My take on the LEGO movie

by eringoodman on February 9, 2014

in essays+reflections, mixed media

 

On Friday night, with our obligatory $5 bag of popcorn in hand, we settled into the back row of the theater, which my seven-year-old thinks are the very best seats.

We were there — along with the rest of the packed theater — to see the LEGO Movie.

Prior to going, I had watched the trailer and had heard from my son how very awesome the movie was going to be. I was excited to be there with him on opening night and had an  open mind about the movie, which I’ll admit would not be one I would see if it weren’t for the gentle prodding of my son for weeks leading up to the release.

Over the years, my beloved son has helped me to stretch out of my comfort zone with his love for video games and all things “shooting.” A couple of weeks ago, while visiting Dave and Buster’s, I even joined him for a few rounds of a zombie shooting game, which previously I would have not allowed.

(We started with a “no shooting games” rule, which was later adapted to “no shooting humans” so a game that involves shooting ghost-like skeletons or animated robots is now on the approved list.)

Remaining conscious of the impact of violence, even animated violence, while at the same time respecting our son and his interest in being part of pop culture is a fine line – one that we are walking with great care.

And so there we were, on opening night, at the LEGO  Movie and when the theater darkened and the no cell phones reminders came on, the excitement was palpable.

Everything was great. The movie was hilarious and the children’s laughter in the theater was a balm to the soul. And then about 15 minutes in, the “bad guy” entered and things got a little, shall we say, intense.

I am a Highly Sensitive Person and I realize that I experience on screen violence in a way that is more intense than the average person, but still the basic story line of the movie is Armageddon in LEGO land.

It was animated. It was LEGOs. But still, I couldn’t help but wonder why the movie had to be so violent.

Are we not yet making the connection between the diet of increasingly violent images that we are feeding our children and our distraught over the increase of violent actions taken by teenagers and young adults?

* * *

So what was my son’s take on the violence in the movie?

The next morning, I initiated a conversation about it to see how he had been affected by the hundreds of explosions  and all the shooting throughout the movie.

Me:

“I was a little surprised by how violent the movie was. There was a lot of  ‘blowing up’ that happened. What did you think of that?”

His response:

“Seriously, mama? It’s LEGOs. If you blow them up you just put them back together again. No big deal.”

The truth — as it often does — probably lies somewhere in the middle of “no big deal” and “way too violent” and each family will have to make a decision that is right for them, but I do think this is a conversation worth having.

Your turn. Did you see the LEGO movie this weekend? What do you think?


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Robin Heim February 11, 2014 at 9:49 am

Sometimes we just have to just practice discernment, pray, and move forward. We can’t shield our sweet children from everything and, really, to do so gives them a false sense of how the world really is. We also have to trust ourselves in that we’ve led, and continue to lead, with wisdom and by example. As parents and grandparents it’s easy for us to cringe at anything remotely violent in nature — but nature, well, sometimes it’s not pretty — and in order to appreciate beauty and peace, we must understand that the ugliness and chaos exist, too.

A great book to read on violence and children is http://www.amazon.com/Killing-Monsters-Children-Make-Believe-Violence/dp/0465036961/ref=sr_1_25?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392129793&sr=1-25&keywords=fighting+monsters. We can’t send children out into the world unprepared for what it holds. I think the Lego movie is, perhaps, a good way to open up the subject of violence and war for parents to talk through with their young children.

If you’ve even been to a Monster Jam truck event, well, there really isn’t much difference between the Lego movie, or taking your children to see Big Ass Trucks with Big Ass Wheels drive over buses and “get air” on jumps, only to crash down, lose wheels, and have truck body parts flying through the air. And yet, I think the children understand that is a huge difference between that and a car accident where people are hurt severely or killed.

Take heart, Mama, you’re doing okay. :)

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eringoodman February 13, 2014 at 11:18 am

“Sometimes we just have to just practice discernment, pray, and move forward.”

Thank you for this. Interesting that you bring up Monster Jam as my husband has taken our son to see that event (and he loved it!) and I very much appreciate your point about children being able to distinguish that intentional destruction from an actual accident.

I think another thing to remember is that this movie is rated PG, which means it’s intended for viewing with Parental Guidance, so it is expected that parents are watching it with and talking about it with their children.

Thank you for the link to the book. I appreciate it. And thanks for your encouragement. It’s much appreciated.

