The Lego Rebellion, Vladimir Putin and the “You Might Be Gay” Dinner Conversation

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About Mark Greene

GMP Senior Editor Mark Greene is an Emmy Award winning animator and designer. He blogs and speaks on Men's Issues at the intersection of society, politics, relationships and parenting for the Good Men Project, HLN, Talking Cranes, The Shriver Report, The Huffington Post, Mamamia and Role Reboot. You can follow him on Twitter @megaSAHD and Google.
Click here to read more GMP articles by Mark Greene. Get Mark's fully illustrated children's book FLATMUNDER for iPad from iTunes about kid's fears and the power of play. For kids ages 4-8.

Comments

  1. THANK YOU for calling Lego out! As someone involved in marketing for a living, I applaud Lego’s ability to rebrand themselves for new generations, but yeah, it’s getting out of control.

    Oh, and also — great convo with your kid about knowing gay people/being gay. Gives me hope! :)

    • Thanks, Brent. Yeah, I mean, we both know its about teaching kids to enjoy with they have instead of always looking to what’s next, but the viral marketing influence of other kids at school is FREAKIN’ POTENT. (sigh.) Thanks again for the comment.

      • Mark,

        I came to this thread wondering what the person who very articulately talked about the importance of platonic touch had to say about LEGO and unlike the well informed piece on touch and sexuality I found a thin, ignorant, letter to the editor style rant.

        I can perceive, behind the bitching, that underneath this front of ‘up in arms’ liberator, is a man who clearly loves his son and feels very pressured by his sons interest, fandom or even perseveration to want to give him everything, and can’t, and feels this is the object of his interests’ fault for being, well, plainly, AWESOME.

        LEGO’s marketing is simply an extension of how well their designers and artists put together excellently themed imagination zones that really, unlike many companies, caters to the wants and needs of its public. Sure it’s a commercial juggernaut, but at least it’s real. I’d rather you spend $74.98 on The Goblin King’s Lair and build it with your son and watch him trip all the traps on the daring dwarves as he plays with it for hours than to cave and buy him Grand Theft Auto 5.

        LEGO is still a building system. The fact that it can accomodate so many themes is a testament to how GOOD it is, not how BAD it is. LEGOLAND, coming at you? I am glad for it. When I was 8 I dreamed of going to Billund but knew I never would. Now I’m glad to say that if I really wanted to go back to LEGOLAND California (which is getting a little tired looking actually, but is still amazing) I could drive there if I wanted. When we were young there were dumb old bricks in like 8 colors. Now there are a myriad of shapes and sizes and forms and functions in 121 official colors (plus a few rare discontinued ones). That sound of lego being sifted, that’s grushtelling (trust the Germans to name it). But the fact that you step on LEGO is where I know you are just plain DOING IT WRONG.

        FIRST: LEGO deserves respect. By respecting LEGO with your son you “responsibilitize” the activity. LEGO needs a special space like modeling does. It needs a table, or tray to work on so that it can be cleared quickly. It needs bags and bins to allow it to be sorted,not just tossed together willy-nilly. It needs a shelf so that creations, either bought or self-made (MOCs) can be displayed. If you create routines around LEGO that demonstrate respect it will be returned to you from your son tenfold, because he will honor your honoring of his (probably) favorite pastime.

        My three rules:
        1. No LEGO on the floor (or outside) unless it’s on a tray lid or other lipped building space (or mat or blanket).
        2. No LEGO in your body or around food. (Sticky LEGO? Yuck!)
        3. There are no other rules. Enjoy!

        If you want a LEGO Rebellion, we are here. We are the LUGS (LEGO Users Group), AFOLs (Adult Fans of LEGO) who both use and subvert LEGO, like Brendan Powell Smith. We post the instructions of every set, we sell the parts off individually, we share designs and pictures of our ‘We did it better than the kit’ and we even make our own pieces.

        So, before you call your resistance movement to arms, acknowledge what that would do to your relationship with your son. When you tell him there’s a Christmas without LEGO, it will be like when you have to explain there’s no Santa Claus.

        Just be smart.

        Don’t Cave and buy some ridiculous Chima set. Go online and get the Lion dude’s head for a buck and then hit your local LEGO hobby shop and get some awesome wheels and stuff and give it to him with a jumbo pack of baggies and plastic bins from Dollar Tree and sit down with him and say “hey, I think this can be Doozor, Lionface’s cousin. What kind of pants does he wear? (get digging and hey look, blue legs – jeans, that’s cool.) He found these awesome wheels in the Chima Swamp. What kind of vehicle does he have? Then get digging, or grushtelling (count on the Germans to name that sound) TOGETHER.

        You can be HERO Dad on a budget. You just have to give it your mind and heart.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwQqkX3qZak

        Admittedly, I am biased. I am an AFOL, LUGGER, Educator and FIRST LEGO League coach. When I saw what kids could do with the Mindstorms robots I was returned to my youth and frankly, I don’t want to come back. I interact with kids interacting with LEGO for 10 hours a week and it is exhausting, difficult and absolutely the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life. It has converted my wife (she asked for LEGO Christmas decorations last year) and is the underpinning of my thesis on the affordances of constructionist technology in curricular engagement.

        So tell me again, other than being able to represent a world for smaller hands and powerful imaginations, what LEGO is doing wrong.

        • Hi Mr. K,
          I really did intend for this article to be a bit tongue in cheek. Really, I did. Sometimes, I find my sense of humor isn’t all that universally appreciated. Please know, I do like legos and what they inspire. The character driven component is a little challenging for me.

          By the way. Your advice on how to responsibilities legos activities is pretty cool.

          That said, lighten up a little, okay? I don’t think my article is going to single handedly threaten the Lego empire.

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