Everything is Awesome!

I’ll do a recap tomorrow. Today I want to talk about the movie I saw yesterday, The Lego Movie.

I believe it was the best 2 hour toy commercial I’ve ever seen. It was inventive and energetic and quite funny. Did you see Wreck It Ralph last year? Same genre.

I recommend it.

Except it bashes you over the head with three or four morals. Bash. Bash. Bash. Not that the movie was ever subtle but it used a giant moral shillelaghs. Bash.

Ever that wouldn’t be so bad if i didn’t vehemently disagree with at least one of the lessons.

Emmet is the hero of the movie. He is The Special from prophecy fated to save the world. But Emmet is not special. He is dim and unimaginative and distinguished only in his lack of distinguishing characteristics.

The Everyman is a common trope. It makes a relatable character. Depending on the story the Everyman might turn out to have a quality and succeed or he might be beaten by the system.

But those aren’t the paths of the Lego Movie. Emmet will succeed, not despite his mediocrity, but because of it. All he needs is belief in himself.

Everyone can be The Special. Even a nerf herder like Emmet.

I dislike this. If everyone is special than no one is. The word loses meaning. We are elevating the mean and diminishing excellence. There is a good reason. We want kids to feel good about themselves. To believe they can be a success. To feel loved.

Contrast that with the Olympics. Over 200 of Canada’s best are competing. And based on one measure we are leading the medal count as it stands this morning.

As kids those Olympians were told they too could be special. They were told they needed to believe. But they were also taught to seek perfection. Taught to win. Taught that belief alone isn’t enough. Drive, hard work, overcoming failure and training are required.

They all go happy to have the honour of competing. But they have all gone to win. To excel.

I saw a clip with McMorris (our first medalist) from just before he injured himself.

“Doing 1440s must push the limits of the human body. What happens if you push too far?” Asked the interviewer.

“That is what hospitals are for,” quipped the snowboarder.

In his next race he broke some ribs. They were still broken when he competed at Sochi and earned a bronze.

Emmet has people who believe in him, but who provide him none of the tools he needs to achieve.

We hate to see people fail. So we are deprecating competition. In doing so we eliminate the winners as well as the losers.

I believe that we all have the potential to be special. To excel. But only the rare few do. That isn’t bad.

Those who excel give us inspiration. Those who fail give us motivation. Those who are content with mediocrity provide nothing. Why encourage kids to that middle path?

The theme song of the movie is “Everything is Awesome.” At first it is used ironically, but at the end it celebrates its message.

“Everything could be awesome if we dig deep and really put our backs into it,” doesn’t have the same ring. I fear for the next generation of Olympians.

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