Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in literary work. It has been discovered that there is indeed a common theme surrounding both George Orwell’s novel 1984 and the LEGO movie. These pieces of literature serve to warn its readers/audience of the dangers of totalitarianism. Both the movie and the novel portray a “perfect” totalitarian society, where the government has complete and total power and control. When one looks beneath the surface of these “perfect” societies, it becomes evident that they are nothing of the sort.
These “perfect” societies have removed individual expression and has caused everyone to be conditioned to think alike. The citizens are conditioned to meet the needs of their country, and do only what their leadership tells them to. The way in which the society is set up costs them their individuality and humanity. Totalitarianism describes a political system in which the state holds total authority over the society and seeks to control all aspects of public and private life, wherever possible.
With this type of government, there is always a main leader in whom is the driving force of the issue – the one who is in charge of this “perfect society” and runs it as he or she pleases. Orwell uses the Party in representation of the totalitarian government, and Big Brother as the leader. In the LEGO movie, President Business is the leader of the totalitarian government. Part of what makes totalitarianism easy for the leaders’ ideas and concepts to be accepted and not given any thought to is through psychological manipulation.
If the leaders can successfully make the citizens not question their authority, half of their job is done. In 1984, Big Brother uses various forms of mind control on the citizens of Oceania. They exercise this manipulation through the use of large telescreens all around them that continuously displays propaganda and other media that praises the Party – never showing its downfalls, but rather making them as if they never happened. Citizens are given the allusion that Big Brother is perfect and never makes mistakes.
With this knowledge, it becomes easy to fall in line with the Party’s values and not want to rebel. It is a successful way to brainwash and distract the society from the actual problems with the system, as they are only shown what the Party wants them to see. In the same way, in the LEGO movie, the citizens of their society undergo manipulation. The people living in this society are given instructions, and are expected to follow those only – excluding any room for independent thought and creativity.
At different points in the film, the main character Emmett makes statements like “How does everyone know what NOT to do? ” and “What do I do? I don’t have my instructions. ” This shows a lack of independent thought and the inability to initially form it, due to the leadership that is negatively centered. The citizens are expected to only make decisions and do things based on leadership expectations, and never to do anything by their own choice or imagination.
When they are on their own, they have lost the ability to formulate their own ideas and solutions due to the oppressive and controlling government system at work and in place. This idea of psychological manipulation as a way of making totalitarian societies run “perfectly” turns the members of the society into robots, essentially. Therefore, this type of government has a great negative impact on the people under its authority. This can be further extended to ask the question: is one truly living if they are disabled of living free and making their own choices?
Not only does the government control public life, but they control private life as well. Privacy is a basic and essential right of any human being; however, in the society of they deem it necessary to have constant surveillance in all places, even your own home. The telescreens that monitor the people of Oceania are said to “receive and transmit sight and sounds” (Orwell 4) and can be found everywhere. The idea of having this surveillance from every corner is a reminder of the Party’s slogan, which states that “Big Brother is watching you.
” Since so many things are considered to be crimes in this society, there’s not much room for freedom. Similarly, in the LEGO movie, the same system of surveillance is used in that society. President Business is free to monitor the citizens whenever he pleases. President Business says that “all he’s asking for is total perfection,” and goes about achieving this through monitoring the citizen’s building. This movie reveals that although technology is perceived as being beneficial to the moral good, it can also be used for many wrong reasons and have negative effects.
This type of control through surveillance is one that instills fear and changes natural behaviour. Being constantly watched, makes an individual question everything they say or do before they do it; if one knows that all of this is available for the viewer to access, the behaviour would naturally be tainted by the expectation and standards of the one watching. Along with that, the essential right to privacy is being violated. Monitoring and controlling everyaspect of a human being’s life is dangerous to society.