You’re Not Special, Despite What The Lego Movie Tells You

The_Lego_Movie_posterIt’s become a bit of a running joke among the youth and young adults I work with. Before speaking once, I was introduced like this: “This is Brenton Dickieson, and he’s going to tell us all why we aren’t special.” Talk about a buzz kill!

But I really think this is one of the most important messages to the current crop of our best young minds. In a world where technology is designed for immediate access, where 34 seconds is too long to wait for coffee, where flying reindeer aren’t cool unless they also have radioactive noses, and the luminous spectres of Drs. Spock and Phil haunt the timorous parenting of a frightened generation of baby-shepherds, every now and then you need to stop and remember: you are not special.

I’m sorry, you just aren’t.

But, if it is any comfort to you, I’m not special either.

Let me ‘splain…No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Here’s the deal. We can’t all be special, despite what TV has taught us. Just sit there for a minute, and try and have an original thought. If it is a good one, google it, and you’ll notice that someone else has already had that thought. See? You’re not special. Someone is smarter than you, more creative than you, faster than you, and, most likely, harrier than you. Someone probably even look like you, except better. It’s just the nature of the world we live in. You aren’t special. When you storm the castle, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll fail.

This is the problem The Lego Movie falls into. Just at the right moment, our hero, the pretty plain protagonist Emmet Brickowski, is told by the prophet (the whipped cream-voiced Morgan Freeman) that all he has to do is believe in himself and he can be the hero of the world, despite the fact that he is really pretty lame.

lego movie chris pratt emmetThat works in the movie, pretty much. But The Lego Movie isn’t like real life. This is a good thing because real life would be pretty boring to watch in 3D animation: tying shoelaces, filling out forms, reading my blog…. all boring. But because the movie isn’t real life, “just believing in ourselves” probably isn’t going to be enough to defeat a megalomaniacal genius whose ambition is focussed on destroying the whole universe instead of just inventing a new app and becoming really rich, or finally discovering where Waldo really is.

Instead, let me share a shocking idea. You aren’t special. You may even be pretty lame, at least by the standards of Hollywood, or even the standards of the people around you. But you are something. You are not an anonymous cog in the human machine, or an insignificant molecular conglomeration in the crush of space and time, or an obedient figure in the anal retentive sameness of Brickland. In a world where everyone is special, no one is worth consideration.

lego_movie adventureBut you, you are worthy of all consideration, you for whom all of creation lays its cloak upon the Path. Despite the temptation for the world around you to ensure you are lost in the sameness of specialdom, you have a calling upon your life that makes you absolutely unique in the history of the cosmos. It’s true: you aren’t “the most interesting and important person in the universe,” as Emmett is pretending to be. And yet, because of the Path before you, and the One who calls you into that Path, there is a tinge of greatness upon you, a hint of faerie in the air around you. “You have never talked to a mere mortal,” C.S. Lewis once said.

The ancients called this thing Destiny. The mystics called it Vocation. The Bible calls it the Image of the Invisible God. But whatever they call it, it testifies to the fact that God’s imagination for your life is bigger than your own, and far bigger than what Hollywood can create for you.

Or, if you want, you can just go back to being special like everyone else. It’s your choice.

Oh, and I still think The Lego Movie rocks.



About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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11 Responses to You’re Not Special, Despite What The Lego Movie Tells You

  1. Actually, in the Lego movie, Emmitt discovers that the prophecy was made up and he is NOT “the special,” just for full disclosure. He realizes he is a failure, truly, and needs courage to do what needs to be done, no matter what his “importance” is- simply because it is the right thing to do. The Lewis quote I would use for the Lego movie is this- “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” Great movie for teaching us what really matters- and it’s not us.


    • Well done!
      And, if I’m reading the movie properly, it does mock the “sameness” side of things. I would also add creativity to courage. “Courage” as a virtue has the idea of both the flash of courage to do the big thing, as well as the fortitude to stand the longterm pressures, both kinds of strength of character we call courage. Perhaps creativity is another aspect of that courage, a 3rd part.


  2. surefoot says:

    You contradict yourself. If we are created in God’s image, then we each individually reflect the infinite facets of God. And I do believe that every facet of the Ultimate Being is special indeed. Being special simply means unique, no two alike. If you can not differentiate the difference between “special” and “perfect”, the fault lies in your use of the word.


    • Did I use the word “perfect?” I’m missing the link.
      But I thin our difference is in the world special. I think parents use it to me, “I love you and I think you are awesome and whatever you want to do you can do and people shouldn’t stand in your way.” I don’t think that’s what “image of God” means.


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  4. Callum Beck says:

    Great post. I remember a young fellow showing me his hockey trophies. He had about a half-dozen trophies, turns out they were all for participation. I never won a sports trophy in my life until I got one for MVP of a rec softball league (still very low on the special level), while my brother won a couple of dozen real ones. But I am so glad I never got a participation trophy. My brother was a special athlete and I was not, and I was quite okay with that and quite proud of my brother. The biggest heresy of our generation is that we can do whatever we want if we just believe in ourselves and try our hardest.


    • Hmmm. Is that the greatest heresy, or does it take one step further: “I can do whatever I want … and since I can’t do it, something is wrong with the world.” I wonder.
      But I actually won an MVP medal in hockey, scoring what was a pretty good goal when we were getting trounced. Funny story behind it too!
      But the reminder that I am not special happens often enough now that I’m older.


  5. jubilare says:

    How did I miss this one first time around? O_o

    I agree with one exception. Mandy Patinkin is special. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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