “real” world, with the whole story being created in the mind of a child—a male child. The only females mentioned in the real world are the little boy’s mother (who has a line about dinner being ready) and his sister, who is predicted to destroy the boy’s creations as younger sisters do. In my version, I would have the brother and sister already playing together at the end instead of regurgitating and reaffirming the established “male creator” idea.
Many people raise the argument that LEGO is mostly played with by boys, hence the movie’s focus and stereotypes. But this seems like a good reason to make the girl the main—or at least equal—protagonist in order to teach the male audience that girls can be heroes too. The fact that this isn’t even an option to the filmmakers is disturbing to me because it shows the film industries’ inability to look beyond its conventional norms into equal opportunity for women to be the hero.
Wyldstyle is strong in the beginning, but in the end it’s like the creators of the film didn’t really know what to do with her so they shoved her into an acceptable stereotype and called it a day. These are the gender stereotypes that Hollywood is imparting to the next generation and that’s infuriating, if you ask me.