It requires a certain cultural expertise and freedom to be able to arrange cultural fragments skilfully to new ends. This is reflected in The LEGO Movie, where the most prestigious characters are so-called masterbuilders, people who have the actual ideas for new arrangements and who can build their own creations (MOCs) without instructions. Interestingly, the crime of the film’s villain consists of gluing Lego bricks together so they can no longer be used by someone else or for different purposes. The narrative can thus be read alongside popular critiques of copyright like the one undertaken by Lawrence Lessig (2008) in his book Remix where he states that cultural production has always depended on the usage of existing material and that current copyright and trademark legislations increasingly hinder cultural participation. The glue in the Lego film’s narrative can thus be interpreted as a copyright not flexible enough for creative and out-of-the-box-thinking, a threat to the masterbuilders of our culture. While subtly criticizing a copyright not fit for the digital age of remixing, The LEGO Movie pays homage to older media and to the tangibility of Lego bricks through analog cues.
Einwächter, Sophie Gwendolyn, and Felix M. Simon. 2017. “How Digital Remix and Fan Culture Helped the Lego Comeback.” Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 25.