Perpetuating its favorite ploy of simultaneously riling up and soothing its viewers with its message of victimhood, Fox News now claims that the charming, funny, and very smart “LEGO Movie” is anti-business propaganda, designed to inculcate the next generation into hating capitalism. The absurdity of this assessment is evident on its face — this is a movie that is fundamentally a feature-length informercial for one of the world’s biggest toy brands.
As I have often stated, corporate villains are found in movies in every category and genre. They make convenient villains because everyone knows them, they are impersonal, they don’t have the kind of defenders that various ethnic groups do, and they fit very well in the almost-universal theme of films of the individual against the machine. That does not mean that the people who make films are anti-corporate. On the contrary, films are utterly capitalist enterprises, often costing and making hundreds of millions of dollars. They are produced by corporations and they make a lot of money for the executives and shareholders. They have “partners” — in the case of “The LEGO Movie” the licensing arrangements include McDonald’s, Barnes & Noble, Delta, Microsoft, and Stride-Rite. If corporations think that a movie will make money making some other group the bad guys, they will make it.
However, this is not a movie with a corporate bad guy. While the villain, played by Will Ferrell, is called “Lord Business” or “President Business,” the film’s conclusion makes it very clear that the name comes from an idea that is much sweeter and heartfelt than a generic attack on big, impersonal, companies. It isn’t “The LEGO Movie” that is stuck in a cliched narrative. It’s Fox News.