I saw a little bit on “Talking Movies,” a BBC show about modern cinema, that began, “Is American capitalism under fire from a whole raft of Hollywood studio movies which detractors claim possess an anti-business or anti-corporate agenda?” He then talks about “one of the most successful movies this year” that has “made over $400 million around the world.” He’s talking, of course, about the Lego Movie.
In case you don’t know, the movie and game rights to Lego are owned by Warner Brothers, a subsidiary of Time Warner, one of the Big Six media companies that control 90 percent of all media pumped into American minds.
So when someone says is American capitalism is under fire by the Lego movie, I’m already skeptical. But the branding fascinates me.
While shills like Fox (also owned by a Big Six, News Corp) bemoan the changing culture for the benefit of the more closed-minded, WB celebrates it in commercials and movies about proletarian uprisings. They’re geared toward the more open-minded rest of us. We are fast becoming the majority culture, the vaguely liberal, open-minded bunch. Most of us know something’s wrong with society but can’t articulate it in a holistic sense, then a movie like “The Lego Movie” explains the problems with corporations in solid, if simplistic terms (corporations / machines = bad; creativity / human spirit = good!), then you leave like, “that was fun.” Then when someone talks about how corporations are destroying the world, you’re like, “oh, you mean like the Lego Movie.”
It’s not like you leave thinking revolution and self-governance and taking the power of your own mind back from the corporate colonizers – you leave in a peculiar post-modern state of malaise: “That was fun.” Object – “that over there”; past tense – “it’s over now”; “fun.”
Katrine says it, and I say it to myself all the time when I’m feeling crotchety about advertising, “Fun. The problem is just that. Remember, how did they get us in the first place? Fun. It was with fun.”
Orwell got it right when he coined ”doublethink.” We know that “Everything is Awesome,” the theme song to “Lego Movie,” is a tongue-in-cheek song satirizing corporate culture, but ultimately it’s catchy and we like it. Like how “Gangnam Style” was written to mock the uber-consumerist culture of Gangnam, South Korea, yet it became a global sensation and lost its satirical edge, and for months we had people flaunting their hollowness, singing it completely un-ironically. “I’m an idiot, I know. Isn’t it hilarious? So fun.”
A culture that speaks its demise and its celebration in the same voice encapsulates our psyches, protecting them against any singular voice. This is how “Empire becomes all.” It’s not blocky 1980s dystopic forbidding architecture, not DC subway stations and square government buildings. It’s a consumer-driven empire with lots of choices. People eat the poison that’s given to them and want its antidote, and lo and behold, a cardboard image of that antidote is available in the same big box store / theater / culture.
That’s the brilliance of a movie like WB’s “Lego Movie” – it co-opts the revolutionary impulse by making it fun, by making it a brand. It’s a different sort of poison.
How do they get you? It’s not with a police state; that comes later, when you already have everything you want. Effective propaganda doesn’t beat you over the head with what you don’t want to believe; it knows what you want better than you do and gives it to you for free. It can do this because it created the desire in the first place. If it didn’t, it perceived your own desires before you did and shaped them away from the revolutionary destabilizing action they could have had, toward the safely postmodern image that you can enjoy from your couch. It refined your desires before you even had a say. It’s not your money they want, stupid. Capitalism is dying, and the corporations are leading the charge. It’s your damn heart that’s the next frontier for colonization. The only solution is to know what you want to hear, and say no, I don’t want to hear that from you. I don’t want what I want, if you’re giving it. That heart of irrational negativity can’t be s0ld; it is the anti-corporatist.
We know this…it’s why we drink…