I am Unikitty, hear me roar! Insights from the Lego Movie

So, Aaron and I took the kids to see the Lego Movie the other day. It was a cute film, full of giggles, snickers, and inside jokes for anyone who has ever played with Legos. But my favorite moment had to be when Princess Unikitty, the precious pink regent of Cloud Cuckoo Land, snapped during the climactic battle scene and started going nuts on the bad guys, screaming “YOU SHOULD BE MORE FRIENDLY!!!”

unikitty

I think I’ve found my cinematic doppelgänger.

I’ll just come out and admit it: I can relate to Unikitty. One of the great ironies of my life is that while many people relate a passion for gender equality with contempt for traditional femininity (because apparently a fondness for doilies equals a high oppression threshold?), I have always been a girly girl; one of those kids who cried when my mom made me wear jeans instead of dresses, who wished on stars for a canopy bed and wanted mint green carousel horses stenciled along the top of her bedroom wall, and who dressed up in princess and mermaid costumes (created on her own sewing machine, no less) for Halloween well into her teens. Don’t judge. I have no problem admitting that pink is my favorite color, and no, I would NOT rather hang out with “the guys” than have a tea party with The Church Ladies. I like tea parties, and in my opinion, nothing goes quite as well with conversations about theology and gender politics as raspberry white chocolate scones. Deal with it.

KittyodeathLike Unikitty, I also happen to think that people should be nice to each other, and that the the scourge of “meanness” is best addressed by something resembling the Care Bear Stare, in which the Unfriendlies are overwhelmed and totally transformed by positivity and the power of love. It’s why some people used to call me “Pollyanna.” They were teasing, but I was okay with that, because let’s face it, it kinda fits. And also, she had awesome hair. Pollyanna braids were second only to Heidi braids in my little girl heart, and since Heidi braids are a pain to do, I wore Pollyanna braids All. The. Time. True story.

Anyway. There is something to be said for unbridled (snicker) optimism and passionate idealism. There’s no doubt that righteous anger can motivate people to action, but if we live there too long, it can poison us, turn us into hardened cynics more bent on destroying our “enemy” than bringing about shalom. We become bitter, and all our good works, everything that comes out of our mouths, begins to taste like ash.

Me? I want to advocate out of starry-eyed hope and gushy love. I want to nurture an aggressive, womb-deep compassion that remembers that every adversary is someone’s precious baby, that seeks out the imago dei goodness in every cranky Mrs. Snow and power-mongering Aunt Polly. Let me be really clear: I am not talking about denial, about closing our eyes and ears to evil and refusing to confront injustice. I’m talking about the ways the Holy Spirit empowers us to love when we are rooted in the steadfast confidence that God is good, that good will win, and not only will justice prevail, but mercy will triumph even over that.

“Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.” II Corinthians 3:12

Hardened warriors may look and sound impressive, but it’s not anger that will change the world, friends. It’s faith, hope, and love. So here’s to the Unikittys and Pollyannas of the world, to the unapologetic idealists who aren’t afraid to charge into the fray braying “You should be more friendly!” Kindness is not weakness, and hope, when placed in Christ, does not disappoint. People may scoff, but there’s a place for all you fiercely gentle beauties. This brutal, beautiful world needs you more than ever.

“Always try to be a little kinder than is necessary.” J.M. Barrie

6 Responses to I am Unikitty, hear me roar! Insights from the Lego Movie

  1. Kathy February 25, 2014 at 7:35 am #

    Late last year I had a “kind of break down” /hit the wall / something or other.. but during the healing process I read this from Ann Voskamp “Anger is the lid that suffocates joy until she lies limp and lifeless”. Knowing I had no joy I began to examine myself for anger and sure enough there is was in all it’s ‘gory’!
    It is hard to find the balance but like you say: “There’s no doubt that righteous anger can motivate people to action, but if we live there too long, it can poison us” I need to find a way to express righteous anger but not ‘live there too long’. For me at the moment one way is being careful what I read online and asking myself does this affect me and can I do anything about it? Thanks for being the voice of gentleness so often!

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong February 25, 2014 at 7:53 am #

      That’s so true. There’s nothing wrong with anger, and it is often very appropriate, but if our eyes are continually fixed on everything that’s wrong with the world we can begin to lose hope. I think that’s why the Apostle Paul encouraged people to think about good, pure things. I think one of the reasons there is so much anger and cynicism nowadays is that people are constantly bombarded with things that wound them. I have to be very careful about what I read, watch, and engage with as well.

  2. Diana Trautwein February 25, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    This is beautifully written, Jenny. And I’m with you 1000% — constant anger does nothing. Occasional righteous indignation is another thing entirely, but the snide, sarcastic, cynical tone which permeates far too many places in this world, and in the church, feels about 100% ineffective to me. (So how does a girly-girl wind up with four boys?? I asked the same about each of my daughters, though they had 3 each, not 4. :>) My son got the girls – our only two granddaughters.)

  3. Susanne March 2, 2014 at 7:52 am #

    great post……I love the reminder to be kinder than necessary

  4. Dani March 22, 2014 at 2:35 am #

    Jenny, this is why I love your blog! So often discussions about gender issues are filled with anger and can even creep into man-bashing territory, and I like that you avoid that. I love my husband (even though we differ on the terminology–I call our marriage egalitarian, and he calls himself a servant leader–so far it’s working okay), and I love my very traditional, soft-patriarchal family, and I don’t appreciate blogs that bash them. They still don’t know I’m egalitarian, but when I’m ready to tell them, I want to be able to communicate my beliefs in a loving way that they’ll be able to receive (rather than making them feel defensive). Your blog has given me some language and ideas to be able to do that.

    Also, sometimes I feel like I’m in no-man’s land, because I DO love things that are traditionally feminine. I like old fashioned things, cooking, and decorating. It doesn’t bother me a bit to have functions like tea parties, craft nights, and recipes swaps for the women’s group at church. (I understand that not all women enjoy those things, and I think it’s good to offer a variety of activities, so that everyone can be included.) I have to admit that lately I’ve been having an identity crisis, wondering which kind of woman I am (Passionate about gender equality? Or passionate about Pride and Prejudice marathons?) Thanks for the reminder that those things aren’t mutually exclusive, and I can just be myself without worrying which category I fit into.

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  1. Where is the Hope? In Which I am “Peddling Pop Pollyanna Ecclesiology,” and Refuse to Back Down | Jenny Rae Armstrong - March 29, 2014

    […] been called “Pollyanna” before, and even blogged about that a few weeks […]

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