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Balancing Act

Readers sound off on 'Lego Movie' column

Readers react to Feb. 23 column on 'Lego Movie' and its portrait of girls

Heidi Stevens

Balancing Act

March 2, 2014

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"Ironic that your whole column is you being a harpy scold."

That tweet, sent to me by @Kevin4851, seems a fitting launch to a longer dialogue about gender balance in "The Lego Movie," which I wrote about last week ("Movies, TV shows taking all the fun out of being a girl").

I liked the movie just fine. My only complaint is that it leaves girls out of the fun and brings them into the story mostly to act as killjoys.

But enough of my thoughts. Here are yours.

Having taken my nephews (11 and 8) and sister to see "The Lego Movie," I disagree strongly with your analysis. In fact, you sounded a lot like Emily, the character in "Thomas the Tank Engine" who is "a little bossy and thinks she knows best."

In the scene where Emmet hears "blah blah proper name place name back-story stuff," it is because he is so enamored and falling in love with Wyldstyle that he isn't paying attention to her words, only the beautiful, gauzy way she looks.

What would the movie be without Wyldstyle? A buddy movie perhaps, but not nearly as much fun. She is the one who can build whatever is needed when Emmet is staring into space. She is strong and willing to act on her strength, not hide it. She also sees Batman's character for who he is: a self-centered guy who is never going to put her needs above his own.

At 61, I spent my childhood watching Snow White and Sleeping Beauty falling asleep and waiting for some prince to rescue them. I would have killed for a role model like Wyldstyle.

— Linda Trytek

I saw "The Lego Movie" with my 7-year-old Lego-loving daughter. We were both disappointed by the constant references to Wyldstyle's boyfriend, and the hair-tossing scenes were just awful. It may have been meant as funny for adults, but to me, it just encouraged the young boys in the audience to tune out anything a girl says and focus on her appearance. Lego had a great opportunity to market to girls, to make a prominent female the main character, and they blew it. They turned a kids movie into a pathetic love triangle. Makes you wonder who this movie was targeting, and if they paid attention to the messages they were sending to the kids who would see it.

— Gabrielle New

That girl character who is "hilarious, mischievous, brave, joyful and relatable"? Pippi Longstocking. I think I'll booktalk that one to my second-graders this week. I've got a huge poster of her in my library — carrying a horse over her head.

— Kristen Anderson

With my wife and I having raised a daughter and son, a lot of your experiences hit home. I want to suggest two movies — a young girl is the strength of both movies. "Whale Rider" runs the gamut from despair to determination to triumph to appreciation. And in "In America," the older daughter with the camcorder is the quiet strength and narrator of the movie. Look for the line toward the end: "I've been carrying this family on my back." It took me three viewings to pick that up. Go figure.

— Bill Huss

I too was disappointed that WyldStyle was reduced to a nag and an object, and it was disappointing to see Emmet tune her out to watch her hair wave in the wind. Then there was the weird portrayal of her relationship with Batman.

But in the end, what was most objectionable to me about the whole storyline is that it's supposed to be the imagination of a kid who looks to be somewhere in the 8- to 12-year-old range. Maybe there are some boys that age who would imagine that sort of plot, but even if they did imagine a romantic plot line, it wouldn't have that kind of adult detail and stereotyping.

I did enjoy the movie, but it was disappointing that after all of the conversations people have had about Lego, the film went for the least common denominator and persistently diminished a fabulous female protagonist.

— Emily Sexton

hstevens@tribune.com

Twitter @heidistevens13