How digital remix and fan culture helped the Lego comeback

Sophie Gwendolyn Einwächter, Felix M. Simon

Abstract


The LEGO Movie, the highest-grossing animation film of 2014, surprised and impressed children, adults, and critics worldwide. The film's transfranchisal approach and its clever merchandising helped the Lego Group become the world's biggest toymaker in the following year. In order to provide context for understanding the Lego comeback, we first address the corporate history of the Lego Group and how its product range has developed over the years. Next, we take a closer look at adult fans of Lego (AFOL), in particular a German fan club that considers Lego building to be a form of art. The final part of our paper deals with brickfilming as a cultural practice bringing together fans, the brand, Lego-building, and filmmaking. Taking The LEGO Movie and the overwhelmingly positive response to it as a starting point for cultural analysis helps to deepen our understanding of contemporary media production and resulting (trans)formations of fan phenomena. Furthermore, investigating Lego allows us to tackle some of the key rules and mechanisms underlying cultural participation and creativity today. Ultimately, the difficult past and current success of the Lego brick may attest to the often challenged yet sometimes reaffirmed status of tangible objects in a now predominantly digitally mediated era.

Keywords


Analog culture; Digital culture; Fandom; Film industry; German fan culture; Hollywood; Lego franchise; Media franchise; Toy industry

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2017.01047

License URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC), ISSN 1941-2258, is an online-only Gold Open Access publication of the nonprofit Organization for Transformative Works. TWC is a member of DOAJ. Contact the Editor with questions.