Love + Light…
Erin

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Heidi February 14, 2014 at 7:22 pm

Hi Erin – As a highly sensitive person, I totally relate. In fact, every time the Lego Movie commercial comes on I get extremely anxious by the quick pace, startle effects, and volume alone. It scares me to think of how many kids are desensitized to these types of movies, TV shows, games, etc. Just look at some of the daytime TV commercials – monsters, zombies, sex, etc. There are studies that show how much this type of viewing (violence or not) can REALLY mess with their little developing brains. Scary stuff…yet it seems unavoidable. It’s so hard to find that balance of letting our kids experience life and maintaining their innocence. Glad I’m not the only one worrying about this stuff :).

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eringoodman February 15, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Oh no. You are definitely not alone, Heidi. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

~Erin

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amy February 28, 2014 at 10:05 am

We liked it. This is similar to the way my boys, especially, play with LEGO–there’s a bad guy, something gets blown up, lots of sound effects. The intrusion of the humans reinforces, I think, that it’s play. It would be a different movie without the scenes in the real-life basement.

A long, long time ago I read an essay that helped me reconcile the way my boys, especially, played, with their make-believe bad guys and seeming violence. Pretend play is one way kids make sense of the world, and even young children have very real fears about the world they’re in, one over which they have very little control. I’m not even talking about what we adults perceive as threats to our children, but their own perceptions: monsters, the lack of control–kid fears (no less real for belonging to kids). Pretend play gives them a feeling of control over these things. The bad guys get vanquished. The good guys win. The monsters get rehabilitated. Magic exists. There is a real and valuable place for this.

So no, I don’t think the LEGO movie was over-violent given the context it was placed in (the boy directing what was going on). If anything, its danger lies in the sneaky way LEGO is driving its own marketing. ;)

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susan catherine March 15, 2014 at 10:12 am

Hi Erin,
My boy is now 14 and not interested in it at all. (!?) sooo we seemed to have cleared that particular bar. However, I have had the same conversations, and the same frustrations and the same learning pattern as yourself and am secretly thrilled that I am not alone being the fab, liberal, loving mama that I am :) I love Amy’s reply, yes this is their way of working out the demons of the world and magic does exist. I also believe unerringly that our input on our sons of that magic, redemption of love is imprinted forever. They came to us for a reason and we are here for that purpose only; to teach that darkness is won over by communication, honesty, willingness to not give up, to punch some pillows, walk away, acknowledge that someone is maybe more messed up than you and let it go, find your manhood and strength apart from the experience of superior domination…and maybe some where down the road, they will feel for that messed up person and share something of such value that the little kinks in their armor will soften and melt. At some point down the road of lifetimes, each exchange adds up and souls are released into truth of Who they Are.

I remember after doing a healing years ago in NYC and I was on my first date with my future husband, we went to a Clint Eastwood whodunnit movie. There was a point when a man was shot between the eyes. I bent over and nearly vomited and stumbled out of the theater. I had been in such a high state with angelic energy that the experience hit me as if I had been the one who had been shot and the shooter! It took days, weeks for me to recover. Sigh. Life here on planet earth. GEEZ!… I am the one who must learn how to dance with the dark and own my own darkness. THEN I’m not so violently affected but instead can hold a more compassionate view of my son. <3 tough life lessons indeedy, and I am so grateful for your sharing this particular dilemma of sensitive mamas~ :D

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eringoodman March 26, 2014 at 1:27 pm

Thank you for your thoughtful reply, Susan. I appreciate it greatly.

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Emine April 29, 2014 at 4:26 pm

Hello Elise. What a very interesting and eriutde post.Without wishing to be difficult, a quick glance at Facebook’s Privacy Policy () says very clearly: No information from children under age 13. If you are under age 13, please do not attempt to register for Facebook or provide any personal information about yourself to us. If we learn that we have collected personal information from a child under age 13, we will delete that information as quickly as possible. If you believe that we might have any information from a child under age 13, please contact us through this help page. Similarly, Twitter’s policy () says Our Services are not directed to people under 13. If you become aware that your child has provided us with personal information without your consent, please contact us at . We do not knowingly collect personal information from children under 13. If we become aware that a child under 13 has provided us with personal information, we take steps to remove such information and terminate the child’s account. So, do make sure you talk to your parents before signing up for services that aren’t aimed for you. Good luck.

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