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“Let’s Take Extra Care to Follow the Instructions”

The key to understanding what is problematic about The Man’s behavior lies in considering his inflexible attitude toward following a particular kind of rule: the construction instructions accompanying his various LEGO sets.

Of course, merely following these instructions is not, in itself, morally problematic, and it is clear that the makers of The LEGO Movie don’t intend us to believe anything of the kind. After all, the film itself spawned a range of LEGO sets complete with detailed construction instructions that LEGO enthusiasts are, presumably, encouraged to follow. Further, even within the movie itself, unexpectedly, and somewhat reluctantly, following a set of construction instructions plays a vital part in Emmet’s friends’ eventual victory. One difference, of course, is that for the Master Builders, acting in this way is the exception rather than, as in The Man’s case, the rule. Yet, even consistently following the instructions which come with your LEGO sets need not imply any problematic character traits. Many happy LEGO fans of all ages confine themselves exclusively, or almost exclusively, to builds that follow the construction instructions to the letter. While I personally have never seen the appeal of such an approach, it doesn’t constitute a moral failing. The problem, then, is not the fact that The Man follows the rules nor even the extent to which he does so. Rather, I suggest, The Man’s central flaw lies in his instantiating a problematic kind of rule worship.

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