Searching for “The Special”. The LEGO® Movie and the Value of (LEGO®) Persons

Alexander Quanbeck

As the evil President Business and his army of robots storm LEGO® Mountain to seize the Kragle, the blinded guardian Vitruvius prophesies:

One day a talented lass or fellow;

A Special one with face of yellow,

Will make the Piece of Resistance found,

From its hiding refuge underground.

And with a noble army at the helm,

This Master Builder will thwart the Kragle and save the realm,

And be the greatest, most interesting, most important person of all times. All this is true, because it rhymes.

Despite the comedic rhyming, Vitruvius’s notion of the “The Special” introduces what will be a central motif for the rest of the film.

As it turns out, the one who finds this “Piece of Resistance” is not quite the hero he was expected to be. Emmet, a construction worker with no close friends, no special talents, and no good ideas, describes himself as “not all that smart. And I’m not what you’d call the creative type. Plus, generally unskilled. Also, scared and cowardly.” His low opinion of himself reflects the attitude that others take toward him. Throughout the film, others suggest to Emmet both implicitly and explicitly that he brings nothing of value to any particular individual or to society, and that consequently he himself has no value.

LEGO® and Philosophy: Constructing Reality Brick By Brick, First Edition. Edited by Roy T. Cook and Sondra Bacharach.

© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Published 2017 by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Mindlessly accepting President Business’s norms of value, Emmet initially views his value as something extrinsically conferred by the value judgments of others. Unvalued by others and convinced that he is lacking in all of the qualities befitting “The Special,” Emmet fears that he is really a worthless person. Only when he finally discovers that value is an intrinsic reality that does not depend upon others’ beliefs, attitudes, or actions does Emmet find that he is indeed “The Special.”

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