work in progress in social theory and cultural sociology

Lego-the-Movie and the expropriation of the brickolariat

03.06.2014 · Posted in Uncategorized

Seen the Lego movie – fascinating! What at first side comes across like a full endorsement of Adorno’s critique of the culture industry (produced by the culture industry itself) and paints an image of a totalitarian capitalism that has lost its creative edge (represented by the evil Lord Business) ends in a hug between the worker/consumer-turned-designer (“prosumer”) Emmet and the redeemed no-longer-evil-and-actually-a-creative-genius Lord Business; thus establishing a full “communism of capital” (Virno). The general intellect developed by the brickolarians in the film (and those in the audience) when following the building instructions and then going off-plan making their own creation is re-appropriated by the corporation. The Schumpeterian function of the enterpreneur – innovation as creative destruction – is outsourced via crowd-sourcing (such as, in real life, via Lego Cuusoo)

(I will present on this at the German Sociological Association’s Conference 5th to 10th October in Trier Abstract)


3 Responses to “Lego-the-Movie and the expropriation of the brickolariat”

  1. enjoyed watching though… (and I want that ghostbuster car for xmas)

  2. Daniel Smith says:

    So a Brickolarian is a bricoleur? (or is that language magic?)

  3. 🙂
    word magic – moi? jamais! – just a humble pun to bring to the point the transformation from Taylorised/consumerised proletarian to revolutionary bricoleur… and back into the capitalist fold.
    The recapture of the brickolarian bricolage is brought to the point by the fact that the designs they buy in from the bricoleurs are turned into straightforward “follow the instructions” models for the toy shops. Even the models derived from the film itself come with only some pretence creativity – you can build two instead of one versions. A bit short of the endless possibilities proposed by the makers of the film (and by the prophet of Lego, Vitruvius, in the film) :

    “Chris McKay: That’s what we set out to do. We wanted to make the film feel like the way you play, the way I remember playing. We wanted to make it feel as epic and ambitious and self-serious as a kid feels when they play with LEGO. We took something you could claim is the most cynical cash grab in cinematic history, basically a 90 minute LEGO commercial, and turned it into a celebration of creativity, fun and invention, in the spirit of just having a good time and how ridiculous it can look when you make things up. And we had fun doing it.”

    But then – the real Vitruvius was in the pay of the Empire already

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