A TFOL's Response to Greenpeace's LEGO Petition
Generally, I don’t waste my valuable time on petitions senseless as this one. Nevertheless, this fallacious pile of KRE-O has gained considerable circulation in the LEGO Community, and thus merits a well-articulated response.
Let’s break this down piece by piece, starting with the video itself. When the video begins, you will notice the title and background music references the LEGO Movie and its incessant song, “Everything is Awesome.” This is an ironic choice for Greenpeace’s assertions, since the benevolent Octan Corporation, LEGO Town’s fictitious “Big Oil” company is portrayed in an antagonistic light in the film, and has certainly received more publicity than any Shell promotional polybag.
As the video proceeds, you see the inviting Arctic animals, a fisherman, hockey players, and… Halo’s Master Chief. Following a panoramic view of the new wave of LEGO City Arctic sets, the video changes tone as the viewer first notices a Shell chemist, tanker, and finally, a menacing oil platform, recycled from a Cars 2 set, which notably had a rather preachy message about “Big Oil.”
But the most infuriating and stereotypical elements of the film are yet to come. The “executive” Minifigure can be seen smoking a cigar (with a “no smoking” sticker visible behind him, no less.) At the bottom of the oil rig oozes a depressing black liquid. This “oil spill” slowly consumes the LEGO world and its inhabitants, including the distinguished Emmett and Wyldstyle, until only the Shell flag unscathed. Any objective AFOL will notice Greenpeace’s clear appeals to emotion, specifically fear for the vibrant LEGO world and anger directed at Shell and the LEGO Group’s “association.”
We’re just getting started. The description contends to surpass the ludicrosity of the video itself.
“We love LEGO. You love LEGO. Everyone loves LEGO.
But when LEGO's halo effect is being used to sell propaganda to children, especially by an unethical corporation who are busy destroying the natural world our children will inherit, we have to do something.”
Greenpeace apparently needs to check their definitions. Of course colorful plastic bricks and smiling Minifigures have a welcoming aesthetic. But these allegations of the LEGO Group propagandizing on behalf of Royal Dutch Shell plc are not only extreme, but absurd. Children playing with an oil tanker or gas station are not being brainwashed that “Big Oil” or environmental pollution is good. They are merely delivering the LEGO citizens with gas to power their trucks, spaceships, and racecars. These loaded accusations of propaganda are so laughably ironic one could easily mistake this as a work of satire; especially for a claim that can easily be thrust upon Greenpeace itself.
“Children's imaginations are an unspoilt wilderness. Help us stop Shell polluting them by telling LEGO to stop selling Shell-branded bricks and kits today.”
So what is the objective here? By the LEGO Group from discontinuing Shell gas stations and race cars, converting LEGO City into eco-utopia, will the Minifigures suddenly become enlightened and band together against a tyrannical CEO plotting to destroy their way of life? To quote Lord Business, “that’s just a bunch of hippy dippy baloney.”
I am not here blatantly supporting Shell, or “Big Oil.” There are risks involved in any drilling operation, which can potentially be catastrophic on the ecosystem. LEGO Bricks themselves, composed of Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, are partially derived from oil. The LEGO Group is renowned for its environmental awareness and responsibility, and by next decade will be completely sustained by renewable energy. The issue is not the LEGO Group, nor necessarily Shell, but Greenpeace’s exploitation of a responsible corporation and its politicization of a legitimate concern.
Humans must be thoughtful stewards of the world, and potential threats to the environment merit the discussion. Of course businesses will try to make money, and in doing so may jeopardize the environment. Royal Dutch Shell has been endeavoring to create a drilling operation off of Alaska for a few years now, but has postponed until the safety of the operation is elucidated. This issue of drilling in the Arctic should be resolved between Shell and those concerned about environmental safety, but they should leave the LEGO Group out of this. If Greenpeace wants to preserve the “unspoilt” imaginations of children and leave a positive impact on our world, it can start by repudiating this political gobbledygook and withdrawing this petition on the front page of the Greenpeace website.